I've been a fan of Wolverine ever since I was but a wee nerd, spending my hard-earned 60 cents on The Uncanny X-Men issue #173. Comic prices may have gone up, times may have changed, but thankfully Wolvie is still "the best there is" at what he does…and what he does "ain't pretty." I remember getting all excited when Wolverine and the X-Men made an appearance on the cartoon Spidey and His Amazing Friends, but now we have movies with Wolverine! And Hugh Jackman is probably the best actor for Logan there could be (even though he's too tall). Yeah, Wolverine is a bad ass. But Wolverine: The Best There Is isn't. The best there is, that is.
Charlie Huston writes and Juan Jose Ryp illustrates this tale in which Logan is captured by a psychotic asshole named Contagion who is collecting super-types with survivability powers. As we all know, one of Logan's mutant powers is fast healing (case in point, remember when the Silver Samurai sliced through Wolvie's torso, only stopping because of his adamantium-fused spine? If you can remember this, respect, my fellow comic nerd). Contagion also has some obscure super-types helping him, like Madcap and Yi Yang (remember her? Yeah, neither did I. I think she only appeared in Marvel UK books around thirty years ago) and is trying to save his son who is horribly afflicted with some kind of sickness. Thus, Logan, with his exemplary regeneration powers, becomes the subject for Contagion's sadistic experiments.
Well, that's basically the start of it. It goes on, but who cares? I expected more from Charlie Huston, but this Wolverine story arc (twelve issues of it…geez) just wasn't very good. Logan had little personality beyond the stuff he's known for and he was generally ineffectual here. This is not the Wolvie I know. It seemed like Huston let Wolvie's agency in the story take a back seat to all the stupid supporting characters who no one cares about. Despite all the "action," it was boring.
Speaking of "action," this was the bloodiest, goriest Wolverine comic I have ever read. I know that Wolverine is a violent character and I'm not averse to gore when it has a purpose, but this was just ridiculous. This was like a horror show, like if Wolverine was in a Saw movie. There were times I wondered if I was reading a Wolvie comic or the super-gory Faust. Heads are decapitated, limbs are severed, guts are puked out, there is blood everywhere…but for some reason the profanity is replaced with "#######," as if letting a "fuck" or "shit" slip by is going to offend someone after seeing a blood soaked Wolverine impale Yi Yang with his claws (and she gets off on it!). It's just dumb.
While Ryp's art has a certain distinctive style, I don't think he's a good fit for Wolverine. I particularly hated the way he drew his face and could not maintain correct height proportions (yes, I am a nerd, but this is canon: Logan is 5'3" according to OHOTMU. In another title I may have enjoyed Ryp's art more, but for this title it just wasn't a good fit.
The verdict: ★★✩✩✩ (2/5 stars). Wolverine: The Best There Is is sadistic, ridiculous and boring. Just because Wolverine can recover from anything doesn't make torturing him fun to watch. But to make matters worse, Wolverine is pretty lame here and settles with being carried away with the plot rather than kicking the plot in its ass. I expected better from Charlie Huston, but maybe he's just not a comics guy. Ryp's art saves this from being a 1-star production. Even though I didn't care for it here, I can tell he's got some drawing chops. Wolverine: The Best There Is is not even close to the best. I'd pass.