Wolverine #20–25 by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr
Here’s the thing: I think John Romita Jr is a great artist but his art can be really ugly sometimes. I know that sounds contradictory, and I can’t fully explain or produce examples – it’s just a feeling. This is one of those occasions. There is spectacular action, superbly staged and choreographed, and excellent storytelling. But I don’t like the details of the artwork. It just doesn’t look appealing. Obviously, there is something wrong with me, but there you have it.
This is blockbuster comics – things don’t necessarily make sense but you go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Wolverine has been captured by Hydra and brainwashed into a double agent sent to kill … well, everyone. Nick Fury and Elektra are on the case, and we get to watch all the fights that occur: versus Elektra, versus an entire SHIELD aircraft carrier, versus sharks (sharks?! Are people just writing stuff for Chris Sims?), versus the Fantastic Four. All this to get new superagents for Hydra so they can be killed by the Hand and revived in a brainwashed capacity. Surely there are easier ways? (Although, the Miller quote suggests there is plenty of material: ‘Official SHIELD estimate is 4,700 costumes in the US as of last summer.’)
Being the best he is at what he does, he kills lots of people – Hornet of the Slingers is killed off-panel (which is a little harsh), served up to the gods of ‘this is serious; look, we’ve killed a named hero’. Throughout, all the characters talk the same, which is typical Millar tough guy dialogue – Elektra doesn’t sound the tortured soul we are accustomed to – but it’s all part of the style and you roll with it. You let him do the nice jokes, such as the conversation between Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost: Kitty – ‘Are you talking telepathically?’ Emma – ‘Sorry. Touch of laryngitis.’ Kitty – ‘Maybe you should cover up a little more.’
The bizarre aspect is with the villains behind Baron von Strucker – his third wife, Elspeth: 175 years old, fourth richest person in the world and a satanist. It’s very silly, even for a comic. Anyway, Logan goes to get Matt Murdoch (with some funny jealousy monologue about how he can’t understand how Murdoch gets all the ladies), and they fight, but it’s all a front so that Gorgon can kill Elektra (again – she has the most pitiful, turntable, revolving existence in the Marvel universe).
Finally, Logan fights the X-Men (because everyone else has been in the series, so they have to make an appearance) and he gets to kill Northstar before he gets beaten down by Captain America (with the line, ‘Heal this.’ – were all people in the 1940s so quippy or is it just Millar’s Captain America?). And so the first six issues ends satisfactorily but it sets it up for the next six issues – entertaining comic books in the hands of people who know what they are doing.