The last one of these reviews of something I have taken from the library ended up long, drawn-out and incoherent, rendering it little better than your average internet comments section. Hopefully, though, it was devoid of the rampant bigotry that generally infiltrates such ‘discussion spaces’, and so I am still in the clear, my soul as clean and fresh as it was before I wrote it.
Anyway, this blog post is about Wolverine: Evolution, which is written by Jeph Loeb, with pencils , inks and halftones by Simone Bianchi and Andrea Silvestri, with colours by a Party Squad of Paul Mounts, Simone Peruzzi, Morry Hollowell, and Frank D’Armata.
I’ve heard a lot about this comic, it being one of those ones people actively hate and mock. I expected a J.T. Krullian treat from this, a consumate eye-roller of grand guignol, intense shouting, gritty vein-strain and weeping, from nobodies in cycling shorts.
What I got was a perfectly average Wolverine comic with some interesting art? I mean, sure, there’s some character-harming backstory and mild hilarity regarding Wolverine and Sabretooth both being part of a race of evolved dog-guys called ‘Lupus Sapiens’, who have always fought throughout history, brunette versus blonde (really)? And for some reason Thornn and Feral (cat people) are involved with this offshoot of humanity, as well as Sasquatch (mystical beast from magic land)? And it’s part of the whole snoresville ‘Romulus’ storyline that Wolverine was embroiled in when this came out (2007?).
All that’s a load of shit, but fuck it, it’s easy to ignore. It’s no stupider than the kind of things that go on in superhero comics all the bloody time. Sadly, those details aren’t so glaringly awful that it makes this story in any way interesting to read. Loeb does a perfectly accurate take on the 90s X-comics he has a foot in, meaning there’s use of the extended X-family who I have ludicrous affection for, there’s a lot of redundant dialogue and captions, and the plot’s silly and convoluted.
I can deal with all that. Once upon a time, it was my bread and butter. I am skilled at wading through this shit.
So, you know, so far, so whatever. The art by that big load of people I mentioned above, most notably Simone Bianchi, is what makes this comic in any way interesting.
I’ve got a lot of time for Bianchi, which stems from his work on Grant Morrison’s Shining Knight series. Back then, his art felt genuinely different and fresh to my superhero eyes, and while there was some problem with the odd bit of storytelling, it had a great atmosphere of Fantasy Dread, and his soft inking and rounded, writhing figure work brought a Eurocomics ‘edge’ to the whole affair. It made the antagonists seem scary and ‘other’, the ‘normal’ modern world seem feverish and toxic.
Fucking hell, I loved that comic, me.
I’ve not really followed Bianchi too much since, though I’ve seen the odd pinup here and there. I kind of wish he’d left superhero comics after Shining Knight, as he seems kind of unsuited to the likes of the X-Men comics he’s worked on, and I think he deserves better, though maybe this says more about some sort of ‘shame’ I have regarding the genre I so often trawl.
He’s well-chosen for this comic, though, mainly as it concerns two hairy musclemen having homoerotic tussles THROUGHOUT TIIIIME, and he is GREAT at drawing brawny torsos. He actually draws nipples, can you believe?
Once again, there’s the odd storytelling glitch or over-worked page, and it does sometimes look rather muddy and hard to parse. There’s sometimes a Landian moment where a scene depicting the joy Sabretooth takes in hurting women hews a tad too close to Bianchi seeming to take joy in the joy Sabretooth takes in hurting women, but that’s certainly a debatable point. It’s interesting and different artwork, from a superhero comic perspective, though, in direct contrast to the script. The art’s exactly what this story needs to carry the reader through.
It’s not so good a comic that it’s going to blow your mind, and it’s not so bad that it’s going to make you laugh or spit. It’s a pretty stupid comic about a popular angry badger with seven dicks, which features strangely flat superheroic decadence in the form of crying and dismemberment, and there’s some pretty pictures from an unusual artist who I hope takes on more interesting stories in future.
It’s certainly more readable than all the Batman stuff Loeb’s done in the past, which people bring up when praising him, which was so relentlessly greycore and dull that I’ve been unable to finish any of it.
Quod sum eris.
The other standout moment concerns Scotch Religio-Werewolf, Wolfsbane AKA Rahne “pronounced ‘rain’, apparently” Sinclair.
Her Scottish dialect has always been hilariously abysmal and suspect, and this moment is arguably completely consistent with her character so I can’t really say it’s out of place, but, y’know…
That’s not even close to how we use ‘dinnae’, out here in Scotsy McJockland. I wanted to show it to everyone I know, and scream “THIS IS HOW THEY THINK WE TALK. WRITERS WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO DO RESEARCH AND HAVE INTERNET ACCESS. THIS IS HOW THEY THINK WE TAAAAALK”, then I wanted to watch that episode of the X-Men cartoon where they come to Aberdeen and it’s, like, ten houses and a bunch of guys in kilts with lasers.
They were right about the lasers, though. We all have them. But we don’t wear kilts, we wear sexy dresses.