By: Zeb Wells (Writer), Joe Madureira (Artist), Peter Steigerwald (Colorist)

The Story: Elektra is elusive, Wolverine might have anger issues and Kingpin is shady. Also includes ninjas.

The Review: I had my doubts about continuing this series. After the last disappointing issue, I wasn’t sure if this title could keep my interest. However, I was quickly reminded that this title had kind of become some kind of home for writers and artists to do original stories featuring the ol’ canucklehead when I saw that it was both Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira that took hold of the title as a follow-up to Frank Cho’s tenure. Does this duo make a better argument for such a title when Frank Cho didn’t do so well in retrospective?

Surprisingly, they do give us a story that focuses a bit more on Wolverine, connecting a bit more with whom the character and what he does. The story starts with Wolverine being angry, out of his mind as we’re thrown to the end of a conflict where he took some big hits. As the story goes from here, we see a bit how he interacts with some of his Avengers team-up and with one of his always entertaining team-up partner: Spider-Man. Considering the lack of importance of continuity for this story, we are given the real Peter Parker version here, which could be considered a nice bonus for those not on board with the whole Spider-Ock thing, as we see his usual uncomfortable shenanigans and interactions with Wolverine, which are always entertaining.

What is also entertaining is the whole ninja/Asian aspect of the story, which always works quite well with Wolverine ever since the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller classic story. A team-up with Elektra later and we see a promise of action as we get some small little twists in the plot, while it sets itself quite well for what will soon follow.

However, there are some very small faults in this comic, the first of them being a complete lack in subtlety. Sure, it is no big deal when we are set up for a big action comic, yet a lot of what we see here is setup to said big action that will no doubt come in the next issue at least. It is interesting setup, yet it is done in a rather hammy way, with some scenes featuring characters basically saying ‘’I am an evil being’’ or ‘’we are so going to be traitors in the next issues’’. There’s nothing wrong with being a tad predictable if it’s handled in an entertaining way, yet it’s not exactly something that builds up a compelling mystery. Accepting that it’s probably gonna end up being a big dumb action book; it could have done much worse.

It could also have done much worse in its choice of artist, as we see Joe Madureira return here, which is arguably the big draw of this arc. While I am not the most familiar with his style, I do know that it was most popular in the 90’s as he used to draw the X-Men during that period (though I’m perhaps mistaken in that aspect). His style seems a lot like Ed McGuiness as in a lot of the traits from each character are a tad exaggerated, most notably the muscles, albeit Madureira seems a tad more manga-inspired. Nonetheless, it is pretty expressive and it is a perfect match for such an unsubtle, yet Asian-themed story. The more muscular characters are very distinctive in comparison to the slimmer character, with Wolverine being a lot bulkier than Spider-Man and Elektra, but each characters are very expressive thanks to the body language and the facial features. The poses of each characters in each situation are clear, thanks to the precise work of Madureira and his designs for the original characters from the script are pretty interesting, especially those in the last page. Clearly, this script was suited just for him.

As great as Madureira is, I believe he would be close to nothing without Peter Steigerwald, who provides the colors for this issue. The shadows, the night-effect, the sunset and all those light effects are perfectly captured in the background and on the characters in such a way that it is almost impossible to properly describe. His large selection of warm colors when dealing with the Hands and the more Asian inspired scenes works quite well in setting the tone of aggression, but also of the tone of danger, which suits the characters and the circumstances in a great fashion.

The Conclusion: While it is by no mean subtle in its plot or in its art, there’s a lot of energy given in the right place. With Joe Madureira and Steigerwald rocking the art, it is worth the time to see if you like where this action-oriented storyline might go.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière