Comics : Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1
This review was first published on: Sep 2010.
Jason Aaron, writer of DC/Vertigo’s “Scalped”, as well as various Marvel titles, teams up with superstar artist Adam Kubert to bring the indestructible mutant badass back together with the wise-cracking web slinger once again, in a six-issue limited series.
Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1
Jul 2010 : SM Title
Arc: Part 1 of "Another Fine Mess"
A narrator is talking about how he’s never noticed or studied the stars and constellations as much as he has until now. He tells himself he likes looking at the stars, because it calms him, but that that is a lie. He’s looking for something he knows is coming, that as a scientist he’s been privy to things that paleontologists would kill for—but that too bad he won’t live long enough to do anything about the things he’s learned. The narrator identifies himself as Peter Parker, the smartest man on the face of the Earth, and that come tomorrow he’ll be dead.
A bearded Peter Parker, half out of costume, crawls down to his primitive lair. He thinks there are so many unanswered questions still, like who the woman’s face is that comes to him often in his dreams, the face he’s made many wood carvings of. He thinks he’ll die without ever knowing who she is, die alone—well, not alone. He thinks he has to make his way into Wolverine’s valley, from where he’s been banned, to fill in Logan on their impending doom.
There’s a two-page battle scene as Wolverine’s tribe fights off an offending tribe from the north. He beats the tribe, and forces them to call him “Six Claws”. His tribe announces the arrival of the “spider-god”—Pete appears, hanging upside down from his webbing. He says Logan still hasn’t taken his advice about not altering the timeline of human history by ruling over the ‘ape-men’. “You’re not trying to teach them how to make beer, are you?” Pete asks. Logan says they’re not apes, that they’re his people now. He also tells Peter to go back to his little hole in the cliffs, that they’re never getting back to their own time and to make peace with that. Peter announces that they’re all about to die, that the extinction-level event that wiped out the dinosaurs is coming to their time in history. They go their separate ways, each of them thinking if they’d been stranded in the past with Reed Richards or Tony Stark, they’d be home already.
Spidey thinks back to how they ended up there. In modern-day New York, Spidey’s swinging around. Wolverine has a thug cornered in an alley—he tells the thug there’s nowhere left to run, that his kill spree ends now. The thug says he wasn’t running, but was told to lead Logan there, that he’ll be made famous for it, and that the person that sent him is at the bank next door. Then he says that there’s one left to kill—he pulls out a gun and uses it on himself.
There’s a bank heist going on, courtesy of the villain The Orb and his gang. One of his thugs comes out of the vault with a bag of glowing green diamonds. Spider-man web-kicks him, Wolverine slices the gun barrel of another thug—they both go bemoan the fact that the other is there at that time. As the strangely glowing diamonds hit the ground, Spider-man and Wolverine are transported to a jungle—Spidey thinks it’s the Savage Land at first, but Wolvie can smell that it’s not. Then they see a dinosaur off in the distance.
Back in the ‘present’ time of the opening of the story—Peter is preparing for the cataclysm by freeing all the strange massive bugs he was studying and burning down his makeshift house. He says he has to destroy all the evidence of his being there in time, but can’t bring himself to destroy the carvings of the mystery woman’s face. Wolverine frees the tribes-people that he captured from the north and sits to meditate, hoping the list of good deeds he’s done somehow outweighs the bad. The meteor draws closer.
Spidey snaps out of his funk and goes to the cave wall to furiously scribble out equations, thinking there has to be a way to survive, to harness the impact’s energy. Logan, meanwhile, tackles an intruder to his valley—a chameleonic person who keeps repeating that it’s not them that stranded Logan and Pete in time. Before the person can reveal who they work for, the impact happens.
Everything is white—Peter thinks he must be dead, that he’ll get to see Gwen again. He’s awakened by Logan standing over him (“there’s been a mistake—this can’t be heaven” he thinks). Wolverine says that Pete isn’t dead, but that he was right about something else: Wolvie altering the timeline by living with the ape-people. They are in a burned-out city in an indeterminate time period—Wolverine’s former tribe are fighting more intruders—and controlling Devil Dinosaur.
What a refreshing story. I can say there’s probably never been a tale with a time-tripping Spidey and Wolverine (feel free to enlighten me if I’m wrong). I didn’t have high hopes for this series—as stated, Spidey teaming up with Wolvie usually makes for a boring story, but this first issue delivers on a number of fronts.
First of all, Jason Aaron has a good command of the personalities of both characters. Spidey’s humor is genuinely witty and never annoying—the true test of whether a writer can write in Spider-man’s voice. This issue is full of mystery of how Spidey and Wolverine got to the prehistoric era, how they will get back, who planned to send them there in the first place, and who the mysterious person is that Wolvie tackled in his valley at the end.
I can tell there are going to be lots of nice little tidbits seeded throughout this story for readers who are paying attention (as Spidey was swinging through the city during the transition to modern-day New York, there was an ad on a city bus for “The Lost Statues of The Mesozoic Age!—mysterious carvings believed to be 65 million years old” on display at the natural history museum—the very same carvings of the woman’s face done by Pete in the past).
Adam Kubert’s art is dynamic as ever, whether drawing a modern-day bank robbery or a prehistoric battle, Kubert has the versatility to convey it all. His wrap-around cover this issue is gob-smacking. He and Aaron are a great match. The concept reminds me more than a bit of what the other Kubert brother, Andy, is working on over at DC, “The Return Of Bruce Wayne”—featuring Batman unmoored through time and history. I already can’t remember which came first—this series or that on--I'm almost thinking they both started at the same time.
Off to a great start—and it reads even better a second time. I’m actually excited for this series.