Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artists: Joe Linsner, Jason Keith (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
To say that this final issue of Claws is better than the two issues which preceded it is to damn the book with faint praise, but even this slight improvement can't save the story at such a late stage. As Wolverine and the Black Cat escape the deathtraps of Arcade's fantasy island, we see them hitch a ride on a fleeing chopper, and quickly capture the bad guy and his moll in order to bring them to justice in their own unique way. En route to their destination, and with the baddies in tow, the two heroes relate the final part of the story of how they escaped the villain's island deathtrap for any readers still interested enough to care.
The flashback structure of the issue makes things slightly more interesting than the previous instalments, but it's only a minor diversion and one which doesn't really add anything to the story. The rapport between Logan and Felicia may feel slightly less forced this time around, with a better class of banter and some hints at a development of their relationship beyond mutual irritation, but it's impossible to escape the fact that there's really no good reason for these two characters to appear together in a comic. What's more, the thin story doesn't exactly inspire confidence when you see more and more irrelevant obstacles thrown in the pair's path in order to stretch the plot out to fill just three scant issues. It's not even as though what little plot there is is that consistent or well-written, and just because a story takes pains to poke fun at its own flaws in logic (in this case, why Wolverine didn't psychically contact Emma Frost when they were stranded in the first place), it doesn't mean that it can get away with it.
I can see what the creators are trying to do with this book, and that's to inject a sense of fun, imagination and sheer abandon into a medium which frequently risks taking itself far too seriously these days. But what might have worked as a simplistic, throwaway team-up twenty years ago feels painfully shallow and inconsequential today: compare these three issues to any one of Mark Millar's arcs of equal length from his run on Ultimate Fantastic Four, where the writer's stories combined an old-school, classic and fun feel with an excess of imaginative ideas and some great characterisation, and you can see how unsophisticated Claws seems to readers of modern comic books.
I don't mean to sound completely down on this style of comic; in fact, I could see it being a fun purchase for young readers (although I do wonder how they'd handle the sexual subtext), and Joe Linsner's artwork earns the book some credit for its strong, consistent and unashamedly cartoony style, but there's really very little else in this issue to make me recommend it to anyone beyond the die-hard Wolverine or Black Cat fans who will have already decided to buy it regardless. Sadly, that might just be enough people to make this comic a success.
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