Written by: Charles Soule & Ray Fawkes
Art by: Ario Anindito
Charles Soule was absolutely one of the breakout talents in comics in 2014. But I also felt that he fell slightly from grace at the year’s end. This period of time saw Soule transition from breakout freelancer to being locked into a Marvel exclusive contract. His first major project as part of the formal Marvel bullpen was Death of Wolverine; a story that felt very contrived, disjointed, and impure. Simply not the most well-knitted story that Soule had written. Whether it was due to schedule pressure, editorial oversight, or just the weather, Soule’s fall and winter offerings were not as strong as his runs on She-Hulk and Superman/Wonder Woman. Wolverines #16 makes me feel like he’s gotten his groove back, and that’s a good thing.
This issue continues the story of six refugees from Arcadia, an organization partially responsible for or simply the inheritors of the Weapon X program. Engineered to develop the super-powers they now possess, the group is fragmented by the disloyalty frequently displayed by in-the-band/out-of-the-band member Neuro, and this time it lands them right back in the hands of the Arcadians. The twist this time is that our old pal Mr Sinister is also sniffing around the spiritual descendants of Wolverine. Add five mainstays from the X-Men universe (Mystique, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, X-23, and Daken) who are now teaming up with The Wolverines, and you have a pretty explosive mixture.
I would really like to see Soule on an Avengers book, because one of the things he does so well is manage the screen-time for such a large ensemble cast. I never felt rushed or like the story was jumbled or that one of the characters was being brushed over. The main story-focus here is on Shogun, the defacto leader of the Wolverines, but Soule does not feature him to the point of entirely ignoring the others.
I’m not certain what “Enhanced” Pencils and “Enhanced” Colors are, but I like them both from artists Ario Anindito and Sonia Oback. With a high level of talent further bolstered by what I guess must be some computer driven magic, this is one of the best books in terms of art that I have seen in some time. From the opening page with all of the reflections on and from the mirror’s glass, through the immense action scenes near the end, this is a fun ride of delicious artistic flair. Oback’s colors provide Anindito’s pencils bursting depth and differentiation. Anindito draws a very bulky Raven Darkholme, which is my one detraction. She looks like a body builder. But, man…these colors are so rich and wonderful. Flipping through the book again and they are just…superb.
Soule has a lot to juggle here, but he does so with aplomb. A solid, well-knit story, coupled with solid art and pretty damned amazing colors. I once said that nothing good came in the wake of the Death of Wolverine. I thank the creative team on Wolverines for proving me wrong.