The second volume collecting Wolverine’s own title is reviewed below. Read on to see how it compares to the first volume.
Title: Essential Wolverine Vol. 2
Credited to: Larry Hama, Mark Silvestri and friends
Original Publication Date: October 2001 (Third Printing) reprint of material originally published in 1990 and 1991
Cover Price: $14.95US, $21.95 Can
Contents: This reprints issues 24-47 of Wolverine.
Buy from: Amazon.com
This is a collection of the adventures Wolverine has when he’s not with the X-Men.
This time it’s personal. In volume one, Wolverine just coasted through the stories, and only took part because his friends were involved. There was no personal investment in any of it from the title character. That’s fixed this time, bringing in personal villains and exposing aspects of his past. It makes a big difference. Unfortunately, that only starts half way through.
The uneven artwork. For most of this volume, this was a bi-weekly title. For a period, that meant that there would be one artist for the odd numbered issues, and a different artist for the even numbered issues. Some of the art isn’t particularly good, but even the good stuff suffers from the frequently changing styles.
In the originality department, this volume was weak. The Hunter In Darkness was the only storyline I can think of that wasn’t very similar to a very prominent other work. I understand the desire to stick with very basic elements for a character who’s only one step away from a wild animal, but it still feels like rehashed material. I give it 2 out of 6.
The artwork was, as I said above, very uneven. Mark Silvestri’s work was good, as was the work of some (but not all) of the major artists involved, but they were obviously different artists. When the artwork changes dramatically for each chapter of a multiple-issue story, it jars me out of the story. I give it 3 out of 6.
The story told here is much like that of the first volume. For the first half, Wolverine’s getting dragged into his friends’ adventures. Then Lady Deathstrike showed up, and it changed. She was Wolverine’s problem. Her story blended in with the other stories through most of the volume. Sabretooth showed up, and brought out all sorts of past baggage and new questions. The answers didn’t come in this volume, but I suspect they’ll start coming in with answers about the Weapon X project in volume 3 (which contains issues 48-69.) The story went out high, peaking my interest in volume 3 more than volume 1 inspired me to get volume 2. I give the story 4 out of 6.
The characterization is greatly improved over that of the first volume. When I pick up a book named after a character, I expect the story to focus on, and be important to, that character. That wasn’t the case in the first volume, but it is here. Wolverine’s behaviour is no more complex than it has ever been, but his demons and history start to come into play more often. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response through the first half was pretty poor, but it really improved in the second half. The plotlines became important to Wolverine, and that made them important to me. The second half drew me in, but the first half did not. I give it 3 out of 6.
The flow through battles and from panel to panel was good when Wolverine was fighting without allies. When he fought with allies, the fights became too talkative. Wolverine hits hard and fast; he doesn’t have time to hold complete conversations. I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, this was an entertaining volume, and I don’t regret buying it. The title really started to come together under Larry Hama, and I hope it stays that way through volume three. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Essential Wolverine Volume 2 received 24 out of 42.