Wolverine is a Marvel character that appears in more books than the Duggars have children. As all children are special and unique, like snowflakes, so it is that each of Wolverine’s titles are all a bit different from one another. In the Wolverine family, Wolverine: The Best There Is, written by Charlie Huston, with art by Juan Jose Ryp is the pretty one that’s also a little slow, but really likes to hear itself talk and thinks it’s more mature than it actually is.

Note the “Parental Advisory! Not For Kids!” label slapped on the cover. Marvel already has an existing MAX line in which content with explicit themes can be published. So, if Wolverine: The Best There Is is “not for kids”, why not publish this title under the MAX imprint? Could it be that Marvel/Disney doesn’t want to take one of its most popular characters and place it in a book that is actively off limits to kids and teens? Because, if that is the case, the overall muted storytelling, with its emphasis on violent, graphic imagery, stilted exposition and bleeped out swear words reads like a network television broadcast edit on an “R” rated movie – and a mediocre one at that.

Spoilers, megalomania and wasted potential after the jump.

Let me start by saying that I really, really wanted to like this book. Wolverine is one of my favorite Marvel characters and I’ve enjoyed Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork on the various books he’s penciled, many of which he did through Avatar – which is a company that pretty much lets the creators do what they want as far as gratuitous violence, sex, language and any other “mature” themes are concerned. So, part of my disappointment with this book is that it really could have been so much more. Ryp’s artwork in this book is what we’ve come to expect from his projects – vivid pencil work, lurid images and an exceedingly polished attention to fine detail that pushes the already graphic panels into the arena of the grotesque. These are good things. The problem is with the story that accompanies the art:

 

Well, Spanky, I guess it's good to have a hobby. Me? I like fly fishing.

 

Huston writes almost the entire story from the point of view of megalomaniac bad guy, Winsor, as the stereotypical villain’s Evil Speech Of Evil. “Ok, Wolverine! Now that I’ve got you trapped, here’s ‘My Backstory’. Then let’s move on to ‘How I Beat You’. Finally, here are my awesomely horrible ‘Plans For The Future’! Mwah, hah, hah!”. About the only thing that’s missing is a twirled moustache. The first 17 pages of the book are solid exposition that assume that even if you’ve read issues #1-10, you still need everything spelled out for you. 17 pages. That’s just lazy writing. And, if you’re familiar with how the Evil Speech Of Evil usually goes, the bad guy spends enough time gloating that the good guys are able to get it together and overcome him – which is pretty much where the story goes in the final 5 pages.

Meh.

This book should not be named Wolverine: The Best There Is, if only because it is not the best. To call it that is like naming your chihuahua Thor and believing that by doing so it will somehow grow up to become a pit bull. If you’re a fan of Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork, you might want to pick this book up for the art. However, there are plenty of books he’s worked on that have the same quality of art with actual, readable stories, like Black Summer, No Hero and Punisher Max: Happy Ending. You may want to seek those out instead.

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