Jason Aaron or: How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love the Wolverine (A Review of Wolverine #1)

I hated Wolverine. Seriously. Go ahead, start frothing at the mouth and forming your posts of venom and anger. I'm ready for them. The only good Wolverine stories I had ever read had been Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown (mostly for Jon J. Muth and Kent Williams' artwork than anything else) and Greg Rucka's run at the beginning of Wolverine Vol. 3 (which abandoned much of what had made Wolverine Wolverine for the previous 10 or so years and made him more of a hard boiled detective who sought revenge for the unfortunate innocents who had met him and in doing so had been caught up the wake of destruction that follows him). And then I read that one of my favorite writers was going to be writing a BRAND NEW WOLVERINE ONGOING! and I felt the overwhelming need to do two things: 1. Not read something written by one of my favorite new writers who I wanted so badly to support -or- 2. Bite back the taste of rising bile in my throat and Buy a Wolverine comic. He had managed to make me like Ghost Rider, a task I thought patently unachievable, so after giving it a lot of thought I wound up doing the latter and I wasn't disappointed. As a matter of fact it did what I had liked about the Rucka run. In many ways I found that written correctly ... I might even be becoming a Wolverine fan. And all it took was putting my prejudices aside and following, perhaps a little blindly, the instincts of a growing super-star: Jason Aaron.

The book was Wolverine: Weapon X and it promised to be a Wolverine book without being a Super-Hero book. And it was. And it was totally awesome as well. The first arc was Black-Ops Spy fare as Logan hunts down members of the BlackGuard Security firm (owned by the always villainous Roxxon Industries) who have been augmented by scientists using the files retrieved from the wreckage of the Weapon X program. Essentially laser claw wielding mercenaries who will work for the highest bidder is too much for Logan to bear and he goes on a hunt to find and destroy these men. The story was brilliant and carried the kind of voice and references that I had become accustomed to from Aaron. 

What he brings to the book is difficult to describe ... I've often said that he is the master of the moral grey and that he writes characters who are neither heroes nor villains better than almost anyone in the industry and also has sort of an everyman's literary style (I keep trying to come up with a better phrase than that but the only thing that comes to mind is "literary by way of gutshot last words" and I don't know how well that translates if you've not read his work) and he brings both of those aspects of his style to his Marvel work with great panache, but he also brings a sort of Grindhouse style to the world of super-heroics that seems at once strange and also immensely brilliant.

The arcs that followed in the Wolverine: Weapon X series would vary greatly. The second arc brought a horror story set in an insane asylum which brought numerous chills to my spine and the final arc was a sci-fi tale of Deathlok's coming back in time to kill threats before they reached adulthood ala Terminator but with a more interesting moral message. And then the series ended. As did all the other related Wolverine ongoing series. And a slew of NEW ONGOING WOLVERINE SERIES were announced. And once again Aaron's name was attached, and this time to the flagship title, and I was admittedly a little thrilled. 

This series starts from a pretty interesting point and also clearly continues the trend established in Weapon X of treating Wolverine more as a character who just happens to wear a costume from time to time than a costumed character. The first issue begins with Wolverine trying to understand his own place in the universe. After having had his entire life history unlocked during the House of M event he very quickly began a campaign of violence against those who had wronged him in the past. But now he finds himself at the end of all of that vengeance and is, in the wake of losing his best friend during Second Coming, starting to wonder how all the unchecked aggression is going to weigh on his immortal soul. And then things get weird. But weird in the kind of way that is signature Jason Aaron. It appears that Wolverine's body may have been overtaken by a demon, and the only way for that to have happened is that his soul is no longer in his body ... which opens up all kinds of pain for the man known as Logan. 

The series continues many of the narrative threads that had begun in Wolverine: Weapon X (perhaps most essentially his burgeoning relationship with San Francisco Post reporter Melita Garner) and so for those who had been reading and loving that title it's going to be an comfortable transition. For those who hadn't been reading the title it's going to be an easy transition as Wolverine is a renowned skirt chaser and has a trail of spurned and deceased former love interests as long as his origin story, but for an easy introduction pick up last week's (8/25/10) Wolverine: Saga for more information.  I think that this is going to be one of the more interesting eras for Wolverine and for Wolverine fans and I hope that Aaron's run is as long as it deserves to be (think Bendis on Daredevil), as his voice is the kind that has the potential to revolutionize the character and get the haters (of which I was one of their number) off James Howlett's back.