A problem events often run into is pacing. Even the best events struggle with it. Sometimes events tread water in the middle to pad out the length. Others take decompression to the extreme, frustratingly slowing the story and its progression to a crawl. So does Return of Wolverine #3 fall into that?
Charles Soule, Declan Shalvey, Laura Martin and Joe Sabino turn in a good issue here, but one that isn’t without flaws.
[*Minor spoilers ahead!]
Logan is still trying to sort out who he is and what exactly he’s facing. Meanwhile, the X-Men have tracked Logan to the mysterious island where he is trying to learn more about Soteria. They arrive to find themselves set upon the locals, but their biggest threat may be their friend himself!
As to the positives – this is an exciting action story. To see the X-Force aspect of Logan’s personality know how to take the X-Men on was great. The pacing of the individual fights was driven by sharp, well thought-out writing and dynamic art
Soule gets into Logan’s head incredibly well. Even amnesiac, his lead is perfectly in character, and the script makes it clear what he’s going through as he struggles against his circumstances. Shalvey and Martin put it on the page perfectly in both the character advancement and action aspects. The fight between Logan and Nightcrawler in particular is the highlight of the issue.
By placing its focus on a series of fights, this issue only takes baby steps as far as progressing the plot. Soteria is nothing more than vaguely menacing, with no answers to their motives and goals. Logan himself has not seen any advancement, rehashing some of the classic Wolverine tropes and not offering anything new specific to his return. Also, the story has made it clear that he’s been back for a long while, which takes a bit of the wind out of the story’s sails.
This series is only five issues long and we have not really seen anything besides a gigantic mystery box for three issues. Without clear motives from our characters (especially the antagonists), there’s no stakes, and without stakes, it’s hard to be invested in continuing the story. We need clues and breadcrumbs to show us why we should care.
I trust Soule, especially with other long-term stories such as Daredevil and his creator-owned work, but so far it seems like he’s padding things out a bit to hit the desired length of the series, rather than for story reasons. The next two issues could totally redeem the story, and I truly hope it does. I liked this issue, but it was definitely flawed, but not in a way that it can’t come back from. Unfortunately this issue ends up an entertaining but ultimately frustrating exercise.
Return of Wolverine #3 is available now from Marvel Comics.