Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: Mark Texeira
So I would try and lay some groundwork for this issue, to help those who don’t know what’s going on have a better understanding, but I think it’s unnecessary. Hama does a good job giving a brief refresher course on where things are at in the overall arc. Besides, the brilliance of this issue is Wolverine in action, not Cyclops’ lacking leadership skills. There’s a touch of the supernatural, a bit of murder mystery, and a lot of Wolverine kicking Ruski butt.
Again, we see that even with the title, “Valley O’ Death”, Wolvie can’t escape the subtle biblical undertones of his adventures. Not only does he walk through the desert, but he’s guided by an angel. Granted the Angel is guiding him to an assassination, but still guiding him nonetheless.
This is really an issue I enjoy looking at. The powerful, creative layouts convey so much aggression and intensity, coupled with an epic sense of being. Hama’s writing is good, but Mark Texeira’s art just steals the show. In many of the panes, Wolverine just comes off as pure primal rage. No mildly cultured secret agent, no team leading X-Man, just a brute with a mission to kill and a set of claws to back him up. His body size and shape is inconsistent throughout the book, but it comes off as an intenional amplification his raw power, not a rookie art mistake.
There’s definitley more to this story than violence, in that we see a piece of Wolverine before he found Xavier(or before Xavier found him). We experience a man that can smell land mines, understands the intricacies of desert warfare, and can identify foreign military vehicles. He’s not just opening pop cans with his claws. It’s a fascinating side of his character, and one worth exploring.
In the end though, I come back to this issue over and over for it’s art. The 3D “SNIKT!” alone, gets me every time. We see Wolvie get run over by a tank, then there’s stillness, and suddenly two “SNIKT!”, one on either side of the vehicle, then a full page of Wolverine busting through the base metal into the cabin and wreaking havoc. Just classic stuff. Nobody takes out a russian tank like Wolverine does.
So pick it up if you can find, read it through but stay for the art.