Editor's Note: Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #2 arrives in stores Thursday, December 4.
"Part Two: Black Dragon Death Squad to the Edge of Panic"
Jason Aaron is using this mini-series to put together a tribute to Hong Kong Kung Fu Action Films in much the same way his work on Ghost Rider has been inspired by Grindhouse Movies. So if you like that sort of thing, this should be right up your alley. I love those sorts of things, so, well, yeah, you know the drill.
Aaron has yet to write anything that I've read and been disappointed with. Sure, the latest couple of issues of Ghost Rider are a dip in quality, but they're still good books. I cannot stress enough to you, dear reader, how much you should be reading anything with Aaron's name on it. At the very least, you're going to get a comic with loads of action, roadhouse humor, and a large set of brass balls.
Those are figurative balls. You don't get real brass balls.
This issue moves rather quickly into what would normally be the third act of a story of this kind, with our hero getting his ass kicked so hard that the odds of survival, much less returning to fight and actually win another day, are seemingly ridiculous. We also get a flashback to the first meeting between Logan and his old girlfriend, Lin, who is now old and goes by the name Black Dragon.
Yeah, that's her Death Squad in the title up there.
She is now the Queen of the Triads, the Empress of the Chinatown Underworld. And she's got a grudge against Wolverine. Go figure.
Most of the issue is Wolverine being gloriously beaten by the Death Squad. There are four of them: Rock of the Buddha, who hits like Ben Grimm if Ben knew Kung Fu; Fist of Fire, who can burn you with his touch; Storm Sword, who's sword can cause storms, as if you couldn't guess; and my favorite, Soulstriker. He can punch you in your soul.
Oh yeah, I said it. He can punch you IN YOUR SOUL.
That's the sort of awesomeness you get from a Jason Aaron comic, children.
We are also introduced to the mysterious Master Po. There'll be more on him with the next issue.
Artistically, Stephen Segovia is very reminiscent of Leinil Yu at times. Almost to the point of distraction. However his layouts are much better, and the way he uses the panels on the page to carry the action and provide dramatic emphasis make me like his work much more than Yu's. I also enjoyed his work on DC's Countdown to Mystery, even if I didn't actually read the Eclipso story he illustrated. I was buying that for Gerber.
There's a lot of energy on the page that works well to emphasize the violent damage that Wolverine is taking, but at the same time, I wish there was more of a sense of setting. There's not much in the way of backgrounds or establishing shots, and the final page reveal just doesn't create the dramatic effect you can tell he was going for.
Ultimately, the book ends up being good, but it could have been great. This is the sort of story that is made for magnificent issue-length fights and gloriously over-the-top melodrama, all done up in an amazing visual style. We get some of this, but not enough. I'd be happier if there had been an extra issue stuck in here to really build up the epic presentation that the story calls for.
As it is, it's good. But it could have been great. And it can probably still get to the point where it's a very good story. We'll have to wait and see, of course, but all the ingredients are there.
What did you think of this book?
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