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Wolverine: Saudade

Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008
By: Matthew J. Brady

Jean-David Morvan
Phillipe Bouchet
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Wolverine: Saudade arrives in stores tomorrow, September 10.

It's not like Wolverine is a character that doesn't get enough exposure, since he appears in at least five or six books each month, along with countless guest appearances and one-shots. So do we really need another one? This one is actually kind of different though, since it's by European creators Jean-David Morvan and Phillipe Bouchet, and they bring a different sensibility to the story than most American creators. But is that enough to make yet another Wolverine comic even notable, much less worth reading?

The story doesn't really go in any new directions; it's a fairly simple tale of Logan taking a vacation in Brazil, only to get caught up in a search for a young mutant, trying to save him and his fellow poor orphans from a terrible fate. As can be expected, violence, adventure, and lots of fighting ensue. But while that's nothing special (although Morvan does bring some interesting idiosyncracies to the tale), the execution is quite good, with some surprising violence and a few interesting character moments. Wolverine gets a nice turn here, coming off as a friendly guy who is ready to help out those in need, rather than the brooding, antisocial loner that we usually see. He even dances with a pretty dreadlocked girl on the beach; that's not something you see very often.

But the real show here is Bouchet's exquisite artwork. He fills pages with some amazing, meticulous details, and uses some really cool techniques, like the young mutant's reality-distortion powers, which are represented by extreme distortion of perspective. The character work is pretty nice as well (although Wolverine looks odd, with a sloping brow and kind of slicked-back hair), reminiscent of Eduardo Risso's style. The settings and landscapes are also pretty beautiful; one page is especially striking, showing Logan bedding down in a makeshift shack with his newfound young friends; subsequent panels pull back, showing that this is only one shack among thousands and emphasizing the poverty of the people.

Another surprising element is the violence. Or rather, the visceral goriness of said violence, since Wolverine comics always contain their fair share of stabbings. But while the bloodletting is usually fairly discreet in American stories, Bouchet puts some nasty stuff right there on panel, with Wolverine committing some pretty nasty acts on people, and having them happen to him as well. One memorable scene sees him riddled with bullets from machine guns and dragged behind a car; the resulting damage is quite visible, with chunks of flesh torn away all over his body in a stomach-churning display of nastiness. It's rare that this sort of thing seems felt by the characters, but Morvan and Bouchet dwell on the pain and physical harm caused by the violence that we often treat as commonplace. It's a different perspective that is pretty eye-opening.

So overall, it's not the greatest thing ever, with a plot that is fairly rote, but the beautiful artwork and unconventional style push this book over the top, making it one of the better Wolverine tales in recent memory. If you're interested to see what results when creators who aren't usually associated with mainstream superhero material do when given the keys to Marvel's top moneymaker, be sure to check this out.






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