Wolverine: Black, White & Blood (#3) – Various

4 out of 5

Cute, and what took ya so long?

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood is Marvel’s spin on the Batman: Black & White format – an anthology series, with short stories ranging from across the lead character’s career depicted by varying artist / writer team – given the Wolvie-appropriate addition of red spot colors to the black and white base. Issue 3 features three quality tales:

32 Warriors and a A Broken Heart, by writer John Ridley and artist Jorge Fornes. Ridley recaps some history with Mariko, and Wolvie’s adopted daughter Amiko, and the Silver Samurai, building up to an extended showdown with different sets of warriors – totaling 32, Silver Sam included – who are holding Amiko hostage. The narration has the usual gravitas, and the pacing the usual cinematic flair, of screenwriter Ridley, but that’s not a bad thing, here: Fornes matches the beats with a mix of widescreen and smaller panels, and the battle and theme of family carry good weight. The way Ridley breaks in to the story is a little distracting, though, highlighting the repeating nature of Wolvie’s battles with Samurai, and it’s not clear how that connected to the story itself.

Donny Cates and Chris Bachalo combo the current, Ghost Rider-infused version of Frank Castle with Wolverine for an entertaining bar fight. It’s fun, leaning in to Castle’s apparent time-displaced nature – he pops in to the bar to witness the fight he knows is to come, and, as is the case with time travel, ends up being involved in a way he hadn’t expected – but Bachalo’s art is a tough sell in the minimalistic colors, as his cluttered panels need a bit more eye direction than the three colors can provide. He does an admirable job of switching up how he tries to highlight intended focuses, and it mostly works, but it’s still a case of an artist needing to adapt their style to match whatever the theme is, and Chris doesn’t quite accomplish that, as it’s easy to lose track of where we are in the scenes here and there. It’s still a good read, though, and impressive on the whole.

Jed MacKay and Jesus Saiz use Wolvie in his X-Force duds and a Mars setting for the blacks and whites and reds, and this is another satisfying romp. MacKay’s narration displays his typical respect for his characters – matching their expected tone, but keeping with the Marvel snark – though he maybe over-explains how Wolvie wins the fight he finds himself in. ‘Red Planet Blues’ is intended to be a lighter affair, though, and it exceeds at that: Saiz’s artwork is phenomenal, the pace crackles, and we get to smile at some good banter, and at how badass Wolverine is.