Wolverine has faced a lot of challenges during Paul Cornell’s run on the title. He’s lost his healing factor, been humiliated both physically and emotionally, and has faced his fear of death. In Wolverine #12, Wolverine’s journey comes full circle in a surprisingly well done final issue.
It has been awkward to watch one of Marvel’s cornerstone heroes, who has exemplified strength, toughness, and loneliness for many years take such a turn towards humanity. Cornell does an excellent job of making that transition feel as natural as possible.
In this issue, Wolverine comes face to face with Sabertooth once again in a crowded mall. Working with S.H.I.E.L.D., Wolverine confronts Sabertooth prior to his sinister plot to create an ideal world with a mysterious orb. Cornell brings his run full circle by placing Wolverine in this scenario and allows him to live the lessons he’s learned since losing his healing factor. In a pivotal scene, Wolverine strips away his armor and faces his fear of death head on. This scene pushes Wolverine past the lone animal Sabertooth wishes he would become and humbles him to life as a mortal.
With the Death of Wolverine mini-series looming in the distance like a dark cloud this final issue could have gone many different ways, yet Cornell stays true to the story he started, shows decent character development within a character that has already had so much told, and leaves the reader feeling the effects of Wolverine’s long journey.
However, Woods’s art is mediocre at best throughout the issue. Woods’s depiction of Wolverine during his battle with Sabertooth vaguely resembles Sylvester Stallone à la Rocky, which gives a cartoonish feel to the comic that doesn’t fit well with Cornell’s script.
As an added bonus to the issue, Cornell provides two back-up stories; one from an alternate reality viewpoint, and the second from the viewpoint of Max Moore, the owner of the Guernica bar where Wolverine goes to find aid. The first back-up titled “That Which Didn’t Happen” provides an intriguing look at what would have happened if Wolverine had accepted the Microverse infection’s offer to restore his healing factor. The second story titled “Guernica” simply provides some background on the bar, its role in Wolverine’s life, and its overall role in the superhero game. Both stories provide an interesting view into the overall story Cornell has told. Salvador Larroca provides the art for these two stories and he provides a significant step up from the art in the main story.
Overall, Cornell’s stories wrap up his run on Wolverine well. The way he conveys Wolverine’s growth is well done. Unfortunately, the art in the main story is lacking and, at times, cartoonish, which drags the overall tone down. The back up stories try to revive the issue, but doesn’t quite get the job done.