Images & Words – Wolverine: The Best There Is #1

[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]

When I started reading comics in the early 1990s, I was diehard fan of the X-Men. Was it because of the riveting dichotomy of Charles Xavier and Magneto, analogues for the contrasting perspectives of civil rights activists Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X? Or was it the fact that the mutants of the Marvel Universe represented the repressed others of society, forced to live under conditions not dissimilar to our own rampant homophobia? Or could it be the introduction of new characters like Gambit?

Fugg that noise, bub. I loved the X-Men because of Wolverine.

Even as a four-year in ratty sweatpants and a mustard-stained B.U.M. shirt, I understood the wonder of Weapon X. He’s a mysterious, beer-guzzlin’ Canadian who beats ass as he sees fit but secretly has a heart of gold. His costume is bright yellow and blue, with some seriously sick earflaps. And if you ever need someone to clear out a room of bad-guys, just cheese him off enough and let him do his thing.

Unfortunately, I feel as though Wolverine’s become a bit watered down over the last few years. In the comics world, Logan’s been given a lame-ass son and an unnecessary origin. In the larger world of pop culture, a Wolverine received a cash-grab origins flick. The truly great additions to this Canuck’s mythos have been few and far between.

But I think Wolverine: The Best There Is gives the character his just due.

When I went to pick up my weekly supply of funny-mags, my attention was drawn to a cover with Wolverine going to town on some unseen enemy. Recognizing the art as that of Bryan Hitch, I picked up the issue to give it a closer look. While this certainly seems superficial of me, I can’t deny that I was even more intrigued by the cover’s warning:


“Oh shit,” I mouthbreathed, “I’m so fuggin’ in.”

And after reading the book, I can say that if you like the idea of an R-rated Wolvie story, you need to get the fugg in too. Charlie Huston, whose work I’m totally unfamiliar with, pens a script that is brutal and witty and at some points even jaw-dropping. The comic opens with Wolverine, naked and confined to a cage, being tased by a couple of hillbillies. Turns out that when Logan was drunk, a couple of anti-mutant hicks slipped a mutation-restraining collar on him. He’s then forced to fight animals and freaks and other sci-fi creatures in an underground fight club.

Of course, once Logan manages to break his collar during a fight with a freako he’s able to pop his claws. And once the SNIKT! rings throughout the arena, there’s no stopping the Wolverine.

From there, the comic sees Wolverine catching a ride from a beautiful, big-busted woman (aren’t they all in comics?) who takes him to a sick party. Once there, Logan drinks some beers and makes some moves on the dance floor — I’m not joking. It’s awesome. But as it’s the first issue of a new series, shit starts to go down when Contagion (a new bad guy) slips our (anti)hero a hallucinogen that leaves him claw-poppin’ his own guts.

It’s always great to see Wolverine in his element — drunk, ultraviolent, and mackin’ on babes. But thanks to Juan Jose Ryp’s art, Wolverine: The Best There Is shows the inebriation, violence, and sexuality at its finest. While I can’t say he’s my favorite artist, I’ve always found his art to be captivating; I’ve never purchased a Ryp book just for his work, but my allegiance to Warren Ellis has seen me pick up a few of their collaborations.

Ryp is on point in this comic. Perhaps it is because of the rather simple story, but everything he puts on the page is spot-on. The massacres are gruesome. The dames are dimes. And page layouts are bounteous, leaving plenty of room for splashes and giant-sized SNIKT!s. Ryp illustrates the book with an alternating grit and shine that fits the story of a kind-hearted ruthless killer.

If you have an admiration for Wolverine, you need to pick this book up immediately. Sure, you could see the Ol’ Canucklehead in a slew of Marvel books — Huston even has him take a jab at his spread-too-thin status:

“Babe, I got too many teams…They’re busy people. Time traveling, visiting alternate earths, negotiating with alien species.”

But if you want to be reminded why Wolverine is the best there is, read Wolverine: The Best There Is.