Nihei Tsutomu/Marvel Comics Wolverine: Snikt!

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0 7638 29/2/2008
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You either hate Nihei or you love him. I happen to love him.

Unfortunately, even the most rabid Nihei-fan needs to acknowledge that the man is a one-trick pony. And while no one does post-apocalyptic cyberpunk dungeoncrawls quite like Nihei, Nihei's never done anything else. Even his most fans have gotten a little tired of waiting for him to "break out" from the Blame! game.

It should come as no surprise that Nihei writing Wolverine is simultaneously brilliant and insane... or that Nihei's Wolverine is little more than Killy with sideburns and claws.

As a Wolverine spin-off, it's as perplexingly unnecesary and out-of-character as it is amazing to look at. Nihei A4 size and in full-color is pure bliss. The action is kinetic, the cyborgs are scary, and the backstory is appropriately sprawling. Oddly enough, Wolverine, as iconic as he is, gets lost in the shuffle.

Wolverine floats in and out of Nihei's world like a ghost, displaying very little of his unique established personality in the process. Nihei isn't writing Wolverine: he's slapping a vaguely-Wolverine-styled generic hero into his own established universe. Not only is there no explanation for how the two world's connect, there's never a convincing reason for Wolverine himself to be needed in the other world at all. There are vague threads of justification (Nihei's vision is presented as our own Earth 100 years in the future and Wolverine's made of the only metal the baddies can't disolve instantly), but the whole thing never really meshes.

...It doesn't really matter.

It's mind-bendingly gorgeous. And sometimes, that's enough.

Those who are unfamiliar with seinen cyberpunk manga or with Nihei himself are likely to find the whole experience an exhilarating, otherworldly visual mind****. The rest of us are going to know that Nihei's played in this sandbox many times before and that this is one of the least inspiring corners.

Whatever you think: it's undeniably cool that someone over at Marvel liked Nihei's sandbox enough to demand Wolverine be thrown into it ~ however odd the outcome.

Seeing Nihei's work issue-sized and in color is reason enough to justify the price. Just don't expect it to make a lot of sense.

A few more minor gripes: I'm just a wee bit bit put-off by the conspicious lack of a translation credit. The translator is included under "special thanks" while Nihei comes off as fluent in English (which he most certainly is not). On that note: I'm fairly certain that Nihei, like most Japanese people, hasn't read an issue of X-men in his entire life, leading me to believe that nearly all of Wolverine's lines are ghostwritten by a MARVEL editor.
Keywords: Marvel Comics, Wolverine, X-men, super-hero
Illustrations and Layout Excellent
Entertainment Value Excellent
Replay Value Very Good
Plot Poor
Genre cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, super hero
Volumes issues 1-5 (complete)


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August 2007

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