The end is here, and Marvel is going all out to send one of their greatest superheroes off in style. Between the chromo cover, the bonus sketchbook by McNiven at the end, and the story itself, The Death of Wolverine #1 delivers enough intrigue and great moments that it is worth the $4.99 cover price.
Wolverine’s descent into mortality has been well documented in the regular series run by Paul Cornell, so Soule doesn’t waste a lot of time rehashing that information. Instead, Soule begins to emphasize the catastrophic nature of Wolverine’s predicament. Without his healing factor, Wolverine’s past is catching up to him in a big way. Dr. Reed Richards finds that Logan’s past recklessness has left destructive consequences on his physiology. This includes, but is not limited to, the chance of infection Logan runs every time he pops his claws.
Every consequence Soule highlights in the dialogue helps illustrate just how mortal Wolverine has become. Along with the physical damage, Wolverine has to deal with the idea that his enemies will probably come gunning for him once word gets out that he is mortal, sick, and defenseless.
The detailed way Soule highlights Wolverine’s problems places Wolverine’s past in contrast to his future. The reader may find themselves asking whether Wolverine’s past lifestyle–one of hard headed, take no prisoners ferocity–is worth the ensuing chaos he will surely be put through. This may be the most relevant question in this issue, yet Wolverine answers it by charging head first into the challenge set forth by his enemies.
Soule does a great job of keeping Wolverine humbled to his current position, yet still unwilling to show weakness. As assassins and bounty hunters begin to track Logan, he shows that mortal, sick, and defenseless are just speed bumps on his road to finding a peaceful, quiet existence.
Steven McNiven’s art is exquisite throughout the issue as he shows both strength and weakness in the physical portrayal of Wolverine. The pain Wolverine feels now is expertly juxtaposed with his stubbornness as he goes against Richards’s advice and pops his claws only to cover the wounds with a bar rag drenched in whiskey. McNiven also visually contrasts Wolverine’s fragility and strength as he battles the much larger Nuke on an island shore.
The last two standout aspects of this issue would be the chrome cover and the sketchbook at the end. While some may not go for gimmicks like specialized covers, McNiven, Leisten, Ponsor, and the Marvel publishing staff did an amazing job of making the chrome cover look beautiful. The cover illustration is so perfectly entwined with the chrome background that it is hard not to continually look at the detail.
McNiven’s sketchbook at the end conveys some of his creative process in drawing the series. We get rejected sketches for the cover as well as interior sketches in various forms of completion along with McNiven’s commentary. Some readers may find this section to be disappointing as it does take up about half the issue, yet die-hard fans of McNiven’s artwork and the overall creative process that goes into creating a single issue will find it entertaining and enlightening.
Overall, Soule, McNiven, and the rest of the creative team of this issue do an excellent job of dispelling an diffidence people may have with this series by constructing a well written, beautifully constructed story.