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Apr 27


Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel’s approach to the return of Wolverine could politely be described as confused.  They brought him back in the Marvel Legacy one-shot, and then dawdled around for ages trying to decide what to do with him.  Eventually, they decided that it wasn’t really him after all, and so they brought him back again in a sprawling collection of minis.  And after all that effort, the follow-up is… Wolverine: Infinity Watch, a miniseries tying in to a crossover that finished long ago.

And, technically, Hulkverines, a three-issue mini in which Wolverine and the Hulk meet Weapon H, the Hulk/Wolverine hybrid that debuted in Weapon X before spinning off into his own series.  This only barely qualifies as an X-book – I didn’t treat Weapon H as an X-book, since it promptly went its own way, so we’ve got here a one-third X-content.  But hey, close enough.

I may as well be upfront: to all intents and purposes this is an epilogue to the cancelled Weapon H solo title.  It’s written by Weapon H writer Greg Pak, and drawn by Ario Anindito, who drew a couple of issues of that series.  Wolverine doesn’t even show up until the final panel of issue #1.  The story is straightforward: the Leader wants to kill the Hulk, and figures that the best way to do that is to infect Weapon H with an anti-Hulk virus and use him as a lure.  Since these stories always work on mutual punchy-ness, Hulk and Wolverine both think Weapon H is some sort of bad guy, and Weapon H’s arch-enemy Dr Alba also shows up.  There’s a whole subplot in here about everyone being manipulated to fight each other by Roxxon which doesn’t actually come to anything, since it’s really just a device to bring everyone together.

On one level, like Weapon H, and Weapon X before it, this book is gleefully unrepentant nonsense.  It knows that the idea of a combined Hulk and Wolverine is ridiculous, and it knows that the idea of a three-way team-up book is even more ridiculous.  And it’s more than happy to just lean into that and camp it up to the nines.  The art plays all that fairly straight – or at least as straight as anything can, when the Hulk is involved – but has rather more fun with the makeshift alliance between the Leader and Dr Alba, which topples into ludicrously giddy teenage romance by the end.  That’s fabulously silly, and it works because both villains are so nonsensically one dimensional.

But, also like Weapon H and Weapon X, the book also balances all that with some sort of heart.   The clever thing about Weapon H, and what makes him more than just a novelty character, is that he does have a personality of his own, one that generally leads to him coming across as the sanest person in the room (with the possible exception of his wife).  In a book that wants to tell stories about lunatic villains, evil corporations and Weirdworld, Clay just wants to get back to his family… and, over the course of Weapon H, he actually does.  Despite his back story as a mercenary soldier, he’s not particularly someone with a horrendous past to atone for – he’s more of a disciplined professional, able to keep his head in the face of total insanity.  And that’s the hook that makes him more than just a hybrid – his powers may come  from two much better known characters, but his personality is completely unrelated to either of them.

Since Weapon H ended with Clay securely re-established with his family, that’s the central dynamic which drives this book.  He mainly just wants to get rid of these two A-listers so he can get back to family life.  And while Banner is a lonely figure taking the bus around small town America, and Logan is similarly cut off from normal society, Clay is a Hulk/Wolverine with a perfectly happy family set-up that, try as they might, the bad guys just can’t take from him.  That’s his thing – and hopefully, if other writers keep using him, we won’t see anyone resorting too readily to endangering the family.  He needs something to anchor him in the face of his ridiculous premise, and he has that, in being the level-headed family man Hulk.  He has all the motivation he needs simply in protecting that; he doesn’t need to have it taken away from him again.

Hulkverines is much better than you’re probably expecting, for much the same reasons that Weapon H was too.  It’s throwaway, but it’s also got a bit more heart to it than you might expect.  If you enjoyed Weapon H then you’ll want to buy this, because it’s more of the same.  If you haven’t read it… well, most of it’s on Marvel Unlimited by now.

Bring on the comments

  1. PersonofCon says:

    I’m not surprised this is better than it sounds on paper with Pak involved, but then again, it almost, almost had to be. Is there a Marvel comics title that lowers expectations faster than “Hulkverines?”

  2. JCG says:

    Phoenix Wolverine is up there too.

  3. Jpw says:

    I was going to say pretty much the same thing as Person of Con. It really feels like we’re at the point of nine-year-olds slamming their action figures together

  4. ASV says:

    In related news, they’re bringing back the Infinity Warps.

  5. Chief says:

    Longtime follower since the X-Axis days checking back in.

    I have no idea how anyone can still read Marvel’s output.

  6. Si says:

    It was inevitable they’d bring back the Infinity Warps. Which is a shame, because while the idea is brilliant, the actual stories weren’t very good and it’s a precedent that will be hard to change now. The best characters are the ones we barely see, like Little Monster.

  7. Si says:

    I hope there’s a Warp of The Watcher and Galactus though. The Diet. He has to watch what he eats.

  8. Jerry Ray says:

    The average quality across Marvel’s line has gone up a little bit recently, IMHO. Part of it is that the “diversity comics” movement seems to have settled down a little bit (e.g., America is cancelled). But part of it is also that they’ve got some good writers doing interesting things. Immortal Hulk is really good, and bizarre. West Coast Avengers was fun while it lasted. War of the Realms, to this point, has been better than expected (and Thor has been good for a while).

    Of the books that I read regularly, the books by Coates (Black Panther and Captain America) seem to be the weakest – he just doesn’t seem to have the hang of writing action comics in terms of pacing. I’m not loving Spencer on Spider-Man, either, but it’s OK.

  9. Ben says:

    I’m reading more Marvel now than in a long time, plenty of good stuff.

    Sadly it’s just not the main X-Books.

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