Claws is a comic book that relies upon the unexpected. Nobody in their right mind would have figured finding Wolverine and Black Cat in Killraven’s War of the Worlds future, but here they are set against the red and orange skies, courtesy of Dan Brown and Nick Filardi. In fact, let’s face facts. The odds of Killraven appearing in a comic book ever again were pretty damn slim, but here he is.
Kilraven’s not the only future resistance fighter present. Lovers M’Shulla and Carmilla raise hell against the Martian dominators as well. The fiends go all Mars Attacks on Mint Julep’s and Volcana Ash’s shapely asses. Lots of folk are going to identify the implied torture as manga tentacle assault or something, but this kind of barely veiled sexual threat menaced comely women bound and gagged on pulp science fiction covers before anybody ever heard the term hentai. That’s the theme for Palmiotti’s, Gray’s and Lisner’s Maritans. Claws is pure pulp, and that’s why anything can happen.
By the way, if you haven’t an inkling about who I’m talking about, don’t worry. Gray, Palmiotti and Lisner make exposition mostly unnecessary, and what there is of it slides down the throat with relative ease. So if you’ve never purchased a comic book for 25 cents, you’ll still comprehend the gist of Killraven and friends.
When the group travel through the sewers to rescue Mint Julep and Volcana, they find some astounding nightmares, and these things are like mutant nesting dolls. In a jaw-dropping moment, killing the beast doesn’t solve the problem. It makes the situation worse. In addition to the natural deadly flora and fauna, a staple of the old Killraven series, the group discover Martian-constructed traps such as a lovely acid bath, glowing sickly yellow, and electronic snakes. Honestly, you cannot guess what will happen next in this comic book.
Lisner, Palmiotti and Gray are in high spirits in this slaphappy foray. The dialogue is so snappy you can dance to it. It’s also quite revealing. When Wolverine makes a comment about M’Shulla, Carmilla immediately bears her claws. Black Cat’s reaction is priceless, and Wolverine acts nonplussed, but the whole scene indicates that this world is too busy to bother with prejudicial social mores. Best of all, the point isn’t preached, it’s quipped.
Palmiotti, Gray and Lisner utilize the Black Cat and Wolverine in unique ways. They latch onto Wolverine’s healing factor and integrate the power with his personality. Painkiller Jane also has a healing factor, but she wouldn’t have done what Wolverine does. That’s pure Logan.
Black Cat’s at once vulnerable to unbelievable situations that never the less have their roots in actual nature. These moments beat out some excellently timed comedy from Lisner, but she’s also plucky enough to follow the leader without too much complaint.
Gray, Palmiotti and Lisner furthermore show the commonality in Black Cat and Wolverine through their expression when learning about the future, and this gag subtly suggests why they make such a good couple. Although, I’m sure some Felicia/Peter Shippers will object. The creative team nevertheless give Wolverine and Black Cat chemistry, which makes Claws more than just another Wolverine book.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.