There are so many Wolverine mini-series these days — in addition to his main titles and spinoffs — that I tend to just miss them as fluff out of hand. I’ve read my fair share of unnecessary Logan stories already, so the character alone isn’t enough to sell me on any of his titles at this point. A couple weeks ago I stumbled across one of these minis in the discount bin but one credit on the cover caught my eye: Jason Aaron. The book was Wolverine: Manifest Destiny and — not to ruin the end of the review — it was amazing.
Jason Aaron is something of a comic book mash-up artist, taking what he loves from other media and incorporating it into his comics. Ghost Rider was heavily influenced by the Satansploitation grindhouse flicks, Scalped draws from The Departed, and Manifest Destiny is Wolverine meets The Last Dragon. Set just after he regains his memories and the X-Men move to San Francisco, we find Logan remembering an old wrong and returning to Chinatown to correct the problem he caused after killing the local warlord and not stepping up to fill in the power vacuum.
“Wolverine in Chinatown” probably would have been enough of an elevator pitch to make the book good, but Aaron really sells it. He throws in new gangs, any one of which you’d want to read a mini-series about, new villains (ever want to see Wolverine get punched in the soul?), and a villain whose motivation and connection to Logan make perfect sense.
I wouldn’t do this book justice if I didn’t heap some praise on artist Stephen Segovia as well. It’s rare that I’m surprised by an artist I’m reading for the first time, because I prefer to think I’ve already heard of any penciller in comics already putting out great work. However, Segovia knocked me out with his Leneil Yu-inspired draftsmanship and Simone Bianchi-style panel layouts. Especially with panel design, overly-creative attempts can easily become disruptive, but here they contribute to the style of the artwork while still making the flow of reading easy.
To some extent we’ve everything in this mini before: an ex-girlfriend, a mysterious past, a new direction for our hero. But if you take out all of the bad stories we’ve read with those elements, with Manifest Destiny it’s like reading it all for the first time.
My only real quibble with this book comes on the very last page. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just Aaron setting the stage for more stories in Chinatown. My concern is I’m afraid we won’t get to see what happens next. With a Wolverine title this good, it would be a shame for this stand-out to stay buried with the other minis in your comic shop’s discount bins.
Oh, and just because I’m me:
Cover Price – $11.96
My Price – $6.35