“Enemy of the State: Part 2 (of 6)”
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i)
Wolverine has been kidnapped by the hand, brainwashed, and sent out to kill a variety of Marvel heroes. This issue, he squares off with Elektra and the crew of a S.H.I.E.L.D. battleship in an action sequence which boasts a high body count and some crazy concepts but unfortunately fails to cement any relationship between the readers and the characters on the page. Whilst this might be all well and good for those who seek visual thrills – Logan v Jaws is a particular highlight, and something that must have bee as much fun to write as it was to draw – anyone looking for any depth will likely be disappointed. Even the ever-reliable John Romita Jr. takes a slight dip in quality this issue, with his character posing coming off as a little more stiff and less fluid than usual. Where he really succeeds is in the quieter scenes – the arrival of Air Force One and the appearance (or not) of the invisible girl – with that subtlety being a welcome respite from the relentless snikt-ing that greets every appearance of the title character in this issue.
Mark Millar seems to be treating every Marvel property he gets his hands on as a new toy – an approach which is evident in the muddled pages of his Marvel Knights’ Spider-Man and which threatens to become a problem here too. The problem is not with his ideas, or even their execution, but the way in which he seems intent to cram as many of his fantasies for the character into a storyline, instead of basing an arc on a few good ideas and letting them play out at a more manageable pace. There’s a sense that – as with Spider-Man – he wants to get one idea out of the way and quickly move onto the next one, only working out how to piece it all together as an afterthought. It might be too early to discount this title yet as there’s ample opportunity for him to slow things down in the next few issues, but it seems as though that’s the direction this is going.
Whereas the all-out action approach was lots of fun for the first issue (countering the usual expectations of opening episodes of drawn-out six-issue arcs) it seems that transforming Wolverine into a simplified brainwashed killing machine risks losing a lot of the character elements that have made him a more readable character in the last couple of years. With no let-up in the pace, the continuing action ironically becomes a bit of a drag: if everything is urgent, nothing is urgent. It may be fun whilst it lasts, but with a lack of any real plot forthcoming - bar the appealing conceit that The Hand’s plans include the murder and revival of all major superheroes as servants to their cause - it might be difficult to sustain this story for a full six issues. That said, the cliffhanger promises a Fantastic fight next issue which should be worth tuning in for.
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