by Jason Aaron (writer), Yanick Paquette (pencils), Michel Lacombe (inks), Nathan Fairbairn (colors), and Cory Petit (letters)
The Story: Wolverine finds himself a patient in a very strange mental asylum, unsure of who or where he is.
What’s Good: This is an amazing book and is not only the best issue of Aaron’s new series thus far, but it’s also one of the best Wolverine books I’ve read in quite a while. Were it not for Old Man Logan, it’d be the best of the year.
Like with Old Man Logan, why this issue succeeds is that it gives us a Logan who isn’t at all like the Logan we’ve grown accustomed to. As a result, we get a story unlike the usual Wolverine fare in tone and even genre. Make no mistake, this is a straight up horror comic that borders on IDW territory. It’s unique, different, and very creative.
Having forgotten who he is and without any healing, claws, or “bubs,” Logan sounds naïve, lost, and oddly well-spoken. Seeing him in such a state of innocence is in itself unsettling. The fact that Aaron makes Logan a mental patient also provides a bit of wry fun. It leads to a pointed joke over how ridiculous and convoluted Logan’s history really is; any man who believes himself to have had such a life is surely crazy.
But where this book most succeeds as a horror comic is its use of mystery and obfuscation. Take new villain Dr. Rot, for example. We never actually see his face. His masks get smaller as the issue goes on, but this facelessness is unsettling, giving him that air of dominance. His masquerade costume is bound to make you uncomfortable. Of a similar nature is the counter, where a strange, bandaged hand delivers “medicine” that blends horror with the surreal. Then there’s the fact that Logan, and the comic, are restricted to a very small area, with the other corners of the building cloaked in darkness. Aaron gives the sense that we and Logan truly have no idea what’s going on, but that whatever it is, it’s all truly horrible. Dreadful, grisly evil lurks just out of sight in every direction.
Paquette’s art is both brightly lit and clinical and full of the nasty, dirty browns and beiges of a sanitarium. As such, this fashions an atmosphere of disgust and insanity. His depictions of the other mental patients are horrifying, while her neutered Logan is a sad sight indeed.
What’s Not So Good: If you’re walking into this expecting your average Wolverine comic, especially given Aaron’s previous arc, forget it. While it makes sense given what Aaron is doing, I can see some readers being particularly upset with a Logan who doesn’t at all sound like Logan. The gruff, burly rhetoric is completely gone. Aaron has shown himself very, very capable of writing in this voice, so it’s clear that Logan’s change of vernacular is intentional, but it may off-put some veteran Wolverine readers. Then again, this entire comic is likely to do that, what with there being no action and no claws.
Conclusion: Aaron does the impossible: he has written a Wolverine comic that has me gasping at its creativity. A truly unsettling horror comic with Logan as you’ve never seen him before.