‘X Lives of Wolverine’ is a story that standing on its own would be relatively fine in execution, but as a centerpiece kicking off the next era of X-Men-related books it can be somewhat lacking. Artistically it’s really well done, pulling off what is being asked of them with simple colorful, and brutal ease. Perhaps being read as a full complete unit with its sibling series might bring more to the book overall.
The concept of coming full circle can at times be considered a positive or a negative thing, with it sometimes being a more neutral thing. In stories, it can be used as a good way to bookend a quest or long-running story, characters finding themselves in a position similar to where they began but having changed greatly along the way. Other times it can mean being back in that same spot and nothing really changing, and no questions really being answered.
X Lives of Wolverine as a whole falls more into that second column, as the series has now reached its conclusion (of sorts).
Logan hopping through time, through various eras of his life, to stop Omega Red from murdering Charles Xavier or his ancestors is a solid concept, let’s get that out of the way. It’s got Logan being at his most Logan, doing all the Logan things that Logan fans want him to do. At times some of the moments can be a bit over the top in their grotesque execution, but for the most part, it’s fine.
Where the series seems to stumble is in the fact that it’s centered around the Mikhail/Russia and Omega Red plotlines that have been stretched out over two years in both the current X-Force and Wolverine books. Featuring those plotlines is not the stumbling block though, as this very well could have been a conclusion to those to allow the books to wrap that up at last. No, the fact that they feature those and only really the Omega Red part (for the moment) is wrapped up and nothing fully really comes of what has gone down the past four issues (with some exceptions) is where things sort of fall apart.
I’m not saying it should have been the end all be all of all things with those plots, but it didn’t really wrap much up and actually created far more questions than it gave any answers. Such as there never being a stated reason for why Omega Red seemed tied to only be able to go to places where a Logan could rush to the rescue (there were actually time periods visited where Logan was locked up that would have been a great time to strike Xavier). I would assume it has something to do with the use of the Cerebro Sword, but it was never stated either way so that’s only a guess at this point.
How the time travel even was working was vague, but that can be forgiven as time travel is a messy concept at best. Even the effects of this time travel got wiped away because of a handy dandy mind wipe from Jean, keeping the timeline where it should be despite all the destruction and terror that the two men fighting brought to various time periods.
Overall though it’s still a gorgeous book as Josh Cassara and Frank Martin are able to bring great life to the variety of time periods, action, and talking scenes. It’s got a rough but also smooth and detailed feeling to it, with the colors bridging that perfect area between light and dark with a muted sort of filter over them to make it feel heavier. There are quite a few pages that show a variety of uses of mutant powers such as Mikhail warping reality to vanish his headquarters or Gateway’s gateway opening that are really cool ways to visualize powers, we don’t get to see used that often.
Omega Red and Wolverine’s final fight was brutal and powerful and well-choreographed, it was quite a sight to behold. Especially with the way a lot of panels were done, including throwing in flashbacks to moments from the previous issues, and the use of insets and white space in others.
Cory Petit continues to do great work with the letters, making the energy/tone of the words change depending on the time period or characters perfectly. Some big brutal powerful SFX really adds to some of the pages, such as the final moment in the Omega Red/Logan battle that you can just hear as you gaze upon the page.
Overall, this was a fine story but didn’t really feel like it was the event to build what is coming next as it and its sibling series were billed to be. Perhaps we’ll see that more from X Deaths of Wolverine’s final issue, which this one closes out leading right into as the two books completely meet.
X Lives of Wolverine #5 is now on sale in print or digitally from Marvel Comics.