Wolverine’s been sent down to hell, and something else has been sent back up to Earth in his place. It’s the start of a horrific new saga for Logan – if only there was an appropriate Johnny Cash song to play. It’s Wolverine Goes to Hell #1!
We start at the First Kestrel Baptist Church, an unexpectedly badass name for a church – but then again, it’s being run by John Wraith, former member of the Weapon X program, so I suppose that’s to be taken for granted. Wraith is a teleporter, and you might recognise him from his more well-known side-gig as the leader of the Black Eyed Peas. He was always one of the nicer members of the team, so it does make sense for him to settle down and eventually become a preacher. He’s chatting with Wolverine about the nature of Hell, because Wolverine’s the sort of conversationalist who always brings things down.
He says that the first Hell is the literal hell, with the devil and all that kicking about – more on that later, but thanks for thematically linking us to the title of the storyline, John – but the second Hell is a psychological one which people make for themselves. Wolverine, especially, who isn’t in the best mental place at this particular moment in time. Wraith points on this especially, saying “we’re killers, Logan. That’s what we’ll always be”.
Keeping the pep talk going, he also tells Logan that he’s never going to overcome the tragedy in his past – it’s the act of trying to overcome it which marks a man, though. The Pastor, who it should be mentioned has his eyes covered in these awesome gold shades for this whole conversation, uses himself as an example. He says he used to be a ‘wraith’, but now he has his feet on solid ground. I think this might be a subtle way of saying that he lost his mutant powers during M-Day.
Wolverine says that he’s a lot more grounded too, but he feels like the feeling of security is actually worse than the feeling of being hunted. Wraith, closing what turns out to be his last ever conversation with Wolverine, asks if perhaps Logan is more scared of being rewarded than he is of being punished. Which certainly would explain why he married Viper that one time.
In the modern day, the Pastor is giving a sermon which probably has some kind of symbolic resonance for the rest of the story. One of the big beats of Jason Aaron’s run on Wolverine is that Logan rediscovers religion somewhat across the course of it, so every time you see a Bible quote you know that it’s meant to mean something for Logan as a character, as well as being a chunk of text which 60% of readers immediately gloss over. Me being one of them, sorry!
Someone runs in just as Wraith is wondering “where is Wolverine this week?” and says somebody has been attacking people. She can’t explain what it was, but Wraith sees three claw marks on her arm and immediately realises what’s going on. He tells them to lock the doors of the church and he heads outside. He’s got a massive stockpile of guns in a little building next to the church – but more than that, it turns out he’s actually set mines down in the forest surrounding them. What if kids went playing in there? Or a deer stepped on one?
Whatever it is coming for Wraith – and we can all agree it’s Wolverine – they aren’t worried about stepping on mines, which is a bit troubling. Wraith runs into the woods with his single machine gun anyway, and Aaron does a brilliant job of making you care about what happens to the character. In his narration Wraith is saying “I don’t try and reach out to Wolverine, I just go after him” which is 100% the correct way to approach this situation. Shoot him first, ask him questions when he wakes up, Pastor.
An unseen force throws the Pastor to the ground, though, and pins his arms to the ground via, I think, telekinesis. The attacker shows himself under a hood, with just his big red glowing eyes shining out from the shadow. What if it’s Christopher Lloyd in Roger Rabbit, back and after the toons again? That’d be really scary actually. I still get shudders when I think about him murdering that cartoon shoe in a barrel of ‘dip’. Ughghghgh.
While the Pastor is pinned to the ground, a swarm of bugs and insects slowly start crawling over him, and I think down his throat too. Gross. He starts reciting “Valley in the Shadow of Death” – dude, just keep your mouth shut if you’ve got bugs crawling over your face, haven’t you ever seen I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here?
The attacker walks off and to the church, where he voms on the front steps. The vomit is bright green and flammable, and soon enough the whole church is starting to burn down. Jason Aaron doesn’t mess around with this stuff, does he? Wraith runs out, flinging snakes with every step, and leaps onto the attacker. That’s when we first see those five little letters. “Snikt”.
Wraith is gutted, and the attacker finally starts talking in yellow and red speech bubbles. He throws off his hood to reveal that, shocker, he’s Wolverine. The Pastor sees something more in the eyes, though – he sees “hell”. And I think that’s the last we’ll ever see of John Wraith, guys. He seems pretty two thousand and late to me.
At the San Francisco Post, Wolverine’s girlfriend Melita Garner is finishing up a story for her boss. She’s a reporter, which is the go-to occupation for boyfriends and girlfriends in superhero universes nowadays. I guess it’s because comics are written by, y’know, writers, and writers tend to think there’s no more noble occupation than, y’know… writing.
The elevator pings and a security guard flies out, a shiny red blade thing in his head. Five of the most random looking supervillains step out, clearly hunting Melita down for some reason. They look…. Well, they look terrible. One has a lucha mask and a chainsaw on his wrist, another one is a cowboy whose gun is actually a knife. One is a big dude with a sack on his head, one is a woman wearing… uh. It’s hard to describe, actually. It’s a hat with two maces hanging down over the top? The last one is a woman who is frankly a total ripoff of The Leper Queen. It all looks very much like a bunch of Mark Millar reject characters.
We have a flashback to Wolverine and Melita in their bedroom, as Wolverine hands over a bunch of weapons for her to use in self-defence, should it ever be necessary. It includes a phone he stole from SWORD and a magic thing he won off Dr Strange in a game of poker, so Melita is obviously thrilled by this bounty of stuff she’ll never be able to get working. One of the items is a skrull gun though, which is simple enough, and sure enough she uses it on one of these goons before running off. The others give chase.
Which is when a friggin’ motorbike explodes out the other wall and smashes straight into mace girl. Mace girl somehow manages to make one of the maces smack the driver in the head, smashing the helmet, which raises all kinds of questions which maybe we don’t ever want answering. The motorcyclist takes the helmet off, and guess what? It’s Mystique. AWESOME! Mystique is the actual best. Melita gets on the motorbike and they cycle back out the window, drop a few stories, and head off down the road. Mystique can do anything.
The leader of the goons calls in to his higher command to tell them they lost Melita. Higher command, in this case, being a bunch of civilians, led by some old dude. One of them seems to be a trucker. It’s weird, but they’ve got a list of targets they’re going to go after alongside Melita – X-23, Daken, Yukio, Silver Samurai, Cyclops, Jubilee, Amiko, Tyger Tyger and Wraith. Oh! Maverick and Rogue too, just saw them. Seems like a bit of a slap in the face to Kitty and Storm, but maybe they’re dead of something right now.
Melita and Mystique have an argument whilst on the motorbike, which seems audibly possible. Melita says she knows exactly who Mystique is, which you can tell Mystique takes as a huge compliment. She’s practically beaming. Melita asks “where the hell is Logan?” and Mystique is all like “well, long answer…”
Because Wolverine is in Hell. Not the psychological one. The actual one, demons and all.
He’s being mocked by someone, who is saying they’re going to do some incredibly horrible things to him – although nothing that can’t be put in a Disney-owned publication, of course. It looks like this is the Devil, and he’s planning to personally take an investment in Logan’s future.
Which is where he is right now.
The Last Stand of the Silver Samurai
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jason Latour
Colours: Rico Renzi
Letters: Cory Petit
Each issue of ‘Wolverine Goes to Hell’ has a backup story, with each one showing somebody going after one of Wolverine’s friends or allies. The first is Silver Samurai.
Clay Yashida’s compound, where Silver Samurai runs his operations, is on fire and being destroyed. Samurai himself has been stabbed through with a sword and shot with a few arrows, and he struggles to stand up against the people who are attacking him. Their leader says to burn the rest of the building and kill everyone, and then to desecrate the graves. Samurai shrugs off the first two, but gets real pissed off about the idea of his ancestors being dug up.
He asks who is doing this, and the answer is “The Red Right Hand”. Judging from how one of the old dudes in the main story was wearing a red hand as a symbol on his shirt, I’m guessing they must be behind this, then. This is unexpectedly badass for a bunch of randoms. Samurai starts slashing his way through all the guards and charging straight into the line of fire, which is pretty poignant and brilliantly done by Latour. Y’know, it’d be pretty good if Aaron and Latour ever decided to do a whole comic together… maybe one day….
Samurai somehow manages to take out everybody, fighting right up to the shrine of Mariko and protecting it. He kneels, mortally wounded, by her headstone and says he’ll be with her soon. He then reveals that he has a son, which I’m pretty sure is a new development, before he succumbs to his wounds and dies. His sword, planted fresh into the ground, stands where he can’t anymore.
It’s really well done, and a sign that Jason Aaron is really getting to do whatever he wants here. Wolverine? In Hell. John Wraith? Dead. Silver Samurai? Dead. Who’s next?
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Renato Guedes, Jose Wilson Magalhaes, Oclair Albert
Colours: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics