Review: Rampaging Wolverine showcases four B&W adventures of Marvel's colorful mutant

Rampaging Wolverine ($3.99) is both an in-joke and an interesting experiment. The in-joke appears in the very title Rampaging Wolverine, a tribute to an oversized black-and-white Rampaging Hulk magazine that Marvel published for a while a few decades back. Only longtime readers remember that one, as good as it sometimes was, but this one-shot appropriates the adjective, the cover copy and some of the design elements anyway. Fine obscure joke, but what matters, of course, is whether the interior contents do anything interesting with a character who already appears in umpty-ump comics each month.

So what do we have? "Sense Memory," written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and drawn by Fred Diaz Luque, features our six-clawed mutant dealing with old business on the island of Madripoor, which fans may remember as the site of many of his solo adventures. The art makes the most of the black-and-white format, with subtle shades more than making up for the absence of color, and fine detail work giving a realistic edge to a tale involving piracy and revenge. In both story and art, it's the finest work in the issue.

"Unconfirmed Kill," written by Chris Yost and drawn by Mateus Santoluoco, comes a close second. It's told from the point of view of an accomplished sniper, not Wolverine, who grows increasingly perturbed as the enemy he cuts down in the jungle persists in coming no matter how many rounds get pumped into him. The artwork doesn't use black and white nearly as well as the first story, and the suspense is nil, since we already know the identity of that unstoppable figure on the ground and understand that he'll heal every wound that sniper can inflict ... but it's still giggle-worthy to see how this feels to the unnerved fella pulling the trigger. And there's a nice punchline, too.

Alas, the quality level drops after that. "Kiss, Kiss," by Robin Furth, is a text story taking place immediately after "Unconfirmed Kill," pitting Wolverine against a mind-controlling giant spider. The story's awkward structure requires Wolverine to give a last-minute one-paragraph explanation of what he "later" found out about the monster's origins. It reads as though Furth suddenly realized there wasn't much space left and wrapped up the story in a hurry. The result is profoundly unsatisfying.

So is "Modern Primitive," both written and drawn by Ted McKeever, which pits Logan against hostile apes on a deserted island. McKeever's an accomplished comics professional with a fine body of work behind him, but action's not his strong suit, and the story isn't much to write home about.

So, Rampaging Wolverine. Four stories. One good, one amusing, two not very good at all. An interesting stylistic experiment worth trying again, but one that had only mixed results this time.

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