All-New Wolverine: The Box (#8-9) – Tom Taylor

3 out of 5

A well executed romp that unfortunately feels a touch inconsequential.

SHIELD agents intercept the transport of a mysterious box; when the box is opened, the agents disappear… and Wolverine is called in to help.

Some aspects of this two-parter are right in line with Taylor’s ANW writing so far: The dialogue remains both humorous and respectful of its audience’s intelligence, and the storyline is used, without many visible seams, to develop Laura and Gabby’s characters, to evolve ongoing plotlines (minimally in this case, but that is to say that this feels like it works with the title’s timeline), while also beginning, middle, and ending a self-contained arc.  What it doesn’t do as seamlessly is justify the Why of what’s occurring: Why Wolverine is the one to get involved – it’s ‘explained’, but the explanation could use its own explanation – and Why things can only be resolved the way the are.  In other words: This is a story that features Wolverine because her name is on the book, not because its logical by the ‘needs’ of the book.

This isn’t the worst fate.  Many comic titles – indie or major – are entire series constructed of cut-and-paste plot elements that just happen to involve our leads.  Part of writing magic is to do it well enough that we don’t question it, and Tom keeps that spell going until the story maybe gets a little too big for its britches.  Though I do appreciate that he had the smarts to not write this in a vacuum and included Captain Marvel and Iron Man showing up when shit went down, as they would (along with any other given hero…) given the notable event that occurs that, yeah, I’m keeping vague.

These books feature a ‘Road to Civil War’ banner, suggesting they’re lead-ins to Marvel’s (then) crossover series.  This feels like why it might come across  as rather inconsequential, as its possible the two-parter was just used as a way to bring some Civil War characters into the fold, and scheduling meant their were only two issues to do so.  Again taking the good with the bad, crossover tie-ins are generally completely pointless, so that this felt tonally consistent with the series is certainly a plus.

Marcio Takara’s art was a good match for last-issue’s lower key comedic hijinks, but they’re not as convincing for the large scale events here, with a few too many splash color backgrounds highlighting the artist’s fairly standard paneling style, i.e. main character front and center performing an action.  When the action is action, though, the characters lose personality, underlining the question of Why is Wolverine here?

I’m confident that sense of consequence will be reinstilled in future issues.