I read Jason Aaron’s run on 2010’s Wolverine series live as it was happening… and I did not like it at the time.
In fact, “did not like” isn’t really strong enough language to describe my reaction to Jason Aaron writing Wolverine. If I was ever going to consider burning some comic books, it would have been this run, which I considered to be offensively bad.
However, with the hindsight of where Jason Aaron took Wolverine after this run I can appreciate what he accomplished, and even enjoy some of the individual turns. Weirdly, if this omnibus ever came to pass, I’d be sorely tempted to buy it.
Wolverine by Jason Aaron, Vol. 2 is the #33 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus of 2017 on Tigereyes’s Secret Ballot. Visit the Marvel Masterworks Message Board to view the original posting of results by Tigereyes and collect all of these issue right now as detailed in my Guide to Wolverine.
Past Ranking: A 2017 debut!
Probable Contents: This would mirror a pair of Jason Aaron Complete Collections by collecting Wolverine (2010) #1-20, 5.1, & 300-304, plus Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1-6 and material from Wolverine: Road to Hell.
It should also add X-Men: Schism #1-5 and the digital-first series “Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted” co-written by Aaron with Jason Latour.
Creators: Written by Jason Aaron.
Wolverine series letters by Cory Petit. Wolverine #1-5, 10-14, & 20 pencils by Renato Guedes, inks by Oclair Albert and Jose Wilson Magalhães, and colors by Matt Wilson (with backups drawn by Jason Latour with colors by Rico Renzi). Wolverine #6-9 art by Daniel Acuña (with Jefte Palo colored by Nathan Fairbairn on #5.1). Wolverine #15-16 line art by Goran Sudžuka with color art by Matt Wilson. Wolverine #17-19 line art by Ron Garney with color art by Jason Keith. Wolverine #300-304 by multiple artists, including Ron Garney, Adam Kubert, and Steven Sanders.
Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine pencils by Adam Kubert, inks by Mark Morales and Dexter Vines, colors by Justin, and letters by Rob Steen. X-Men: Schism by multiple artists. Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted co-written by Jason Latour with line art by Paco Diaz, color art by Marte Gracia and Israel Silva, and letters by Cory Petit.
Can you read it right now? Yes! This run was very thoroughly collected in modern Premiere Hardcovers and trade paperbacks, all listed in the Guide to Wolverine – the simplest way to do it is to pick up Wolverine by Jason Aaron Complete Collections Volume 3 and Volume 4.
You can think of Jason’s Aaron’s time with Wolverine in three parts – Vicious Wolverine, Vengeful Wolverine, and Fatherly Wolverine.
Yeah, that last one wouldn’t work so well as a title as the first two.
The first Jason Aaron omnibus contains all of the Vicious Wolverine stories. These are super-bloody, knock-down drag out tales that – despite being forgettable – got Wolverine back to short-arc adventures after his ongoing got burdened with bigger stories and event tie-ins.
Fatherly Wolverine is entirely contained in Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron, which features a kinder, more-custodial version of our hero.
That leaves the most remarkable, marketable, and contentious portion of Aaron’s run uncollected in oversize format.
This Vengeful Wolverine period begins with the series that showed Aaron could do comedy, Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine. I was an avowed non-fan of Aaron’s run on Wolverine, so please trust my objectivity when I tell you I adored this totally hilarious comic and its credulity-stretching plot. Aaron writes the hell out of a quippy Spider-Man and plays Wolverine as the ultimate straight-man as the pair gets tossed through different times and realities into increasingly improbable situations.
It’s all drawn by Adam Kubert on his A-game and really deserves oversize treatment. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of another recent book where I’ve heard, “Wait, the HC isn’t oversize? Are you kidding?!” from fans so many times over.
From there, Aaron pivots hard on his Wolverine tales to begin building his signature Wolverine story which, in a way, begins an arc that continues through Logan’s death under the pen of Charles Soule in 2014.
It begins with Wolverine in hell. Or, at least, some aspects of his consciousness are in hell. Back in the real world, a demon is piloting his body as it comes to blows with Mystique, Yukio, Ghost Rider, and eventually the X-Men in the streets of San Francisco.
Supernatural adversaries are hit and miss with Wolverine – sometimes they’re a suitable challenge, but sometimes they seem like a laughably bad fit for his grounded character and slash-and-hack solo methods.
If you’re not the kind of reader who just rolls with whatever amount of suspension of disbelief you require, there are some moments of Aaron’s first arc of Wolverine in Hell that will come off a little goofy and may pull you out of the story entirely. Renato Guedes art is stunning and consistent – in my recollection it was all pencilled by Ron Garney, who drew a lot of the preceding Aaron run.
Things are on more solid ground in the second arc, as the possessed Wolverine squares off against an all-star list of X-Men teammates including Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto, Colossus, and Kitty Pryde. While we still get a lot of internal struggle here, there’s also a lot of satisfying X-Men action – so much so that this could have easily been an arc in a team title. Daniel Acuña’s subtle linework and sombre colors look magnificent, even if they aren’t a terrific match for the slam-bang action.
(If only cover artist Jae Lee could have been tempted to pencil some of the interiors!)
It’s the next sequence of issues that makes this run so contentious and requires an even bigger suspension of disbelief, even though they feature Wolverine doing what he does best – clawing his way to the bottom of the group responsible for his possession by a demon.
If you haven’t read these issues yet I won’t be the one to spoil them. Suffice to say, they take advantage of one of the major themes of Wolverine Origins and push it way overboard through a series of brutal confrontations. This arc conjures a retcon (or, really, a series of minor retcons) so far-fetched and coincidental that you’ll either say “Whoa!” or be too busy laughing at it to enjoy it at all.
This turn of events is the make-or-break moment of Aaron’s run with Wolverine. Either it works for you and you realize he’s crafted a magnificent arc not only across his own years on the character but also Wolverine’s entire modern history or you think it’s overblown hokum and Aaron’s further developments all come off as out-of-character nonsense.
If you accept the turn, you will fully buy into X-Men: Schism and likely appreciate Wolverine’s subsequent transformation into a lovable old curmudgeon who runs a school for gifted youth. Schism poses as an X-Men story, but it’s really Wolverine’s tale – part epilogue to Aaron’s game-changing arc, part prologue to Wolverine and The X-Men. This opens up Aaron to write a less tense, more emotive Wolverine, who is genuinely enjoyable in the more light-hearted finish to Aaron’s run on the solo title. It helps that he’s drawn by the wonderful Ron Garney and rotation of artists on the final arc.
If you reject the turn, Schism‘s central schism comes off out-of-character and altogether silly, not only ruining Wolverine’s subsequent about-face but also putting the foundation of the entirety of pre-AvX X-Men titles on shaky ground.
I speak from experience. I came back to reading comics in the first month of this omnibus’s issues and I hated Aaron’s take on Wolverine on first contact. Not just hated. Despised. Something about how Aaron wrote Wolverine made me seethe. I found his preceding stories to be pointless, his “in Hell” arc laughable, and his big twist to be one of the dumbest comic plots I’ve ever read.
Predictably, I hated every single panel of Schism, although once I accepted that Aaron’s ridiculousness was now canon for Wolverine I enjoyed the lighter back portion of his run.
With half a decade of hindsight, my opinion has slightly changed on this run.
While I still think Aaron’s crescendo was pretty stupid, now that I can look back and see the shape of the arc as part of Wolverine’s long history I really love the development Aaron took him through. It makes sense for a character of Wolverine’s age, status, and ubiquity to go through a maturation – especially after regaining his memories at the end of House of M. Even if I hate the plot points, Wolverine’s responses to them make him seem more real and human than most other stories in his history.
(Plus, Astonishing seems like less off a one-off lark and more of a prologue to the tone Aaron was driving towards.)
With that perspective, I find myself wishing Jason Aaron’s transformation of Wolverine wasn’t such a singular affair. With Daniel Way’s Origins series going off-the-rails in its final throes by all accounts (even from big fans like me), it seems like there was an opportunity to dovetail Aaron’s continuity-bending retcons with Way’s late-game meandering to improve both and make them seem like a more organic part of the overall story of Logan.
Instead, Way wrote a scenery-chewing Romulus and Aaron did what he did. Whether you like it or not, in the larger scope of Wolverine and his collected editions, this run is absolutely essential for omnibus format.
Will we see this omnibus in 2018? It might finally be the time for this one, especially with Aaron seemingly nearing the moment to wrap up his run on Thor and the possibility that original-flavor Logan might return after a rather lengthy four-year absence.
Why not? Despite this run’s significance and pedigree, Jason Aaron’s first Wolverine omnibus simply didn’t sell all that well or that quickly – in fact, you can still readily find it for half its cover price even though it’s several years out of print.
Would I recommend buying it? Um… yeah.
Like I said, it’s not a run I particularly appreciated. Even if you liked Wolverine by Jason Aaron, Vol. 1, this is a different affair – one big story rather than a series of arcs.
Who should buy it?
Anyone with Aaron’s Wolverine Vol. 1 and Wolverine & The X-Men absolutely ought to pick this up.
More than that, this book is great for any fan who wants a singular, done-in-one Wolverine saga would love this – and not too many of those exist for Wolverine! A lot of my objections to the volume don’t really hold for someone who reads this in isolation without reading all of Wolverine’s other series at the time.
The 2017 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot Results
- #60 – What If? Classic Omnibus, Vol. 1
- #59 – House of M Omnibus
- #58 – Captain Marvel by Peter David, Vol. 1
- #57 – X-Force by Kyle & Yost
- #56 – Namor, The Sub-Mariner, Vol. 1
- #55 – X-Force, Vol. 3 AKA Cable & X-Force, Vol. 1
- #54 – Conan The Barbarian, Vol. 1
- #53 – Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron
- #52 – Incredible Hercules by Pak & Van Lente
- #51 – Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Vol. 1
- #50 – Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, Vol. 1
- #49 – Captain America (Silver Age), Vol. 3
- #48 – Doctor Strange by Roger Stern
- #47 – Marvel Horror of the 1970s
- #46 – Killraven
- #45 – Captain America by Mark Gruenwald, Vol. 1
- #44 – Runways by Brian K. Vaughan
- #43 – Superior Spider-Man
- #42 – The Punisher by Rucka & Checchetto
- #41 – Black Panther by Christopher Priest, Vol. 1
- #40 – Avengers West Coast by Roy Thomas
- #39 – Amazing Spider-Man by JMS
- #38 – TIE:
- #37 – X-Factor by David & DeMatteis
- #36 – Generation X, Vol. 1
- #35 – The Micronauts, Vol. 1
- #34 – Alpha Flight, Vol. 2 AKA by Mantlo, Ross, & Lee
- #33 – TIE:
- Wolverine by Jason Aaron, Vol. 2
- Iron Man by Michelinie, Vol. 2