by Dave Lapham
Pencils by Johnny Timmons, Dave Lapham, Kelly Goodine
Marvel, May 2008, $3.99
Garrett Martin: So what's more random and inexplicable: this comic's existence, or our reviewing it? Wolverine: The Amazing Immortal Man & Other Bloody Tales #1 just doesn't make sense, at least not in this incarnation. I can understand Marvel hiring acclaimed indie guy David Lapham to do some Wolverine stories, but why wouldn't they actually advertise that fact on the cover? They've been listing creator names on covers for a decade now, but then they don't do it when the creator's name is ostensibly a selling point? And, really, why run random Wolverine one-shots, anyway, when the dude's already got two regular on-going monthlies, including one that is solely and exclusively about random shit that happened in his past? Well, obviously, for the money, but do random one-shots really sell that well? Couldn't they at least have made this an annual, or something? And do I really care enough to ask this many questions, or am I just killing time at work by being so inquisitive right now? Damned if I know anything.
But yeah, this comic isn't so good. Wolverine does work better as the walking plot-point that everybody reacts to than as an actual character, and Lapham is wise to write him as such. Flashbacks to Wolverine's tragic and increasingly convoluted past got old before he even had a series that existed solely for that reason, though. And the only story in which Lapham tries to say anything interesting about violence, the character, and comics in general, the one with the bus-driver, is similar to the only issue of Lapham's Stray Bullets that I've ever read, but far goofier and less powerful. It just adds to the "been there, done that" pointlessness of the whole thing.
Hillary Brown: Yeah, I didn't hate every page, but I kind of hated a lot of them. I looked up Lapham post-reading and was genuinely surprised to find out he's more of an indie guy--albeit an indie guy who's recognized the need for cash. These three stories are progressively more incoherent. None really has any development or interesting characters or good art. I do wonder if he's watched The Warriors lately, though, what with the middle story dealing with the seedy urban environment and the last one with Coney Island. Clearly, Lapham is interested in carnivals, but, despite the fact that I am too, the stories really didn't click. They came off like poor Tales from the Crypt episodes that forgot to include the obligatory twist (I suppose you could make a case that the end of the last one is a twist, but it's more a screwball, a weak attempt at Whedonesque freak humanizing). If I didn't know Wolverine was cool and tragic and all that, these stories sure wouldn't convince me, and they don't make me want to read any more of Lapham's stuff. Nor is any of the art particularly interesting--the best it gets is inoffensive, and Lapham seems to be the most experienced of the three pencillers, from my brief and probably shoddy research. I agree. This one-shot could so easily not exist, and the world would not suffer for it.
GM: Like I said, I've only read the one issue of Stray Bullets, so I'm not too familiar with the guy. That comic also felt like it was building to a surprise ending, but the only surprise was how brutally Lapham killed off the little girl who was the protagonist. I get the feeling that's his forte--dark, brutally violent stories about how dark and brutally violent this world of ours is. That issue of Stray Bullets was better than this, but still pretty bad; it was just as shamelessly manipulative as something like Pay It Forward, but in the exact opposite direction. It was pretty much the most ridiculously depressing comic I've ever read, and not the type of thing I like to spend much time with.
But back to this Wolverine comic. I didn't think the first two stories were awful, just boring and unnecessary. That third story, though, is just embarrassingly bad, and makes absolutely no damn sense at all. It's like Lapham loved the visual of a guy being gradually sliced to pieces while fleeing, losing one body part after another, and then decided to make no attempt to explain how or why that could happen. Or, y'know, weirdness for weirdness's sake, which also pops up in the only other Lapham comic I've ever read, Young Liars #1. And as bad as that comic is, you at least get the feeling Lapham cares about it.
HB: Yeah, but at least the last story had some pinheads in it. The first one should have much more going for it: atmosphere, nostalgia, the creepiness of an old carnival, the drama of the exploited worker, the heartbreak of him losing his wife and child. And yet it fails utterly to capitalize on any of that, leaving the reader wondering things like, "is the thief narrating the story really seven years old?" and "huh?" The middle story at least has novelty and, coincidentally, contains the least Wolverine. Anyway, people shouldn't buy this.
GM: They shouldn't even download it.
If you want to form your own opinions, you can see a bit of a preview here, of the first story.