Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Darick Robertson
A stand-alone issue, this dream sequence explores whether Logan can really find happiness with his new partner Cassie Lathrop, or whether he is condemned to be forever haunted by his inner demons...
A trip through Logan's mind may not sound like the most pleasant way to spend an issue but in constructing the story around this premise, Rucka gives us a more telling insight into what makes this character tic than has been managed in a long time. Its abstract nature and adult metaphors make this one of the most mature episodes of Wolverine since the series re-booted: however, it is also the most intellectually satisfying, exploring as it does the twisted and difficult beast that is Logan without resorting to the cheap, cliched and two-dimensional characterisation which writers so often fall back on to describe this complex character.
Robertson's artwork conveys a mesmerisingly floaty, ethereal quality which perfectly suits the dreamscape that is being presented and as such (in addition to the non-sequitous narrative) is reminiscent of Wolverine's recent X-isle miniseries. However, this issue proves more effective thanks not only to the more subtle art (complemented perfectly by its colouring and effects) but also to its conciseness and focus on Wolvie without any other intrusive plot elements to speak of. Artistic licence is given by such an unrestrictive concept, freeing the writers and artists from the constraints of continuity and as such allowing far more imaginative than usual representations of the characters to be presented.
In action terms, there is little to be found beyond the abstract but nonetheless dynamic sequences which pit Wolverine against his own personal demons. The artwork does much to juxtapose the different facets to Wolverine's nature: the beast, the fighter, the drinker, the savage, as well as his more tender loving side. These are bolstered by intriguing metaphors: an equation of sex with death prevails throughout the issue, and a run-through of the leading lights of Logan's love-life are presented alongside disturbingly violent scenes, all of which does much to convince us that no matter how contented Logan may find himself at this point in time, he will always be held back by his own deap-seated psychological hangups.
Perhaps the most satisfying element of this issue is that the reader is invited to interpret the visual metaphors and cryptic messages for himself: no pat explanation is given, or necessarily intended. Physical incarnations are given to elements of the central character's persona and it is up to us to decide what it all means. However, far from rendering the comic inaccessible or being too contrived for his own good, Rucka accomplishes the feat of making us empathise and sympathise with the brutish Wolverine - and in doing so lays strong foundations for future work on this title.
It is easy to dismiss Wolverine as the archetypal simple, repetitive, popular character - and as a consequence of this, many writers have used him as such. Rucka shows here that an intelligent Wolverine comic is not only capable of being written, but also of being one of the more entertaining and thought-provoking character pieces to have been applied to such a fiercely-protected and mass-marketed character.
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