Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Comic Review: Wolverine #5

Whatever you're beliefs, whatever religion you belong too - the concept of Hell is probably one of the most enduring and feared concepts still emblazoned in the psyches of westerners. For me, my religion does not regard Hell as a possibility, because we already chose to follow God to Earth instead of following the Devil. Our actions learned on Earth will determine the level of glory we'll be able to attain in Heaven - so the exclusion of Hell does not mean a free ride. So, if I believe Hell isn't a possibility - why am I so afraid of the depiction of Hell in this story. The Devil and Hell exist in my religion, so it is something for me to fear -- but since it's not an option after death, why does this story still scare me so much; especially when you consider how cliched and typical this depiction of hell is portrayed as? Usually I'd consider such a cliched "demons torture you for eternity" to not actually have enough "Bite" to actually be scary. Not saying the idea of demons torturing you for eternity is a pleasant idea, by any means, but it's so cartoonishly cliched that such a concept usually looses it's power. So again I ask - why is this book scary?

One word: "Detail." Wolverine's trip down into Hell is a gruesome, if cliched version of Hell - with a demonic and monstrous Devil, constant torture and torment, and all of you're sins being laid bare. It's seriously not original. But the pure and raw detail Jason Arron brings to this story is what sells it. The first page of this issue details the typical torments Logan has had to endure while trapped in the underworld. It's so obscenely nuanced - with unoriginal yet utterly colorful descriptions that continually add to this etherial mental picture of hell and all it can unleash upon you're soul. It's damn depressing, when you get down to it. This entire five issue arch "Wolverine Goes to Hell" has been utterly depressing. BUT - within that depressing and scary atmosphere a good story is being weaved. With vicious and unrelenting detail - the story's setting, while not X-Rated by any means, is mentally tiring; but it's quality writing worthy of that tiredness. The story is further elevated by Renato Guedes detailed artwork. His art wonderfully expands on the sorry and woeful predicament Logan is in.

I actually haven't had much experience with Jason Arron as a writer. I've heard many good things about him, and about his ability to create a living and breathing world that seems truly alive. I didn't read his Weapon X series, so I was somewhat fearful of walking into a storyline I didn't know anything about. The series, starting with a new #1, didn't exactly have an easy entry either - as Wolverine was simply and suddenly trapped in hell, without much explaination as to how he got there. I thought the recent Vampires vs X-men storyline had something to do with it. Not so -- and this issue finally gives us the explanation of how this happened to Wolverine in a back-up story "How It Started", which has a decent and surprising revelation. As to "why" this has happened to Wolverine - the next story arch will no doubt be dealing with that. For now, people out for revenge against Wolverine is an easy enough explanation to grasp.

Like I said before, I hadn't read the previous Weapon X series, and thus only had other people's word on how good Jason Arron was as a writer. Did he live up to the hype? Yes - he definately did. The first issue, in particular, featured Wolverine's old friend John Wraith. He probably hasn't appeared in any X-Men issues for years. But his brief return to Wolverine's world was both touching and true. Even though Arron killed him, and has subseqently been murdering a long list of Wolverine's friends and assossiates - it's never felt like a sales ploy, or a tactic to surprise the reader. It's all felt wonderfully organic to the main storyline. Everything about this series has just been spot on - especially in regards to the characterization of Wolverine himself. Wolverine has a very unique voice, and while it's easy enough for many writers to send him on an adventure - getting into his head, well, he's been depicted by so many other creators that fans will always know whenever he's being written wrong. Arron not only writes Wolverine in spot-on fashion, but I think he's become the new offical voice of the character. No one has gotten Wolverine's personality this accurate. This issue in particular shines as an example of that, as Wolverine is met by his biological father. He tells Wolverine how proud he is, because of what a superb killer he's become. Wolverine's reaction to this is just perfect; he gives up claim to the throne of hell, ruining his father's plans - essentially doing the right thing. Wolverine has never wanted to be a killer - and he's always strived to do the right thing, even though the right thing, for him, has been killing. So it was very in character for Wolverine to not only give up throne to hell, but also push away his father who had the worst idea of praise for a son possible. Wolverine later reflects that he is indeed his father's son, a born killer - but it's obvious that Wolverine doesn't aspire to that. That's why, even though Wolverine does indeed believe he deserves to be in hell - he ultimately doesn't deserve it.

The other half of this story involves Mystique, two Ghost Riders, the Son of Satan, and Wolverine's girl friend Melita working to reverse the curse on Wolverine's body, and put his soul back where it belongs. Their mission is successful, but not in the way they where expecting. There's still more to this storyline, which is going to be followed up in Wolverine vs the X-Men. Wolverine has escaped Hell, but his suffering isn't over yet. With Wolverine issues being this well written, the depressing and scary atmosphere of hell has been worth it.


  1. Yep. I didn't know wether anyone would be able to tell by what I wrote or not. I just didn't want to plaster "LDS Member Enjoys Romp Through Hell"