Writer Charles Soule continues his epic story bringing our classic Logan back into the scheme of things with Return Of Wolverine #2. This issue really heats up in the claw department, but not there’s not much else going on.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
The first issue of this series was a brutal, bloody masterpiece that turned the hype up on Logan’s return in a major way. Artist Steve McNiven checked all the boxes needed to get readers even more excited than we already were. Return Of Wolverine #2 is a different story.
Wolverine and Ana are in hot pursuit, via boat, of the bad guy squad who took her son. The entire issue takes place on a speedboat and Wolverine is accidentally wearing a Bond-girl’s outfit. The gang of villains unleashes two thugs on their pursuers, one being Omega Red and the other ends up being Wolverine’s son Daken.
Ana quickly disposes of Omega Red with a harpoon gun and Wolverine throws down some adamantium with his son that he doesn’t remember. We get our first look at Logan’s new “hot claws” ability as he sprays his son with gasoline and ignites the fuel with his claws.
The reveal of these new spicy claws was met with understandable divide. Does Wolverine really need a need power after all these years of him being perfect? Is the story in which we finally get him back in our lives the best time to introduce said power? It doesn’t matter, they’re here and this first scene with them is actually effective and exciting.
Logan explains that this new ability not only drains him of a lot of his energy, but also that it only effects his popped hand-claws. We’re even treated to a nice shot of them burning hot underneath his skin before he pops them to burn his son to death. I respect that Soule wasted no time establishing some rules up front about this probably unnecessary new addition.
Ana and Logan keep getting closer and she shows her gratitude for his heroics by laying an awkward smooch on him. Charles Soule is an extremely talented writer who usually delivers believable relationships and dialogue, but this issue has none of that. No offense to Ana, but Logan doesn’t have time to be smooching a new lady when he doesn’t even remember his son that he just burnt to a crisp.
My biggest issue with Return Of Wolverine‘s second chapter is that it abandons the crucial tone established in chapter one. There was a weight and urgency to issue #1 that is nowhere to be found in this one-note boat chase. It’s probably going to be really problematic for those who read this in trade form as these two issues have completely different tones.
A lot of the tonal shift falls on the shoulders of artist Declan Shalvey. Sometimes a brilliant artist gets put on the wrong title, that’s the case with Shalvey. He’s a spectacular comic book artist but the unpolished cartoon style we’re exposed to here just doesn’t stack up to what McNiven established in Return Of Wolverine #1.
There’s enough doofy facial expressions on both Wolverine and Ana early on that it almost immediately takes the reader out of the story. Shalvey and colorist Laura Martin both deserve credit for delivering our first taste of “hot claws” that effectively keeps them from being lame right out of the gate.
Return Of Wolverine #2 is a clear step down from the first installment in pretty much every single way. Soule and Shalvey disappoint with this skippable issue following what was an absolutely perfect kick-off in chapter one. Outside of a surprisingly interesting debut for Logan’s “hot claws,” there’s nothing of note or much craft to even digest.