Friends Matter in ‘Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1’

Granted, Wolverine can be a violent, cynical, beer-loving brute, but he can also be insightful and sincere.

Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1
Jim Zub
23 May 2018

In the same way there are some characters whose death will always stick to a significant degree, there are others for whom resurrection is pretty much assumed before the funeral concludes. In the same way Uncle Ben’s death has to stick for Spider-Man, the death of Wolverine can’t possibly stick for the X-men. No matter how his death occurs, be it callous, tragic, or heartfelt, he’s still one of the X-men’s most popular characters. Him remaining dead is about as likely as Marvel and Disney growing tired of money.

While Charles Soule did a commendable job making Wolverine’s death feel meaningful in Death of Wolverine, the X-men comics never try to function without him for too long, as evidenced by the continued presence of fill-in characters like Old Man Logan and Jimmy Hudson. The X-men need Wolverine just as much as Captain America needs his shield. He doesn’t have the luxury of staying dead for over a decade like Jean Grey. At a time when time travelers and alternate reality versions of other characters are running around, the time for Wolverine’s inevitable return has never been better.

To that end, it’s only fitting that Soule set the stage for Wolverine’s full return in the Hunt For Wolverine #1. However, that only acts as the beginning of a much larger story. Jim Zub and Thony Silas are set to build on that story with Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1. It’s not enough to just get Wolverine out of his grave so his healing factor can do the rest. Given his colorful history involving ninjas, clones, cyborgs, and living weapons, there are plenty of resources to work with.

Zub and Silas are targeted with those resources, specifically those involving Wolverine’s time in Madripoor as bartender/operative/eye-patch enthusiast, Patch. It’s a part of Wolverine’s history that isn’t as prominent as those involving adamantium bonding or blood feuds with Sabretooth, but it still reflects some important insights about the man and not just the claws. When he’s not a raging, snarling death dealer, he’s a man who has lived a more colorful life than most.

In that sense, it’s fitting that those hoping to track him down after learning of his return are X-men, are those with whom he’s had a close personal connection. The fact that those X-men all happen to be prominent female characters, as well, is a nice bonus and also revealing, in and of itself. It shows that when Wolverine isn’t lusting after married women or on the wrong end of a love triangle, he’s capable of forging close personal connections with women.

Kitty Pryde, Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Domino, and Jubilee are among the most prominent personal connections that Wolverine has forged over the years. They are a dream team, uniquely talented and motivated to find their friend and learn what happened to him. These are some of the most resourceful, resilient, and loyal friends that Logan has ever had. That he only got romantically involved with one of them, namely Storm, says a lot about his character.

This is a team that’s capable of tearing Madripoor apart, digging deep into Wolverine’s past to find out where he is. However, they don’t get many opportunities to do so and not just because Magneto is currently a prominent presence in Madripoor, as has been documented in X-men Blue. They’re still on the runway of the airport when they encounter who they think is Magneto and from there this team of prominent female X-men is only able to react to everything from that point forward.

That makes the sequence of events in Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1 somewhat predictable. Whenever the X-men, or any superhero team for that matter, are stuck reacting to a situation, it tends to limit the impact of the story. Whether it’s ninjas or killer robots attacking, or Hydra agents suddenly entering the picture, it follows a similar script. The team walks into a trap, the fighting begins, and the situation becomes even more dire.

That narrative in Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1 follows that script fairly closely, but that’s not to say there aren’t dramatic elements that add some complexity to the mix. Before that situation devolves, though, there are quiet moments among Wolverine’s closest friends. Storm, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, and Psylocke have an opportunity to remember and reflect why Wolverine matters so much to them.

Granted, he can be a violent, cynical, beer-loving brute, but he can also be insightful and sincere. Those reflections explain why they’re willing to risk a messy trip to Madripoor to help him. This makes Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1 feel less like a generic rescue mission and more like a team of loyal friends. Superheroes rescue people all the time. This, however, is personal and that’s an important theme throughout Hunt For Wolverine, as a whole.

Those quiet moments among the all-female cast make for some engaging insights that establish the emotional stakes. However, it doesn’t end up having much impact when the chaotic violence erupts, as is often expected in any story relating to both Wolverine and Madripoor. While the source of that chaotic violence also has a personal connection with Wolverine, there’s not much insight into the how or why they get involved. Even though Wolverine has a list of enemies longer than his list of friends, those enemies usually don’t attack just for the fun of it.

It still moves the plot forward and puts the cast of female X-men into a difficult spot. It’s not yet clear whether that spot will have any bearing on events unfolding in related Hunt for Wolverine titles, but the personal connections to Wolverine are still there and are on full display, at least for those trying to find him. Those connections just don’t do much to complement the chaos that they inevitably encounter along the way. They just walk into a trap, get caught by surprise, and try to manage from there.

There’s still plenty of room for more insights that further reveal the reach of Wolverine’s impact. For such a prominent character with such prominent friends, there’s more potential than most with respect to connections and conflict, especially in a place like Madripoor. Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1 does plenty to give Wolverine’s closest female allies a chance to show their strength while helping a friend. For someone who claims to be the best there is at what he does, though, there’s still room for improvement.

RATING 6 / 10