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

The Story: Someone’s trying to start a war between the Hand and the Yakuza and naturally, Wolverine and Melita find themselves caught in the middle.

The Review:  This issue serves as a nice little cross-section of several of the things that have worked well in Jason Aaron’s tenure on Wolverine.  You’ve got balls to the wall action, Logan’s unique way of fumbling through a romantic relationship, and Aaron’s twisted brand of humour.  While the result doesn’t re-invent the wheel, it does lead to a really fun time that would have you thoroughly entertained for the entirety of its 22 pages and will give you a laugh on several occasions.

Personally, I really appreciated the mish-mash of genres present here, which in itself is another hallmark of Aaron’s run, which has seen him tell a wide variety of Wolverine-related stories.  You’ve got comedy, action, horror characters, crime drama, and ninjas all mixed up together into a potent and quick combination that feels like what a Wolverine comic should be.

Key to this mixture was Aaron’s bringing back a couple of his best Wolverine-related creations: the Buzzard Brothers.  I’d forgotten how absolutely hilarious these guys are.  It’s the twisted sort of stuff that could only come from the Jason Aaron who brought us Ghost Rider.  They’re caricatures straight out of Deliverance and the Hills Have Eyes and while horrific, are also great for a laugh.  They get several great lines and now, having gotten a power upgrade that seems to have made them nearly unkillable, they’re more over-the-top and slapstick than ever.  Seeing these guys show up in the middle of a Kingpin/Yakuza crime drama is mind-bending good fun and while you’d think it’d be jarring, I found myself just sitting back and enjoying the insanity.

And really, the action scenes in this month are just as nutty and over-the-top as the Buzzard Brothers themselves.  We get ninjas, asteroid busting sniper rounds (seriously), and Wolverine doing all manner of bad things to the unkillable Buzzards.  It leads a comic that moves at an incredibly brisk pace that never leaves the reader bored or adrift.

If anything, it’s the art that can’t always keep up.  While Guedes and Magalhaes’ work is extremely detailed, Guedes work at times has a vaguely grotesque style to it that isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing or light-hearted.  Frankly, while this worked when he was drawing Wolverine in hell, I can’t help but feel that Ron Garney would’ve been much more preferable for an issue like this one.  The colors don’t help either, as they don’t seem to be quite vibrant or lively enough.

That said, while this issue is only a prelude of things to come, it serves its purpose.  It kept me turning the pages, it introduced some fun new concepts (a mercenary A-Team type group composed entirely of Wolverine’s ex-girlfriends?  Sold!), and left us with one hell of a cliffhanger.

Conclusion: It’s action-heavy and not particularly revelatory, groundbreaking,  or emotionally evocative, but I cannot deny that this was a really fun comic that sees Jason Aaron clearly operating within his comfort zone.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans