It’s a damn fine time to be an X-Men fan. With either an issue of Powers of X or House of X coming out every week until October 9th, Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men saga is slowly becoming one of the most interesting, complex mutant stories in years. The internet is already full of complex run-downs of each issue, so instead the HiX-Men moment of the week column will highlight one character or interaction that is worthy of fans’ attention. This week, Wolverine gets the spotlight.

Just as a heads up, I’m going to try my best to keep this column relatively spoiler-free and avoid the major events of each issue, but sometimes little bits of information will leak out so make sure to only read this column after going through the week’s new issue!

Weapon X is still on the job

Wolverine has an oversized presence in Marvel Comics overall, but Powers of X #3 marks the first time everyone’s favorite bub finally makes more than a minor cameo in Hickman’s story. Issue #3 takes place entirely in the ninth Moira MacTaggert’s timeline, the one where she abandoned both Xavier and Magneto to instead join forces with Apocalypse.

Apocalypse may lead the mutant rebellion in the X2 timeline, but even as leader of the X-Men he is still in need of his four horsemen. Wolverine previously served as Death during the “Apocalypse: The Twelve” storyline, but this marks the first time the veteran of almost every major 20th century war — and even the Civil War if anyone cares about Wolverine: Origins — takes on the role of War. Like any good soldier, Wolverine is constantly putting himself on the front lines, taking heavy blows, and even insisting that he confront Nimrod himself despite how injured he clearly is.

HiX-Men Moment of the Week Wolverine
Put me in, coach! I’m ready to play.

Throughout the issue, there are snippets of interaction between Wolverine and Apocalypse that show James Howlett is the same person he’s always been, despite how much everything has changed around him. In a world full of sterile machines, Wolverine is still in the front of the pack, using his trusty nose to sniff out danger and orient the team whenever they’re on the field. Grim as ever, he tells his team leader that the whole world stinks of death as a result of the war between organic life and machines, a subtle indicator of just how far Wolverine is willing to go to save the day.

HiX-Men Moment of the Week Wolverine
The best at being shirtless.

It always falls on Wolverine, the man with a permanently stained conscious, to perform heartbreaking actions for the betterment of everyone. Wolverine may be a beast, ready to switch over to Berzerker Mode at any moment to defend his loved ones, but it’s clear he still feels pained by the tasks he has to perform. Thanks to artist R.B. Silva, a sense of pain is noticeable on Wolverine’s face essentially throughout Powers of X #3, but his grief becomes palpable at the end of the issue. Even if Clayton Cowles’ letters weren’t present, Silva’s pencils are powerful enough to evoke just how distressed Wolverine feels in that moment. No matter how challenging something may be, Wolverine, Apocalypse’s living embodiment of War, is always willing to make a tough decision if it leads to something positive.

I won’t spoil what Wolverine has to do at the end of the issue, but the climax perfectly encapsulates the bitter-sweet, ominous tone that Hickman is establishing so far with this run. The major stakes are entertaining and certainly a major part of what keeps readers coming back, but it’s his thorough understanding of the characters that makes these books compelling. No matter how big everything gets, these books truly shine in the small moments between characters and Wolverine is finally getting to interact with his fellow mutants.

Before there was a column, I talked about the work being done to make Cyclops a sexy confident leader again. Check it out here and I’ll see you all neXt week!