I’m back with the Wolverine month I’ve said existed, but no one has acknowledged except me. (Truth be told, every month is Wolverine month in my heart.) I frequent Half-Price Books, which is great for finding weird and rare stuff at affordable prices. I happened upon Wolverine: Inner Fury. As far as I can tell, the Wolverine ongoing series did not have annuals (oversized issues released once a year in addition to the regular issues), but rather a Wolverine graphic novel was released every year. One of those was the Jungle Adventure, which I wrote about here. These were chances for different writers and artist to work on a Wolverine story when they might not normally.
This one-shot is written by D.G. Chinchester. I’ve never heard of this guy, a quick Google turned up that he wrote Daredevil after Ann Nocenti. Based on this, that seems like a good fit. There’s some cool stuff in here.
The artist, however, I have heard of. He’s the main reason I wanted to read this. Bill Sienkiewicz (not said like it’s spelled). He’s one of the best stylists in the industry. His art varies in both medium and style to fit the story. In gritty superhero stuff like this, it’s a sketchy violent style where the concept of what he’s showing seems more real than what he’s actually drawing. The man’s a monster. Just, dude, if you haven’t seen his stuff, Google it right now.
Anyway, the book itself starts out in a Hydra lab with an experiment in nanomachines being supervised by a deformed little man dangling from the ceiling with a nutrient tank around his head. His body is of no use, I don’t know whether or not his limbs even work, but he’s there, suspended. The scientists and lackeys around him call him “The Whale” even as he thinks of himself as a “Shark.” I should point out this is because his nose looks like a fin.
A scientist points out that some of the inventory has gone missing.
Before I go into the next scene, I want to talk about the design for the Hydra agents. They’re these black…things, seeming incorporeal in some panels, blending in with the shadows and on others they seem robot and super solid. It’s neither here nor there, it just looks cool.
Okay, so back to the action. So it turns out they’re not really in a lab. They’re being transported inside of a truck. The “lab” seemed cramped and the panels boxed us and the characters in. This is why. The Whale sets off the nanomachines and causes the truck to crash. Two Hydra agents, the leaders of this project overlook the crash. One is a man who berates his partner, unseen, but their shadow/silhouette is in the shape of a full-figured woman. The shadowed leader shoots the man as he says he’s going to pin the failure all on them.
Cut to Chicago, covered in one of our famous snowstorms. Wolverine is here, as he puts it, for his own murder. S.H.I.E.L.D. let him know about a communique that had been dropped off with his name on it. Both he and Nick Fury knew it was a trap, but Logan says that whoever wants to lead him on is the one that’s really trapped. Knowing Wolverine, the reader is inclined to agree.
So he goes to Chicago and he’s attacked by some generic bad dudes.They have face masks similar to the ones the Hydra people wore, but that might just be because Sienkiewicz was in the mood to design a particular thing. One of them gets a pretty solid hit into Logan, but after healing, he makes quick work of them. Then steps out a short man with a pointy nose and an enormous flowy head of hair, another one, who calls himself “Big”. Big is a bounty hunter, who was hired to kill the guys Logan just did. He offers Logan a cut, but Logan just heads off to a bar.
Needing to unwind, he’s a couple beers in and chatting up a PYT. She says she doesn’t usually like older men as they tend to be more…domesticated.
That’s what she says.
Anyway, Logan, despite being literally older than this lady’s grandmother, takes offense to this and asks why she thinks he’s old. She points out his grey hairs. Logan doesn’t remember having any, so she strokes it to prove it to him. But when she touches it, she bleeds. Big then walks in and suggests Logan stop *ahem* fraternizing as she could get hurt more as his condition worsens. Logan angrily asks Big what he means.
The stout man refers to Logan’s hair follicles and fingernails, of which the Adamantium in Logan’s body seems to be getting out. This is interesting because it this is, as far as I know, the first time the “Logan gets Adamantium removed” plot beat happens. It more famously appears in the “Fatal Attractions” X-Men storyline, in which Logan’s claws are revealed to grow from bone and part of his mutation.
Big tells Logan about the nanomachines and how they’ve ruined the lives of his clients. The machines have hacked Wolverine’s healing factor (which is portrayed in the book, but not here as cartoon white blood cells with eyes) is rejecting the Adamantium from his body, registering it as a harmful substance. As his condition visibly worsens, he convinces Logan to join forces and take down The Shark.
They go to fight some dudes who they think know the Whale/Shark’s location. He has to watch himself in the scrap, something he’s not used to. Usually, his healing factor patches him up as they go, but now his healing factor is working overtime to expel the Adamantium.
A guy comes from behind and is going to shank Logan, but he grows Adamantium spines out of his back like a deadly Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s kinda great. The people are defeated and Logan and Big head off to find another lead. AND BOY, do they head off in style. Big has a personal hovercraft. It fits two people, but it’s clearly made for just him.It’s this tall thing vaguely shaped like the capital letter “I” with a big bulbous light on the top of the front, where Big peeks his head out of. And it’s got a mechanical arm on the side and Logan has to kind of squat inside and it’s great.
They keep looking and eventually crash in a hotel room, where the full extent of what is happening to Logan becomes clear. He’s sprawled out on the couch, Adamantium sticking out from every opening in his body. He still manages to fall asleep on the couch and dreams a terrible and violent dream.
He’s on a ship and they’re hunting the Shark/Whale/Metaphor. It’s Moby Dick. It’s just straight up Moby Dick. Wolverine to the Ahab, The Whale to the…Whale. Yeah. The Whale/Whale attack the ship, only Logan, never having seen him, assumes he’s this giant hulking monster who fights him, but his Adamantium betrays him during the duel and before the Whale/Whale can kill him, he chides Logan for not sticking to Melville’s metaphor. I’m loving that these “not annuals” are basically just the villains critiquing media. At least in my head they are.
They arrive at The Whale/Shark’s base and fight their way inside. At this point, Logan is Edward Scissorhands’ final Pokemon evolution. The Shark/Whale is inside and Logan doesn’t quite believe it. He threatens The suspended scientist, but he doesn’t have a cure and is terrified by Big.
The silhouette is revealed as Big on his hovercraft. It was his magnificent hair, the lights on his device providing the outline of the uh..bulbs. Turns out that Big was the Hydra leader after his stolen tech.Which then makes the deformed man the Shark/Whale/Patsy. The Shark/Whale was after his freedom, both from Hydra and to experiment in public. He needed Logan’s help to track the defector down, so using the nanomachines that The Whale/Shark was told were missing earlier to infect Logan, giving him motivation.
Logan tries to fight Big, but he’s pretty easily beaten down again and again. Big breaks open the Whale’s tank and he falls to the floor. Some wiring is broken and with a spark, a fire begins to spread in the lab. After taking care of his target, Big comes at Logan with a chainsaw that was just lying around I guess.
Logan realizes the one way to shock his body into resetting is to kill himself. So he puts his claws up to the bottom of his head and pops them. I’m not sure if it’s just because of the shock or because the machines were there. I don’t know. But it works and he makes *ahem* short work of Big. Wolverine throws the Shark/Whale/Fish into a bucket and carries him as he retreats into the snowy woods, the lab going up in a blaze behind him.
I wish I had a scanner so I could show you guys this stuff. It’s top-notch work and one of the most visually interesting books I’ve read in a long while. I spent at least double the amount of time I usually do reading to look over the art. HIGHEST possible recommendation for the art. The writing is fine and I enjoyed the dream sequence, but I bought this for Sienkiewicz’s art and I was proven even more right than I initially thought.