|Cover by Daniel Acuña|
Fear Itself: Wolverine #1 (July 6, 2011)
Writer: Seth Peck
Penciller: Roland Boschi
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
After yesterday’s soul-searching and existential comics crisis, I was quite relieved and pleasantly surprised by today’s book. Wolverine is a character that I have been anxious to become more familiar with as he is so rampant in pop culture. Of course, I have also been dubious towards his characterization, as I know he can be portrayed as an inappropriate, sleazy jerk. And yet, I’m supposed to root for him.
But I know he’s an integral part of the Marvel Universe and comic book lore in general, so I decided to dip my toe into one of his single issues. Unless I have a feminist epiphany in the middle of the night or something and completely change my mind, I have to say that I enjoyed Fear Itself: Wolverine #1.
The storyline is, upon taking a step back, nothing terribly new. Rather, it’s a tried and true plot of a group of bad guys (this time, hired hands of S.T.R.I.K.E.) stealing a heavily armored warship and flying it over to New York to prove that they mean business. The only distinguishing element to these villains was the fact that they disagreed amongst themselves about their course of action. Some were not all gung-ho about proving their mettle to the Avengers and would have much preferred to collect their check from S.T.R.I.K.E. and call it a day. I always am relieved whenever I see dissension among villains; maybe I’m that much of a worrier.
Anyway, what sold me on this comic was the portrayal of Wolverine’s girlfriend, Melita Garner. All right, she’s just a girlfriend and as comic book fans, we know all too well just where girlfriends end up (usually in refrigerators). Furthermore, it is frustrating to be introduced a pretty dynamic and atypical female character and still know that she only exists because she’s someone’s girlfriend (victim, wife, conquest, the inauspicious titles go on). Can’t she exist on her own? Why must her narrative purpose be dependent upon a male character?
Look, I don’t know if we’ll ever get to a point where the male to female ratio of superheroes are evenly split. I know there are female characters who do just exist on their own and that’s awesome and there are plenty of instances of male characters being the “other half” of romantic relationships. Nonetheless, I was not surprised at all by the inclusion of a scene in which Melita informs Wolverine/Logan that she’s going along with him on a dangerous mission and he refuses and convinces her to do something else. I’ve read this scene hundreds of times over with hundreds of different couples; we all have. While Peck handled this clichéd moment in a pretty deft manner, it was still an example of mansplaining and I may have pulled something rolling my eyes so hard.
Didn’t I say I enjoyed this comic? What happened to that? Okay, onto the positive: aside from the inclusion of the I AM A MAN AND I KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU, LADY sequence, Peck infused Melita with clear goals, a profound sense of self and confidence in her career and skills as a journalist. I liked her a lot. She was very real to me and for once, I was reading a female character that I could relate to. Also, thank you so much, Boschi for having her not looking like a Lara Croft ripoff! I wonder if comic book creators are aware of how much female comic readers appreciate just seeing a woman in jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket. And what does that say about our own understandings of the presentation of women in comic books?
Overall, if Melita had not been in this issue or if Peck had done a lesser job with her voice and characterization, I probably would not have enjoyed this comic nearly as much as I did. Based on this solid inclusion of an integral female character, I now am actively interested in this Wolverine arc and am anxious to see where it goes.