Thursday, April 18, 2013

Savage Wolverine #4 - Too Savage To Be Awesome

Disclaimer: Yes, I know I didn't review Savage Wolverine #3. Yes, I know this disrupts the flow of reviews. But don't blame me. Blame God for not dedicating a day for reviewing comics. If you're going to bitch about this, please note that I'll respond by deleting your bitching in all forms. That is all.

We like to pretend that discovering ancient secrets is as awesome and exciting as Harrison Ford led us to believe in every Indiana Jones movie. We think it’s all exploring hidden temples, surviving ancient traps, and killing a few Nazis in the process. The reality is probably a billion times more boring. I imagine real archeology is like watching a couple of dead flies decompose in slow motion. You dig through piles upon piles of dirt, fine jack shit 99 percent of the time, and are lucky to recover artifacts that aren’t completely decomposed. It’s right up there with Snooki’s gynecologist in terms of jobs I don’t want.

Wolverine isn’t an archeologist, but he has a way of attracting shit that wants to kill him and sometimes that leads to discovering ancient secrets. It doesn’t lead to it very often, but for a guy as old as Wolverine the law of averages has to catch up at some point. And it caught up with him in a very painful way in the pages of Savage Wolverine. He’s been fighting along-side Shanna the She-Devil, trying to escape an unforgiving island of savage cavemen that may or may not be racist by uncovering ancient technology on an island. It has been eventful and entertaining so far, even with the somewhat random appearance of Amadeus Cho. And while there are no Nazis, I’m sure Indiana Jones would be right at home in a setting like this.

Part of the charm of Savage Wolverine has been a return to basics. Wolverine is no headmaster of a school or leader of a team here. He’s just the lovable savage brute we know and love, surviving in a dangerous wilderness full of dinosaurs, cavemen, and death. There’s no bullshit about his past, no ninjas, and no piss poor love triangles. Throw in Shanna’s rack and there’s very little reason not to enjoy this book on the surface, but it’s been dragging a bit lately with this whole ancient artifact bullshit. Frank Cho has been building towards some answers for the past few issues and is this the issue we finally get them? Well, I’m here to get drunk and review comics last I checked and since I’m currently low on booze, that leaves me with one option!

In Savage Wolverine #4 we get a nice glimpse into a ritual that for once doesn’t involve human sacrifice to appease goat-headed gods with a thing for the blood of virgins. Instead, it involves actually saving a life. In this case, that life belongs to Shanna the She-Devil. In the previous issue, her rack was not powerful enough to save her if you can believe that. She sustained an injury that…well, killed her. But if that at all worries you or your penis, take comfort in the knowledge that Marvel never kills hot female characters not named Jean Grey and keeps them dead for long. But do to that, Cho convinced the chief of the savages to save her in a ritual that involves Man-Thing. Or at least it looks like Man-Thing. Cho is as confused as the readers. And seeing as how Cho himself also randomly appeared in this story without an explanation, I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised when we don’t get one. Yet still, an explanation would be a damn good thing to have at some point.

For now, an explanation takes a back-seat to bringing Shanna back to life. Marvel knows that it just can’t let a beautiful woman with a great rack just go to waste. But in order to bring her back to life, she has to bath in some strange green liquid that comes gushing out of that thing that looks like Man-Thing. There’s a joke about the healing properties of semen in there somewhere, but given all the inappropriate comments I’ve made about Shanna’s breasts I think I’ll hold off.

The important part is the ritual works. It revives Shanna so that she’s as good as new and back to being exceedingly bonerific. However, the whole resurrection-by-glowing-water ordeal comes off as both bland and a blatant rip-off of the Lazarus Pit from Batman. Only this comes off as much more disconcerting because it involves shit that oozes from something that looks like Man-Thing. Hell, for all we know that green stuff is his semen and Shanna just got the most twisted bukakke in history. While it’s nice to see Marvel avoid killing another character, it comes off as both bland and unoriginal.

Things get even less creative as Cho keeps Shanna from lashing out at the savages who killed her. They also have a long and somewhat unnecessary conversation where Cho explains how she ended up alive again. He also reminds readers of why calculus class sucked ass in school because he spends some time just surmising the output of the ancient machine that’s supposed to be the central focus of this whole damn arc. We don’t learn much about it other than it powered the dampening field that knocked out the SHIELD aircrafts and has the power of three H-bombs. That’s about it. Cho didn’t have to reinforce another Asian stereotype to prove it, but he did anyways and it still doesn’t tell us jack shit about this alien gizmo. I bet Indiana Jones would have probably figured this shit out by now.

Unfortunately, Wolverine is no Indiana Jones. As such, he probably hasn’t figured out how powerful the ancient machine is or that Shanna is still alive again. All he knows is that he’s pissed off that someone killed another hot chick before he had a chance to bone her and having already been tormented by his failure to taste Jean Grey’s pussy, he’s not going to let this stand. So still armed with some explosives and an intent to blow up the machine, he makes his way to the temple. He meets some armed savages along the way who attempt to slow him down. But this is a Wolverine who is pissed off and cock-blocked. They might as well try to keep an army of stoners away from a pool filled with Twinkees and cookie dough.

The savages may know this on some level because after all their best warriors are dead, they keep trying to stop him by attacking him with giant killer gorillas. It’s exactly as awesome as it sounds. In a land that is basically a glorified Jurassic Park, why not throw a little King Kong into the mix? The savages somehow have tamed these giant apes and they don’t much care for cock-blocked Canadians so they rip into Wolverine. Because if a bunch of determined savages aren’t enough to stop a pissed off Wolverine who just saw a hot chick die, shouldn’t a bunch of oversized apes be able to succeed?

The short answer is no. The long answer is something that PETA supporters will probably be disgusted by because Wolverine does to the giant apes what he did to the savages. Hey, at least you can’t claim he treats humans and animals differently. He shows them the same sort of savage brutality. He’s all for equality in that respect.

But what makes this sort of brutality all the more enjoyable is just how detailed and drawn out it is. While this issue may not have provided many answers about the machine and blatantly ripped off Batman, it does continue a general theme of putting Wolverine in battles that just allow him to be his badass self. It’s the kind of bloody brawls he just doesn’t fight as often anymore because he’s too busy rubbing elbows with the Avengers or running a school named after a woman he never got to bone. That sort of action is one of the best selling points in Savage Wolverine and this issue maintained that at the expense of apes and savage cavemen.

Once Wolverine is done ripping through angry natives and gorillas, he’s pretty roughed up. We even get some nice internal monologue that helps detail what happens when you’re attacked by three angry gorillas (might be handy information if you’re planning a trip to the zoo with a drunk). But he moves forward, driven by the anger over Shanna dying before he could see her naked. He reaches the temple and the strange alien machine, which he intends to blow up. Shanna, having learned from Cho why that is a shitty idea, manages to reach him just in time to stab him in the stomach to prevent him from detonating the device. That’s right. Wolverine gets stabbed again and this time by a hot woman. I don’t know why, but something about that is extra satisfying.

It seems like all is well. Wolverine didn’t blow up the alien machine (which looks like a fancy box mind you) and Shanna lets him know she’s still alive. The stab wound I guess is just extra reinforcement. But it seems as though this should be the end of it. Then the Hulk appears. No really, that’s what happens. The Hulk just fucking appears. I had to wait to sober up a bit to make sure I wasn’t reading this issue after taking too many hits of LSD. But apparently, this is how the comic ends. The Hulk appears out of nowhere, just like Amadeus Cho did a couple issues ago. We don’t get an explanation. We don’t even get a clue. We just know the Hulk is here and shit is likely to be smashed in the next issue.

I’ll need more than a few bong hits to make sense of this comic. I’ll probably also need a few to try and ignore the blatant parallels between the Lazarus Pit in Batman and whole resurrection bit with Shanna and Man-Thing blood. Since I’m low on weed, I’ll still do my best to break it down and it comes back to there being too many fucking blanks to fill in. This issue had some entertaining (and violent) moments that PETA supporters will bitch about, but in terms of overall plot it is still akin to that stoner buddy of yours who lays passed out on your couch and refuses to watch anything other than reruns of Scooby Doo. It just won’t move forward and even when it does, it comes off as something we’ve already seen before in one too many Batman comics.

But beyond the Batman parallels, this issue just threw too much shit into the pot without letting it cook. And I’m not just talking about the Hulk’s appearance at the end either. Man-Thing (or something that looks just like it) showing up early on raises more than a few eyebrows and not much of an effort was made at giving an explanation. The same can be said for the machine, which Cho tries to break down with his science-babble. And if you flunked 11th grade physics, it’s probably not going to make this machine that’s at the center of the whole damn plot any less mysterious. We still have no fucking clue what this machine is. We know it’s what caused the SHIELD ship to crash, but beyond that why the fuck is it such a big deal if it doesn’t even melt the faces of Nazis?

Despite these flaws, this issue still retains some of the elements that helps make Savage Wolverine a solid book. It’s still Wolverine at his most basic, kicking ass in the jungle and getting roughed up in ways that would paralyze anyone else not named Chuck Norris. The battle against the natives and the giant apes was classic Wolverine-style brutality. It was well-crafted and the internal narration definitely added something extra special to the bloodshed. If you only read those portions of the comic, it’s still worthwhile. But in terms of the overall story, it’ll have you both scratching your head and rolling your eyes in ways no amount of bong hits will help.

Savage Wolverine may be one of the few X-books right now where Wolverine isn’t an insufferable douche-bag. It has a lot of appeal, but it has a lot of fucking holes in it as well. Aside from reading a Wolverine you don’t hate and Shanna’s rack, this issue didn’t add much to that appeal. Savage Wolverine #4 fell short in way too many ways to be awesome. I can only give it a 2.5 out of 5. I’m okay with leaving some things to the imagination. A peep show in Amsterdam or my parents wedding night come to mind as good examples. But that shit just doesn’t work for a comic. For this series to be awesome, some of those blanks need to start getting filled in. There’s just only so much power that Shanna’s breasts have. Nuff said!

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