Another Spider-man / Wolverine story? Yawn. They've been teamed up so many times, there can't be much left to say, can there?
Nighttime in a snow-covered New York City—Spider-man is waiting in an alley for Wolverine, who’s changing out of his yellow costume and into street clothes. Spidey tells him to hurry up. Wolvie says he needs Spidey’s help with something, and figured he could count on him. First, Wolvie says they should duck into a nearby dive bar to grab a drink, that it beats sitting out in the cold. Spidey says he’ll feel like a jerk going inside in full costume, Wolvie tells him to take it off, that he won’t tell. Spidey says he’d be screwed if certain people knew who he really was. A bar patron asks if there’s a problem, Wolverine orders a bottle of Canadian whiskey and says his companion is just dressed as Spidey for a birthday party.
Spidey says that the guy was looking for a fight, that they came into the wrong bar. Wolvie says guys like him make it the “right bar in my book”. Wolvie begins to hammer the bottle, saying his healing factor will process it faster than it can get him drunk for long. A funny scene ensues where Wolvie is talking about Spidey’s problem is he always has to feel like the good guy—Wolvie is drunk and then complains of feeling hungover in mid-sentence. Wolvie makes a pass at the bar patron’s girl, the guy who accosted them when they came in, who’s name is Paulie. Spidey says he’ll handle it—Paulie puts on brass knuckles and swings at Spidey, who ducks, and the punch lands in Logan’s face. Logan strikes back, knocking Paulie out cold, and starts to scuffle with some of the other barflies. After dispatching several of the patrons, Wolvie sits back down to drink. Paulie mumble that Wolvie doesn’t know who he’s messing with, and is led out by his woman.
Spidey chides Wolvie for mixing heroics with grain alcohol, and asks again what they’re doing. Wolvie says they’re sitting there, and waiting. Wolvie relates a story about his WWII lieutenant, who decided he would never settle for a plain-jane wife, and waited for years for a knockout woman, turning down many other woman who came his way. When the time came, when he found his knockout, he fumbled with her not knowing what to do, and wished he’d let a few of the plain janes show him a thing or two. The point is, Wolvie says, if one is too picky in choosing among each fight that comes along, one may not be ready for the big ones that do.
Suddenly, the patron that Wolvie whipped, Paulie, comes back in toting a shotgun, which he proceeds to fire at Wolvie’s head. Spider-man sets upon him immediately—Paulie’s face goes white when he sees Wolvie with his head still intact, claws out, ready to rend him to pieces. Spidey grabs his wrists, holding him back and calming him down, saying “This isn’t one of the big ones.”
Wolvie says it’s 12:08 AM, that Spidey can go, and that his birthday is over. Spidey is incredulous that Wolvie dragged him out for that—Wolvie says he needed a drinking buddy. Spidey asks why did it have to be him—Wolvie says because Spidey expects better of him, and that Spidey’s a nice guy who’s dumb enough to think Wolvie is too, himself. Wolverine walks off alone on the snow-covered streets. Spidey goes back in the bar to apologize for the mess and offer to help clean up.
Normally, I don’t care for stories teaming up Spider-man and Wolverine (James Owsley’s Spider-man vs. Wolverine #1 being a superlative exception). Yes, their methods of operation are different, but it’s hard to have a story featuring both of them when Spider-man won’t let Wolverine kill. This short tale is another exception, I’m glad to report. Wolverine getting loaded (and then hungover immediately) on his birthday in a dive bar with Spider-man in tow makes for some good comedy, and shows off some interesting contrasts between the characters. Spidey is the nice guy who wants to diffuse any situation that gets out of hand; Wolverine wants to carry out any instigation to it’s bloody conclusion, but is also too much of a softie to want to drink alone on his birthday.
Zeb Wells’ tight script hits all the right notes. I just didn’t see it coming that Paulie would come back after Wolverine with a shotgun. As ever, Paolo Rivera’s artwork delivers in all the best ways, with his drunken Logan, looking very fearsome and wolf-like, ready to tear into Paulie. Rivera’s attention to detail is perfect, from the snow-covered cars in the street to the dank environment of the bar. From what I can tell Rivera colored his own artwork here too, and for lack of better words, it simply looks great. Spider-man comics would benefit greatly from having Rivera on full-time art duties, but as a triple-threat artist / inker / colorist, it can’t be a fast process for him.
This is a short story that says and does more about the contentious relationship between Spider-man and Wolverine then whole mini-series and whole issues have; in short, it’s a classic.