Writer: Damon Lindelof
Artists: Leinil Francis Yu, Dave McCaig (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I'll admit that I wasn't expecting too much in the way of quality from this comic; I really have no patience for the absurdly overrated Lost, and I don't share Marvel's apparent conviction that a writer from a different medium automatically comes with the skills necessary to produce a good comic story. And the idea of stretching Incredible Hulk #181 to six issues didn't strike me as the cleverest idea when Marvel are being criticised daily for content-deficient comics.
But this is a pretty effective start. The opening pages kick things off very well, with an immediately compelling sequence in which we see that Wolverine's in a wretched state, and how he ended up like that, before entering into an extended flashback that effectively brings us almost up to date on how the whole mess began. There's also some good character work here; as a fan of She-Hulk, I'm particularly interested in seeing how Lindelof further develops Jennifer Walters after her suggestive introduction here. Sadly, Wolverine is a bit of a duff note in this issue, as Lindelof seems to have confused him with his 616 incarnation; we'll see how he characterises the Hulk and Banner, and whether his portrayal of Wolverine improves, but getting one of your leads wrong in the first issue isn't the best of signs.
Another area where the omens predict potential failure, or at least something of an embarrassing mess, is in the pacing; although this is a fairly good introductory issue, there are hints of Baleful Decompression already. Most notably, even though to do so would make for a neat bit of story structure for this first issue, the flashback doesn't actually catch up with the opening scenes, leaving more preamble for the next issue. Not only is this a disappointment that makes those exciting opening pages look more like a tease than a teaser, it also suggests that Lindelof isn't exactly bursting at the seams with fun and interesting ideas to fill six whole issues. It's too early to tell for sure, of course, but I'm somehow not confident.
I'm not amazingly familiar with Leinil Yu's artwork; the last time I encountered his work was on the New X-Men Annual from 2001 (back before Marvel retired annuals... oh wait...), and I didn't really warm to the style back then. But Yu is a good choice for this project, as the rough-edged savagery of his style is quite appropriate for these characters and the wild setting (it's a shame that Marvel no longer have the Conan licence, as Yu would be a great match for something in that genre). I look forward to seeing how the actual Wolverine/Hulk fight looks, as that double-page spread of Wolverine getting literally torn apart promises good, and gruesome, things on that front. And if we're going to see Ultimate Wendidgo, as it seems we might, Yu should do a great job with that character too.
This is a good looking comic, and a pretty strong writing debut from Lindelof; I'm keen to see more, but this first issue hasn't done anything to divest me of my concerns regarding the series' content and substance. I hope to be proved wrong.
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