Marvel is inching ever closer to Logan’s full-fledged return with the culmination of multiple Hunt for Wolverine miniseries in the Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends one-shot! Plus, flash back to the beginning of Matt Murdock and Misty Knight’s relationship in Daredevil Annual #1! Welcome to The Marvel Rundown!
Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Stefano Caselli
Colored by Triona Farrell
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Alexander Jones: Marvel’s search for Wolverine is finally converging in Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends. AJ and Joe, did this one-shot do the impossible? Did it get you excited for the return of Wolverine? What was it worth all the ancillary mini-series?
Joe Grunenwald: I don’t know if ‘excited’ is the right word. This one-shot had a difficult task in front of it to bring the disparate threads of four different series together and still make sense, and I think it did a fine job. I would say, more than ‘excited’, it made me anxious for the real story to begin.
AJ Frost: I’ll echo Joe and also bring up the point that this really felt like a bottle-neck episode of a TV show. Lots of expository dialogue with one major action piece to boot. The story was all presented well and there were some twists and turns. But was it the most exciting material? I can’t say it was, though I’m interested in the next piece of the puzzle.
Jones: This is the first installment of the entire Wolverine return I think is actually worth reading. The structure of the four ancillary minis where nothing happened was a poor idea even if it wasn’t executed badly. I think the approach would have been better served with an ongoing series like Marvel Two-in-One leading into a greater story. I really don’t have any reservations with this comic and think it is great for people who are interested in the return of Wolverine because it gives you an excuse to sidestep the minis.
Grunenwald: I absolutely agree on the last point. You can come into this fresh without having read any of the preceding miniseries and not miss a beat. It summarizes the big points from those series clearly and I didn’t feel like I’d missed anything important not having read them.
Frost: I thought it was interesting that Soule chose to place the locus of action in the dialogue. While the back half of the book is a major action sequence, the juiciest bits of the story were all laid out in a conversation. On some level, Soule knew he had this task of getting new readers up to speed while also prepping the pieces for the next part of the arc. In that way, it’s a skillful display of careful pacing and (mostly) nuanced narrative. And now that you’ve framed the book that way, Alex (as a connector of disparate minis), I actually like the book a lot of more.
Jones: I think it is a good story and Soule played the hand he was dealt very well. I actually liked the inclusion of the greater Marvel Universe here and found it kind of interesting to see Tony Stark walk into the X-Mansion and see some of the new X-Men revelations and their current state of affairs. Soule’s love for Daredevil is increasingly well-documented but he also brought that same interesting outsider’s perspective here.
Frost: Totally agree. It’s always fun when disparate parts of the Marvel universe team up. Seeing Tony in the X-mansion was a real treat. It’s fun seeing superhumans so grumpy!
Grunenwald: The brief scene – I think it’s just one panel – when Tony and DD first enter the mansion and we see some unnamed mutant students just doing normal teenager things actually made me smile a lot. Most of life at the mansion has to be relatively mundane and I don’t think we see that often enough.
Frost: They’re probably playing a lot of Fortnite in between classes.
Grunenwald: That part and Kitty having one of the students at the school make her a PowerPoint for extra credit were probably my favorite parts of the issue. And maybe it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the issue because I picked the two smallest things as my favorite things, but I actually enjoyed it a great deal.
Jones: So we’ve been waiting a while to figure out what the hell is going on with Wolverine. Without any spoilers, did the reveal live up to the hype?
Grunenwald: I think the reveal was fine. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how he ended up the way he is now. They can’t give away the farm in the prelude issue, after all.
But I’m intrigued to learn the answers to those questions.
Frost: Yeah, the reveal was good. Though readers will have to determine for themselves whether it was super-impactful or just a headscratcher. And I ain’t telling!
Jones: I’m worried Marvel will try to resolve the plot thread too quickly because Wolverine is getting his own solo title really soon. I want to see Wolverine really pushed to his limits before he comes back and the status quo goes back to normal. Only time will tell what happens.
Frost: Logan is always being pushed around. He never gets a break, ya know?
Grunenwald: If you took out the first half of the issue, I really think the second half – after all of the exposition – is a great comic all on its own. I appreciated what seemed like Soule trying to do new things with the characters in this issue. There are new elements being thrown into the mix, and new ways of using the characters and their powers.
Jones: What did both of you think about the art from Ramon Rosanas on the interiors?
Frost: I was just about to ask that! I thought the artwork was really good, and the attention paid to facial expressions was the highlight. Rosanas has a great way of conveying direct emotion through facial architecture alone.
Grunenwald: I enjoyed the art as well. We’ve mentioned the large amounts of exposition in this issue, and I think Rosanas handled it well, fitting in panels of action where he could and otherwise doing a solid job with the talking heads.
Jones: I’m going to disagree with Joe. I think the work here is technically strong. However, there are lots of characters just standing around doing nothing when they probably should have had a stronger, more pronounced main action or more interesting layouts. Some of the architecture was really nice and the last pages were pretty cool. It isn’t bad interior work in a comic like this.
Frost: The slow build from the quietude of a lecture hall to the explosions near the upper echelons of the Earth’s atmosphere and then back down again was a nice ride, made all the more enjoyable by the solidity of the art.
Jones: I resent that I’m arguing against that.
Grunenwald: It’s true that there’s nothing particularly innovative about the page layouts during those lecture sequences, but I liked it as a contrast with the action in the latter half of the issue. Again, it’s the mundane things that interested me in the first half of the book.
Jones: I think the creative team here did a solid job with this really editorially-driven installment. What were your final thoughts?
Frost: A nice connecting issue that gives readers the chance to catch up and/or reset their expectations about the search for Wolverine! After a lot of deliberation, I’m giving this one a BUY.
Grunenwald: I agree with AJ. This is a solid entry point, nicely tying up the threads from the stories that came before it and kicking off the proper return of Wolverine in an interesting way. I’d call this a BUY as well.
Jones: I think this is a solid BUY as well. If you care about Wolverine this is a good place to check in.
Final Verdict: A unanimous BUY!
Written by Erica Schultz
Illustrated by Marcio Takara
Colored by Marcelo Maiolo
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Alexander Jones: For whatever reason, Marvel has decided to publish an annual featuring the man without fear. This issue features some of the earliest encounters between Detective Misty Knight and the vigilante known as Daredevil. What did you guys think about the issue?
AJ Frost: While not bad, I thought it was a little too cute by half. A major theme of this annual is the cliched conflict between the regular cops on the beat and the heroes fighting on the rooftop. If there was something new to say about this dichotomous approach to what being a “hero” means, I might have leaned in a little bit more. But I found the book to be a little yawn-inducing to say the least.
Jones: Holy shit, AJ, that’s me in every single installment of this column.
Frost: We’re on the same wavelength!
Joe Grunenwald: ‘Cute’ is exactly the word I said to myself when I finished the issue. It was cute. And I agree completely that the story didn’t have anything new to say. I appreciate that Marvel is doing these one-shot flashback annuals, but I think in order to justify doing a flashback tale it has to be a story that reveals something about the characters or situations, and there’s nothing new here at all.
Frost: It’s really not that there’s nothing new, it’s that all the plot elements here have been done a million ways from Sunday, and usually a lot better. There’s a checklist of tropes that pulp writers got tired of a long time ago.
Jones: “Careful detective, you may just start to LIKE superheroes.” “Yeah, don’t bet on it.” I mean that’s kind of like nailing the point home with a jackhammer in a really clumsy way.
Frost: We even get a nice greasy gangster telling some dame “You’re coming with us, capische?” Whoo boy!
Grunenwald: I did appreciate getting a look at Daredevil earlier in his career. He was very Spider-Man-like in this issue with his banter, which is closer in tone to how he was when he first appeared than he eventually ended up. That said, this was a missed opportunity to feature his hideously incredible yellow-and-red original costume.
Jones: It looks like this is some of the first Big Two published work from Erica Shultz, who was in the first DC Writer’s Workshop. In that respect, I agree with Joe. There are plenty of scenes in this issue that are just pleasant, but comics that are just fine are kind of outnumbered by all the great titles on the shelves right now.
Frost: The whole affair just felt insubstantial. There’s pleasantness, and there’s doing something bold. The annual is supposed to give writers more wiggle room to be daring, and I thought this was extraordinarily safe. Not bad per se, but nothing to write home about either.
Grunenwald: Yeah, it’s perfectly inoffensive. I did enjoy Marcio Takara’s art here, though.
Frost: The Ben-Day Dotted opening and closing pages were the most intriguing to me (though I personally enjoy that aesthetic). The rest I felt was pretty par for the course, and pretty bulky.
Grunenwald: I liked how he aped a Skottie Young style on those pages.
Jones: Takara’s art is pretty wildly expressive and off-kilter. The art adds a lot of personality to the issue that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Some of the fight scenes and the silly looks Daredevil gives off are great. I agree with AJ, I think artistically the opening and closing pages were beautiful. I would cite this comic as a great example of where the scenes with talking heads are loaded with lots of kinetic movement making the issue feel really dynamic and give off the illusion of motion.
Frost: Yeah, I don’t know. Even the motion just felt stilted rather than truly dynamic. That’s my takeaway from this issue.
Grunenwald: I wonder if part of your issue, AJ, is the coloring. This is a much darker color palette than I’m used to seeing on Takara. I’m primarily familiar with him from work on Nightwing and The Flash, both of whom are very movement-oriented characters but also generally brighter in nature. Those Young-style pages are brightly colored, but the rest of the issue is kind of muddy and muted. I wonder if Takara’s normally kinetic style doesn’t really mesh well with that sort of tone. I didn’t have a problem with it on my first pass, but I can see where the movement within the linework kind of gets bogged down as I look at it again.
Jones: I mean, I’m looking at some of the pages where Daredevil is in motion and I could definitely feel some of the movement. I think the coloring does detract from some of the work.
Frost: Maybe that’s it. Too heavy-handed in the coloring.
Grunenwald: It doesn’t pop off the page the way I would have wanted it to.
Jones: What are your final thoughts on the issue gentlemen?
Frost: Wasn’t feeling this one at all, but I’m vacillating between WEAK BROWSE and SKIP. It’s not horrible, but it’s nothing essential.
Grunenwald: I’m calling this one a BROWSE. It’s a pretty average self-contained story. If you’ve got five bucks burning a hole in your pocket for a Daredevil comic you could do worse than this, but you could also probably do better.
Jones: You know what guys, nobody needs this comic in my opinion. If I can’t recommend an issue to anyone, I say SKIP!
Frost: Glad we survived this week’s Rundown with our masculinity intact!
Final Verdict: Joe and AJ say BROWSE, Alexander says SKIP!
Next week, meet the Asgardians of the Galaxy!