Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A major point in Marvel's summer event has been largely overlooked by those supporting superhuman registration: the New Warriors didn't kill over 600 people in the opening pages of Civil War #1. The supervillain with the power to explode did. Only Wolverine seems to understand that it was the bad guys, not the good guys, who were responsible for the death and destruction in Stamford, Connecticut.
That's the main premise behind Marc Guggenheim's first story arc on Wolverine, and to this point the writer has crafted a meaningful tie-in to the smash hit Civil War, just as J. Michael Straczynski has done on Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man.
Nitro has gone on the run. The last man he wants following him is the mutant whose ability to dismantle a Sentinel is likely only outweighed by his ability to sniff out illegal contraband at an airport. Wolverine's search leads not only to the inevitable conflict with Nitro, but also to an encounter with Iron Man. Both characters' ideologies are handled with care by Guggenheim, who also provides some snappy dialogue in those scenes. Logan's inner monologues are perfectly in character as they serve to drive the story forward rather than bog it down.
Two problems with the plot stand out like Roger Ebert having two sore thumbs. First: Wolverine's healing factor attains ridiculous, god-like levels. My eyes rolled all the way out of their sockets after I witnessed Logan return to normal minutes after being reduced to nothing more than the kind of skeletal system model I would expect to see in my high school anatomy class. Second: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s recklessness in approaching Nitro is baffling. The man killed six-hundred people after the New Warriors took him by surprise; why would Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. expect the same strategy to work this time around?
Humberto Ramos polarizes readers about as much as any high profile artist does these days. Take one look at his work and you'll know why. Personally, I've warmed to it more and more of late. His rendition of Aunt May in Spectacular Spider-Man gave me nightmares for weeks, but his moody, angular work with Paul Jenkins on Revelations made me a fan. With Wolverine, he lends much of that same expressive tone to every page. Although Logan is often excessively stocky, the story flows at a brisk and exciting pace thanks to the artwork. Edgar Delgado's colors are also worthy of praise, as he captures multiple settings and backgrounds very well, from the crimson hue in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s strike team to the fiery blaze that burns Logan from head to toe.
Most intriguing of all is the fact that Guggenheim's arc has revealed the possibility of a link between a high-profile player in Washington with the events in Stamford. The development of a conspiracy within the government isn't surprising by any means, but it could potentially add an entirely new layer to the conflict. Guggenheim could be laying the seeds for a major Civil War turning point in the coming months.
Two issues in, Guggenheim and Ramos have convinced me that they "get" the character of Wolverine. The script and art mesh well, and the storyline sheds some light on a darker, forgotten side of the conflict. A few factors keep the book from being truly great, but Wolverine #43 is nonetheless an enjoyable read and worth checking out.
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