by Jason Aaron (writer), Renato Guedes (pencils), Jose Wilson Magalhaes (inks), Matthew Wilson (colors), and Cory Petit (letters)

The Story: Logan fights for his life against Shadow Stalker and just who is that sad looking, veiled old lady, anyway?

What’s Good: Much as was the case last month, I’m really digging the flashback scenes.  The writing is really intimate, emphasizing the trauma the Logan leaves in his wake and Aaron manages to paint as both a childhood boogeyman and the conflicted killer that he is, all in one fell swoop.  Aaron also does a good job of making the most of the perspective of the old lady’s memory; there’s a sense of grief throughout to go with the wrongness.  It’s solid work insofar as in just a few pages, I feel like I’ve really gotten to know a character that we only just met.  We understand her motivations, her personality, and her history in a narrative that felt both sincere and visceral.  It’s hard not to empathize with her, as through no real fault of her own, her loved ones all end up being enemies or targets of Logan’s and the consequent heartbreak feels real and developed.

In the present-day, the action scenes are fun as Aaron yet again cooks up another twisted concept of a bad guy for Logan to get his ass kicked by.  Shadow Stalker is all grindhouse chic, which is something that is definitely a strong point of Aaron’s.  Her banter is also about a demented as you’d expect, what with her appearance and all, which provides a more personal battle that’s a nice shift from the Cannonfoot fight last month.

Overall, I enjoyed the artwork as well.  While I sort of have a more ambivalent relationship with Guedes’ work, I enjoyed Matthew Wilson’s colors a great deal during the flashbacks, as once again he manages to give the scenes a nice, old-timey, American feel.  Also, I do really like Guedes’ character design for Shadow Stalker.

What’s Not So Good: I’m not entirely sure how much of this is a negative, but Logan really is playing second fiddle here to the little old lady in the Red Right Hand.  There’s very little character work done on him and, in fact, I think the old lady’s flashback gets more pages than he does as well.  It feels odd having Wolverine reduced to such a one-note character in an arc like this, where much like last month, he merely gets his ass kicked for a while before finding a way to win, while all the real quality characterization and strong, personal writing is devoted to a new, still unnamed character.

That said, thematically, this may very well be Aaron’s point.  It is strangely appropriate, thematically anyway, for a story ostensibly about the collateral damage and trauma that Wolverine leaves behind to focus more on the victims of all that than on Logan himself.  Their unknown victims taking their revenge and I can understand Aaron not wanting a narrative that keeps them voiceless.  That said, I can’t shake how weird it feels for such a history-based arc to basically be using Logan as little more than a plot device, nor can it escape my notice that the present-day plot involving Logan is bare-bones simple due to all the pages spent on the flashbacks.

Oh, and conceptually, I didn’t think Shadow Stalker was quite as cool as Cannonfoot was last month.  That said, that’s probably just more of a testament to the ridiculousness of Cannonfoot more than anything.

Conclusion: My grumbling about thematically understandable but still odd creative decisions aside, this is a really well-written comic with solid action scenes that I generally quite enjoyed.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans