Wolverine
Wolverine: Weapon X
Medium: comic
Year: 1991
Writer/artist: Barry Windsor-Smith
Keywords: superhero
Series: << Wolverine >>
Format: Marvel Comics Presents #72-84, 120 pages
Website category: Comics
Review date: 27 October 2021
This was the first time Marvel explored Wolverine's origins. At the time, this comic was divisive. It doesn't make Wolverine look cool and badass. Instead, it turns him into a rather pathetic and self-destructive drunkard and loose cannon who got fired from his black ops job because he's not bothered by shooting the wrong people. That's basically the introduction, though. He gets kidnapped by some highly questionable scientists and turned into a hunk of meat who's barely even sentient for most of the story.
They accidentally give him his claws, which are disgusting. They lose a whole lot of guards. They deliberately send in their own lab assistants to "investigate" Logan and get shredded, then lie afterwards about having done so. "Yes, it's tragic. Whatever could have possessed him to enter the booth?"
The story's disorientating. Even before Wolverine gets captured, the narrative feels somewhat fragmented and stream-of-consciousness. It's unclear what we're meant to be following. It plays out more like a horror film than anything else, albeit an aggressively non-supernatural one. The Professor, Carol Rice and Dr Cornelius are mad scientists, building an unstoppable killing machine that will hate them like poison when it wakes up. Mmmm. That can't possibly go wrong, can it? (The Professor probably is mad, or at least psychotic, evil and self-absorbed. Dr Cornelius and Carol are nicer, but that doesn't stop them from following orders. At one point, Carol expresses sympathy for some wolves. What about sympathy for Logan, then?)
Basically, it's a Frankenstein movie. You'll also see people comparing it to a slasher film, which isn't absurd either. It's not unlike watching a Friday the 13th film and cheering for Jason Vorhees.
It also feels incomplete, I think. It ends with one foot in the air. The baddies might look as if they're about to die, but this is comics and so one imagines that they'll return again... and again... and again.
It's written, pencilled, inked, coloured and even sometimes lettered by Barry Windsor-Smith. (He's British, but he's lived in the USA for the last fifty years.) Frankly, my graphic collection looks gaudy and horrible. I expect the original issues were printed on the usual toilet paper with limited colour options, making it look odd in a modern reprint. The art's quite interesting, though, and I'm sure it shocked readers in 1991.
Do I like this book? Hmmmm. Not sure. It's brave, though. It feels as if it was written by an artist rather than a writer, but it's not afraid to ignore everyone's expectations of a Wolverine comic book. It's not even the genre you'd assume. People still remember it, though, and put it in top ten lists of Wolverine stories. If nothing else, it's undeniably a story capable of eliciting that kind of response.