Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #1–4 by Jason Aaron, Stephen Segovia and Paco Diaz Luque
A Wolverine mini-series that is essentially a love note to wushu movies (and Bruce Lee in particular – individual chapters are called ‘Enter The Wolverine’ and ‘The Way Of The Black Dragon’), written by Jason Aaron? For only £4 from the Gosh! pack sale shelf? Yes, thank you.
This is silly but in a deliberate way, and it’s a lot of fun. The X-Men have moved to San Francisco and Wolverine has his memory back, so he remembers an incident in the San Francisco Chinatown from 50 years ago that needs to be resolved. Which means it’s time for lots of kung fu references, an appearance from The Sons Of The Tiger (Marvel martial arts heroes from the 1970s), Logan being trained by his old shifu, Master Po (the catch-up text at the beginning of issue 3 gets it wrong by calling him ‘sensei’, the Japanese term for ‘master’, which I guess I means that Aaron didn’t write it), and lots of action.
Aaron is obviously a kung fu movie fan because there are some great bits in this story – someone who can punch you in the soul, the martial arts schools of this Chinatown (The Dim Mak Fighting Academy, The Hung Gar Kung Fu Club, The Wu-Tang Boxing society, The One-Armed Swordsmen), the storyline of honour and who is in charge of the Black Dragon gang. There is some great dialogue (Wolverine: ‘You have any idea how many ninjas I’ve killed over the years?’ Po: ‘Ninjas are unskilled imbeciles. Any fool can kill a ninja. My dog could kill a ninja.’) and some nice throwbacks (Nightcrawler asks: ‘This isn’t about my mother again, is it?’, referring to Aaron’s Get Mystique story). It’s just a lot of fun.
The art is mostly handled by Segovia, who has a really nice style, a bit like a looser Francis Leinil Yu (which is a good thing), but it’s a poor show if he can’t handle the pencilling duties for a four-issue mini-series on his own – he is helped out by Luque in the last two issues, who is a good artist but perhaps a bit more of a 1990s vibe to his work, not quite as expressive or as inventive as Segovia. It’s disheartening when a mini-series can’t have the same art on four issues, and also slightly off-putting; it would have made the series even better.