“Coyote Crossing: Part 4”
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Leandro Fernandez
After fighting his way through his men last issue, Wolverine was surprised to learn that Rojas is in fact a heavily pregnant woman. Logan faces a moral dilemma when it comes to punishing her for the deaths of illegal immigrants in her drug smuggling operations. Meanwhile, Cassie Lathrop is still on his trail....
Whilst the current immigrant/drug smuggling plot of "Coyote Crossing" isn't exactly the most memorable in this character's history, the subplot involving the BATF agent Cassie Lathrop and her relationship to Wolverine certainly adds enough to keep this interesting. It's always fun to see Logan's interaction with the fairer sex, and the addition of another strong female character in the form of Rojas gives Rucka a lot to play with from this angle. Rojas presents Logan with an interesting moral choice: punish her and kill her unborn baby? Or let the baby live but spare her. Thankfully, the climax of this issue is ambiguous enough that we can believe that Wolverine has found a happy medium.
Rucka shows a good grasp of Wolverine's character here: grudgingly belligerent when he needs to be, with a tendancy to let his temper get the better of him - yet displaying something of a soft side (no matter how deep down it may be buried), and one which leads us to believe that Lathrop could well develop into a long-standing character. Her obsession with Logan against her better judgement is well-explored in her exchange with Nestor at the start of the issue, a dialogue which goes a long way to explain why a woman like her may find the prospect of such a dangerous man so alluring. When one considers the tenderness on display in the issue's closing pages, there is a real sense that Wolverine is being portrayed as much more than the angry ball of rage he has so often been rendered as in the past, adding an important dimensionality to the character and the title as a whole.
Fernandez's artwork, whilst simply drawn, does much to capture the essence of Logan's character, aided in maintaining a dark and brooding atmosphere by Studio F's colours. If the renderings come off as a little cartoony at times, it is because the story lends itself to being told in simple, effective images. The relatively static nature of the issue's opening pages makes Wolverine's beserker rage even more effective when it comes, with the effective use of red bordering in this sequence again showing the important role played by colour in this title. Even if there is nothing on display as thrilling as last issue's battle with Rojas' men, the artwork serves its storytelling purposes well.
Ultimately, this is an above-average Wolverine tale which has fun playing against stereotype, presenting a workable plot bolstered by strong characters and well-suited, effecient art. It's nice to see Logan in these lone-traveller-helps-communities plotlines as they reinforce the more grounded nature of his character, giving him more relevance than his constriction in the X-men allows.
A solid issue that presents a thoughtful perspective on the morality of the standard drug-baron storyline, with a climax which suggests strong future potential for Rucka's strong female BATF agent. Fans of Wolverine who prefer the grounded Jacket-and-Jeans Wolvie to his X-men incarnation with find much to enjoy here.
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