Thursday, January 17, 2013

Savage Wolverine #1 - Jungle Loving Awesome

What is it about the untamed wild that gives some people huge boners? I know people who will wake up at four in the morning, put on loin cloths, grab a hunting knife, and run into the woods giggling like ten-year-old girl that just stole her older sister's tampon. They say it's liberating, being able to escape from civilization and enjoy a simpler existence. Then they have to take a shit and they run back to the nearest working toilet as fast as humanly possible. So while they'll rave on and on about the wonders of nature, when it comes to giving up the ability to shit in a toilet and not have to wipe their ass with dry leaves that's a deal-breaker.

I'll go on record as saying the hippies, the environmentalists, and Ted Kazinsky are full of shit. Civilization is awesome. I like sitting in an air-conditioned room eating food I didn't have to kill with a bow and arrow and shitting in a toilet. I would much rather saw my legs off and dive head-first into a pool of dog piss than go camping in the wilderness. And anybody who wants to bitch about how civilization has dehumanized us needs to either start shitting on trees or shut the fuck up.

That said, some people actually thrive in the wild. These are the kind of people who could be dropped bare ass naked in the middle of the African Serengeti and three weeks later, he's made every lion his personal bitch. You don't come across too many people like that these days, but in comics these guys aren't just more common. They embody that wild style of wild nature that gets us in touch with our own inner shit-throwing primate.

Of all the characters who would thrive in a jungle and treat it as a weekend in Vegas, Wolverine is the ultimate wild man. He doesn't just survive in the wild. He makes it his personal mission to make every single predator's balls shrivel off and make every potential prey shit themselves in terror. But lately, he hasn't been able to get in touch with his wild side. He's been too busy blowing the Avengers, screwing over the X-men in Avengers vs. X-men, and trying to fight the urge fuck a teenage Jean Grey. But as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, Marvel is attempting to get Wolverine back to his roots before he was the unofficial man-whore of comics. As part of a new series by Frank Cho, the Savage Wolverine promises to ditch the whole "I want to fuck the redhead" or "I want to gut Cyclops" plot and puts him back in his element. For a guy who already looks like he took a bath in Rogain every day since he was two years old, it's the perfect change of pace.

The tone is set in Savage Wolverine #1 with an all-too familiar scenario. Some dipshit, civilization-loving assholes think they can fly their fancy, high-tech gadgets into the Savage Land and not have something go horribly wrong. That’s like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day while working in a Chinese coal mine and expecting not to get lung cancer. In this case it’s a couple of SHIELD agents investigating an island with an insanely creepy mountain-sized sculpture. They’re tracking some mysterious energy that they’re hoping to investigate. They’ve also got Shanna the She-Devil with them, who is acting as a guide while also saving them the need to bring porn on the mission. But seriously, when has approaching an islands with a creepy face carved into a mountain ever led to anything other than disaster? For that reason, it’s hard to feel bad for the SHIELD agents when their aircraft starts going down. Maybe they just expect too much from dangerous islands that don’t have giant signs that tell them to stay the fuck away.

Enter our old friend Wolverine. Unlike the dipshit SHIELD agents who thought they could bang karma and get away with it, he wasn’t stupid enough to fly a high tech jet into the Savage Land and expect it not to crash. Instead, he just wakes up in the middle of the Savage Land without any memory of how he got there. He was either tricked or he went on one hell of a bender, or maybe a little of both.

But this apparently happens eight months after the SHIELD agents disappeared. There’s really no lead-in as to how he ended up here and maybe that’s for the better because it means Wolverine can get right to channeling his inner animal. That becomes somewhat necessary because he’s immediately attacked by Jurassic Park style raptors when he wakes up. In the Savage Land, that’s about as common as getting beat up in a mosh pit at a Metallica concert.

In addition to killer raptors, it’s also a guarantee that a visit to the Savage Land will also land you in the crosshairs of some hostile Neanderthal types with a lot of pent up aggression and no internet access to harass total strangers on message boards. But Wolverine decides to get proactive for once and hunts down a group that happens to be carrying one of the wounded SHIELD agents, most likely for human sacrifice or for a Hannibal Lecture style feast. Wolverine opts to not ask politely and proceeds with cutting them up like strips of bacon at a Five Guys. It’s brutal. It’s bloody. It’s violent. It’s just what you would expect from a book with the word “savage” in the title, no more no less. There’s some nice narration in here as well that helps make it a little less bland, but it really doesn’t add much to the scene.

After Wolverine completes his casual slaughter, he finds out from the dying SHIELD agent the location of their crashed ship. He gives the agent a proper burial so he doesn’t have to go through the indignity of being shit out by a T-Rex and then makes his way to the crashed ship where he finds a few various notes and a clear sign that these SHIELD agents were too incompetent to guards against an army of cavemen. But while he’s trying to figure out why SHIELD would want to visit a place where stepping in dinosaur shit is a real concern, he’s confronted by the one person who wasn’t stupid enough to get roughed up by cavemen and that person has an awesome rack.

It’s Shanna the She-Devil and she has to first stab Wolverine with a spear before she recognizes him. I’m guessing that’s not the worst thing a woman has ever done to him so it’s probably an easy thing to forget, especially when she’s wearing a loin-cloth bikini. I try not to take too much pleasure in Wolverine getting horribly wounded, but given what a massive douche he’s been since Avengers vs. X-men this scene still put a smile on my face.

Once the awkwardness of having stabbed Wolverine wears off, Shanna explains why a couple of SHIELD agents were stupid enough to visit the Savage Land. It’s actually exceedingly predictable, almost to the point where King Kong could probably sue. They suspected there was some ancient technology on the island and when they got to close, they encountered a disruption field that caused their ship to crash. After trying to be Bear Gylles for a while, they attempted to sail away only to get attacked by sea monsters. So it’s basically your standard vacation package to the Savage Land. Both SHIELD agents ended up captured, but they still suspected that there was some ancient technology in the mountain that they could use. They were planning to reach that technology with a very low-tech solution that involved blowing shit up.

It’s a story we’ve seen countless times before and parodied even more. A group of civilized people have their civilized gizmos fail them and they end up in a very uncivilized part of the world. Sometimes they end up being sacrificed or eaten. Sometimes they train monkeys to be butlers. Sometimes they make it into a porno. It’s a very basic and very clich├ęd plot. While it fits nicely with a Wolverine story, nobody with a handful of brain cells will find it too groundbreaking.

The premise may be basic, but it still involves blowing shit up so that means it has both the promise of explosions and more pictures of Shanna’s rack. So there’s still plenty of reason to follow this story. Wolverine and Shanna quickly work out a plan that involves finishing what the SHIELD agents started, minus the part where they got killed by cavemen. They intend to blow up the base of the mountain and use the ancient technology to call for help. However, this is still the Savage Land. That means there are a long list of creatures looking to maim them. That includes a hoard of Pterodactyls. Before they can even entertain thoughts of blowing shit up, they have to fight them off in another visually stunning yet predictable scene of jungle slaughter.

Part of that predictability involves Shanna demonstrating the toughness of a hardened jungle woman with PMS. She beats Wolverine to the punch in terms of recklessly attacking the Pterodactyl hoard. It forces Wolverine to shove her out of the downed aircraft, while probably copping a feel in the process (no straight man would blame him). Shanna doesn’t like this because it leaves them out in the open and vulnerable. And once again, a woman is shown to be right while the man is shown to be stupid because one of the Pterodactyl’s grabs Wolverine and flies him up high in the air before dropping him. Perhaps it’s another lesson for Wolverine in how to better deal with women, aside from boning them and hitting on the ones that are married. But again, it’s rather predictable. The comic ends with the prospect of him hitting the ground head first in a way that would turn most people into a blood stain on a T-Rex’s foot. But he’s Wolverine. You know he’s going to survive. So don’t expect to be biting your nails off wondering how this shit is going to play out.

I didn’t originally intend to do a review of Savage Wolverine when I first heard about it. Then after a few drinks and a few bong hits, it finally dawned on me. I said to myself, “You know what? This is just what Marvel comics needs! A book where Wolverine isn’t being a total dick cheese to Cyclops or playing the part of an Avengers groupie! Now where the fuck can I get more of this pot? It’s awesome!” After reading the first issue, I can say with or without a bong hit that this comic succeeded in delivering a welcome change-of-pace for Wolverine. But is it compelling enough to make a whole series out of? That’s something that’s difficult to answer even with a bong hit.

I enjoyed the issue. But Frank Cho really didn’t bring anything new to the table. The premise of the story has been overdone more than Joan Rivers’s face. Someone tries to explore the Savage Land, they crash land, and they get roughed up by a group of jungle savages that still shit in pots. That shit hasn’t just been done in Marvel comics before. This is shit that’s been done in every King Kong knock-off for decades. So if you’ve seen even some of those, including all the porn parodies, you won’t be surprised at all by what you see in this comic.

It was still awesome in that we get to see Wolverine going back to basics, surviving on his animal instincts and crossing paths with a hot jungle chick. The team-up between Wolverine and Shanna is definitely the most compelling aspect of this comic. It’s a team-up that makes perfect sense. She’s a tough, hard-nosed woman who is more at home in the jungle than Charlie Sheen at a Columbian whore house. Wolverine is an equally tough, ill-tempered brute who gets along better with angry animals trying to kill him than his own fellow X-men at times. Fuck, this is the perfect theme for either a porno or a new reality show on Bravo.

This first issue may have been basic and predictable, but it successfully established the conflict and set up the partnership between Wolverine and Shanna. Now it’s not yet clear if that partnership will include the exchange of a few bodily fluids down the line, but it is clear that there’s a story to be told here. Savage Wolverine #1 may not have a novel concept, but Frank Cho still makes it entertaining enough to be enjoyable. I give Savage Wolverine #1 a 3 out of 5. This comic didn’t change my opinion on camping or the whole back-to-the-wild bullshit that hippies love to whine about. Maybe I would find it more tenable if a beautiful woman like Shanna tagged along, but I know it would still go downhill the moment we ran out of toilet paper. So I’ll be leaving the survivalist shit to Wolverine and the idiots preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Nuff said!

1 comment:

  1. I have, in recent years, loathed Wolerine with a firey passion. However, I used to like him a lot, and the premise of this series seemed like the perfect place to get a good Wolverine story without all of the painful internal politics of the X-books, and I wasn't disappointed. It wasn't spectacular or anything, but it set up the mystery of the island quite nicely.

    However, the real selling point for me on this series was the inclusion of "Incredible Hercules"' Amadeus Cho, one of my favorite new characters in recent years (Most of the rest of my favorite new characters in recent years are on the chopping block over in "Avengers Murder-Por--", ah I mean "Avengers Arena" Thank God Amadeus avaoided that horrible fate).

    Imagine my disappointment when Amadeus didn't appear in the first issue. Frank Cho has said that his namesake will appear before the end of the first arc. Hopefully, that means "next issue".

    Keep up the reviews, they are always entertaining, some times moreso than the comics you review. (Hopefully, someday, you can forgive me for actually liking Hope Summers. That said, I've no interest in Cable and X-Force.)