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"I see a beast that was once a man.",
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This review is from: Wolverine: Weapon X TPB (New Printing) (Graphic Novel Pb) (Paperback)Wolverine: Weapon X tells the story of how the unbreakable metal adamantium was grafted to Wolverine's skeleton while he was a part of the Weapon X programme and the events that ensued afterwards. This TPB collects issues #72 - 84 of Marvel Comics Presents.
A key theme throughout the comic is that of humanity and what defining qualities make someone human. Throughout the opening pages Wolverine is depicted as a very human character who articulates his feelings through speech and thought. After he is captured however he is depicted as a very beast-like figure, a "man with his subconscious stripped bare" as the Professor perfectly puts it. Caption boxes and speech bubbles are no longer populated by his thoughts and words, but instead that of the supporting characters, making the scientists appear more human than him. Now the only method Wolverine can articulate his feelings with is violence, his main feelings being that of intense rage and pain. Whether this form of expression makes Wolverine less of a human being than those subjecting him to tests is a key strength of this comic and forces you to consider when violence towards others can be justified, if at all.
The theme of fate being foretold as part of a prophecy is also conveyed within the artwork of the opening pages. Before Wolverine is captured and becomes a test subject he experiences nightmares of the Weapon X experiments which manifest themselves as images which gradually appear within the panels, slowly engulfing more of the page symbolising that his fate is getting closer. Similarly the repetition of the phrase; "storm's comin'" signify the coming of an intense torrent of pain to be inflicted on Wolverine, or perhaps his victims. Wolverine has nightmares of the Weapon X project not as something that has happened, but as something that will happen; hence the idea of a prophecy being foretold, an event that is destined to happen. Ironically the hotel that Wolverine stays at is called "Prophecy." These undertones of humanity and fate make Wolverine: Weapon X more than just an average comic book, but rather a piece of work that stimulates thought process well after you've finished reading.
The comic's artwork combined with the text on page complement each very well and succeeds in augmenting the atmosphere each scene is attempting to present. A prime example of how text and artwork couples to convey a particular atmosphere is shown by a number of panels that simply feature Wolverine floating in what appears to be a tank of fluid connected to an assortment of wires and tubes. No sense of space or boundaries is given in these panels which help to convey the sense of the unknown. Colour coded caption boxes show that various characters are talking but it is only until later, when Wolverine begins to regain consciousness, that these characters are revealed to the reader. The resultant effect is that the reader is transported into the shoes of Wolverine, not knowing where he is, who is speaking or what is happening to him. Furthermore text becomes short and snappy in scenes of intense panic which helps to portray a sense of increased pace. The font also becomes much larger when characters yell or cry out. These may seem like obvious details to include in a comic but it goes a long way in presenting a believable atmosphere, whether it is a sense of mystery, panic or calm.
The artwork features an incredible amount of detail; however it never becomes overwhelming or obscures what is happening on the page. Instead attention to detail serves the purpose of showing the horrific nature of the experiments, the vast assortment of wires and machinery connected to Wolverine's body and the grotesque nature in which Wolverine's claws puncture his flesh as they protrude from his wrists.
Text and artwork reveal subtle clues about characters intentions, their backstories and how they feel about the Weapon X project. The result of this is a supporting cast of characters that are very well crafted, each harbouring their own feelings about the Weapon X project. The story is as much about these characters experiences as it is about Wolverine's. Supporting characters include; the Professor, who spearheads the Weapon X project with a sadistic passion; Doctor Cornelius, a scientist concerned over the Professor's fervent ambition to control Wolverine's destiny; and Carol Hines, a technician who refuses to believe that Wolverine's humanity has been entirely stripped away. Each characters reactions to the project are all very different and very genuine, particularly Doctor Cornelius'.
In closing, Wolverine: Weapon X is a story that sees Wolverine subjected to an unimaginable amount of pain and anguish that horrifically scars and ultimately comes to define his character. However this is not simply a story about how the Weapon X project affected Wolverine but also how it affected the numerous supporting characters that were involved in the project. Wolverine: Weapon X is a well-crafted comic that never depicts detail for the sake of adding detail, but rather detail that serves an illustrative purpose. Text and artwork also work together in conjunction to convey a sense of atmosphere and add depth to the supporting characters. Wolverine: Weapon X is a story that deals heavily with the themes of humanity and destiny. What defining quality determines who is human? The ability of speech? Our intellect? Drive and ambition? A sense of compassion? Is it possible to lose one's humanity or simply lose sight of it? Is our destiny predetermined by other people or a higher power or is it entirely within our own hands?
The way in which Wolverine: Weapon X explores these questions, and the excellence of its use of artwork coupled with text makes it without a doubt the greatest Wolverine comic ever produced.