Marvel Universe Vs. Wolverine # 1
Script: Jonathan Maeberry
Pencils: Laurence Campbell
22 pages for $3.99
Marvel Universe Vs. Wolverine is essentially the story of a belligerent, myopic prick slashing at problems that can't be solved with violence, and occasionally whining at the people doing actual, viable work. Near as I can tell, this is the same affliction that Frank Castle had to deal with back when it was the Marvel Universe Vs. Punisher. It's certainly the same writer at the helm.
I was lukewarm on that book, but this rendition is fairly excruciating. I think the problem with MU Vs. Wolverine is the same thing that plagued MU Vs. Punisher...it wasn't any damn fun. I'm not sure there's anything inside this book that could be considered an actual color, which makes the vibrant cover a bit of false advertising, you ask me.
More importantly, the story just lies there, waiting for something to kick it. This is not an "in continuity" tale, why not go for broke? Why not push the accelerator through the floor boards, have some conversations you can't have in The Avengers because it would be "too edgy", why not have Wolverine pair up with some completely unexpected character that just happens to be immune and have fun with it? Imagine this - the world has gone completely ape shit, and now it's just Logan and Shatterstar (alien biology protects him) going underground, trading witty banter, engaging in copious stress-relieving sex. Wouldn't you read that book? I'd buy two copies, $3.99 be damned.
Instead, we get a childish, churlish Wolverine snapping off sophomoric and uninteresting barbs at real adults doing grown-up stuff to properly solve a medical problem. Hard to say for sure, but since Wolverine is the protagonist of the piece, I think we're meant to cheer for Logan and his dick waving. We're supposed to pound our chest and relate when Wolverine talks about Reed Richards doing "nerd stuff" instead of getting down and dirty on the streets.
You know, because epidemics are usually quelled by waiting for infected folks to show up and then stabbing them in the face with your adamantium claws. Take that, geeks, I'm making a difference out here! Oh, I almost forgot, Wolverine also takes Psylocke into.....well, we don't know where they are, but it's definitely underground, so that they can grab some "files". Does Maeberry introduce this mission, or give any indication about what those files contain or how they might apply to the "zombie" situation? Nah.
That whole scene exists for two reasons. The first purpose is to demonstrate that Wolverine is actually doin' stuff while stuffed shirts like Hank McCoy are busy twiddling their dongs and you know, trying to diagnose the problem and find a cure. The second purpose is to introduce the mystery flying character that eats Psylocke. Wolverine can't smell who it might be, though. So much for the man of action getting shit done on the streets, yo.
I could forgive any or all of that if the overall package contained some spark of energy, fun, or humor. (I call this a Millar exemption) But the closest we get to the book escaping Dour Tower is truly dreadful dreck like this:
The two-headed color commentators at the Phantom Menace pod race think that joke sucks.
I'm not sure if MU Vs. Wolverine constitutes a wasted opportunity or a thing that never should have been. The Punisher series went nowhere sales-wise, what was the impetus other than glutting for glut's sake? This could have and should have been a balls-out joyride of out-of-continuity mayhem. What we got was sour, colorless rat of a thing that fails all logic and most characterizations. Yechh.
This is a poster child frowning a warning to Marvel about publishing rationale. Needless to say it's warning that will go unheeded. The only thing the House of Ideas likes more than milking the diminishing returns of a past winner is not milking the non-returns of a real dog. I fully expect Marvel to tap Maeberry for a tortorous Marvel Universe Vs. Moon Knight as soon as Bendis is done with his turn to fail with the property. So....see y'all in about three months, right?