Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: John Buscema, Al Williamson, and Tom Orzechowski
Release Date: February 26, 2020
By 1988 Wolverine was a fully established character. It took fourteen long years for him to finally get his own ongoing series. Let’s see if it was worth the wait!
In full transparency I’m not a Wolverine or X-men expert. Not even close. After 30 plus years away from comics trying to get a grasp on the X-men a daunting task. It was very intimidating. I tried to jump on board with the current run of X books but failed miserably. More times than not I had absolutely no idea of the history, characters powers, strengths, weaknesses etc… I actually felt stupid for not understanding a few books. Excalibur and New Mutants mostly. A roster page of 9 crude pictures doesn’t help me “know” the characters. So I went all the way back to the start of the Claremont era and figured I’d read EVERYTHING and learn the characters this way. I’m currently on UXM 109 from 1978. So with a bit of trepidation I jumped over 10 years forward to Wolverine #1!
It’s hard to believe that Wolverine had been around for some 14 years or so before getting his own ongoing. From my experience with fans, people either love or hate Wolverine. Much of that is due to the over saturation of the character. According to Marvel Unlimited which is six months behind current releases, Wolverine has been in 1824 comics since 1974. That’s close to an average of appearing in 40 comics a year for 46 years, or over 3 comics a month every year since 1974. Think about that. That’s a lot of Wolverine!!!
Anyway, after reading this issue I’ve realized that I’m actually not stupid. This issue really should be REQUIRED reading for all Marvel writers. A masterpiece of how to start an ongoing with an already established character all while being totally new reader friendly. I’m can’t emphasis this point enough.
With that being said, there are several major flaws in this issue. My first issue is with the comics code authority. To even have that stamp on the cover is a joke. To have the word “mafia” go against the comics code, but have this issue filled with fat shaming, mass murder, be-headings, and strongly implied rape is a farce. A sham. Those people should be embarrassed for themselves. I realize 1988 was a long time ago, but that’s no excuse. Claremont could easily have told a great story without any of these elements. I really believe that.
Now to the good points! Claremont was still heavily involved in the X books at this time. UXM, X-Men Classic, Marvel Comics presents, Excalibur and now the Wolverine ongoing. The number of books he put out a month is hard to fathom. And while all these books were happening you can easily jump into Wolverine #1 with absolutely zero knowledge of any of these other books. Claremont introduces Wolverine, his powers and abilities, his strengths and weakness, all while also explaining to a certain extent why Logan is by himself, and not with the X-men.
I’m drawn to characters that are greatly flawed. Moon Knight, Silver Surfer, and Wolverine etc… Wolverine by nature is hyper-violent. Claremont shows that while with the X-men Wolverine keeps things under control for the most part, but in this solo issue debut really does a 180 and the violence takes center stage. Is it his true nature showing through, or lack of a team to keep him in check, or some of both? Claremont/Buscema take things to the extreme with a body count over 100. Literally. That’s a bit much for me, but the point is made. Logan is a decent person at heart, tries to do the right things for the right reason, but is prone to killing. A lot.
The story in this issue is a mute point honestly. It’s pure set up and character development. And that totally works. Claremont is a master of the long game and wasn’t in a hurry.
The art is subjective obviously. It’s a bit dated, but works for me. Buscema is a legend, and rightfully so.
As an aside, I believe Chris Claremont is under contract by Marvel and is basically being paid to do next to nothing. Egos should be put aside and give the guy an ongoing X book. God knows there’s no shortage of them and even more coming!
If you can get past the mass murder and implied rape you’ll find an otherwise outstanding issue that makes me feel like I know the character and am invested in Logan. It leaves me wanting to read a lot more Wolverine solo books!