Review: Wolverine #1

Wolverine #1 cover
Cover by Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein

Wolverine #1
Published and © by Marvel, September 1982

Title: “I’m Wolverine”
Synopsis: In Japan, Wolverine finds girlfriend Mariko trapped in an arranged marriage – and battles her father, Lord Shingen.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Finisher: Joe Rubinstein

Review: This one was a game changer. There had been other miniseries – beginning with World of Krypton (see reviews) and Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions – but Wolverine is a different beast. Taking full advantage of the format’s narrative power, this limited series established the Bronze Age’s breakout character as a solo force. Writer Chris Claremont is in fine, hardboiled form here, serving up a tightly plotted, well-narrated gem. The art, by then-rising star Frank Miller, is up to the task, with masterful design and pacing. Out of the gate, it was clear this series was going to be special.

Grade: A

Second opinion: “The full immersion of Logan into Japanese culture – and the new interpretation of the character as a ‘failed samurai’ – does not occur until Wolverine, the Frank-Miller-illustrated miniseries published in 1982.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “We have startling and innovative layouts; and a fast-paced-yet-grateful narrative that strikes a fine balance between character, philosophy and action.” – Tom Joyner, Comic Informer #7, January-February 1983  … Included on the “40 Comic Books That Changed Our World” list by The Comics Buyer’s Guide #1673, January 2011. … “What is most striking about Claremont’s writing is the lack of it. … This story displays none of the distracting overwriting evident in X-Men … 4 out of 5 stars.” – Comics Coast to Coast #3, 1982 … “Buy it.” – Adrian P. Snowdon, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983 … “Chalk it up as one of the biggest disappointments of (Marvel’s) Twilight Years.” – Pierre Comtois, “Marvel Comics in the 1980s: An Issue By Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon,” 2014 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: Claremont. Miller. Wolverine. ’Nuff said.

Notable: First Wolverine solo series. (Seems quaint now, doesn’t it?) … First appearance of Yukio and Lord Shingen.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 2020 facsimile edition of this issue … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a 2024 facsimile edition.

Character quotable: “I’m the best there is at what I do.” – Wolverine, nothing if not consistent with his internal monologue

A word from the writer: “I told (Frank Miller) the idea that had been swirling about in my skull for some time – that the essence of Wolvie’s character was a ‘failed samurai.’ ” – Chris Claremont, on initial conversations for the Wolverine miniseries, from the introduction to the Wolverine trade paperback, January 1987

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Sequential Reaction (Vol. 1) on Jan. 20, 2016.

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