“Snikts a Living” – The Tao of Wolverine: The Best There Is
I really shouldn’t like Wolverine: The Best There Is. It’s a big, pointless, violent, nihilistic comic book. It’s yet another Wolverine title. It’s mostly made up of mutilation, murder and perverse humour. It’s written by a guy whose comics I’ve never read and whose novels I probably never will read. I really shouldn’t like Wolverine: The Best There Is.
Nobody really wanted me to like the book, either. Marvel launched it with virtually no publicity. No hype, no preamble, maybe 1 house ad for the series. There don’t seem to have been any positive reviews; just buckets and buckets of hate from the Comics Internet. Take this for example. Wow. Nobody really wanted me to like the book.
I wasn’t aware of any of this, however. Through it’s 12-issue run, Wolverine: The Best There Is became one of the books I most looked forward to. Up there with The Walking Dead, Morning Glories, DeadpoolMAX and Fables. Through Juan Jose Ryp’s ludicrous art and Charlie Huston’s even more ludicrous writing, I came to understand a few things about modern superhero comics.
After all, on paper there’s nothing about this book that should have made it unpopular, but unpopular it was. This was a book with a notable creative team. This was a book with one of the biggest characters in the Marvel roster. This was a book that offered up exactly what the readers seem to demand on a Wednesday-by-Wednesday basis: blood, guts, boobs, more blood, in-jokes, obscure characters, dirty jokes and yet more blood. I personally didn’t like it for those things. I wasn’t familiar with the obscure characters. I don’t need excessive sex and violence to make me like a book.
What really got me was the sheer audacity of Huston’s undertaking. Here was a crazy, unhinged story that was the comics equivalent of Russell Crowe in Gladiator committing stone cold murder and screaming “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED???”.
In Wolverine: The Best There Is everyone’s favourite hairy Canadian with an x-gene is targeted by a crazy villain and forced to overcome inhuman amounts of torture by virtue of his healing factor, going on to withstand enough to kill regular people many times over. He is given every disease known to man simultaneously and faced with a gauntlet of unkillable villains, all in the name of some silly plan for world domination (or, in this case, world genocide). He eventually wins, with a bit of help from the X-men. If you take it’s most basic elements, this could be any Wolverine comic ever, really. There’s nothing about this book that should have made it unpopular.
This comic took the exact things that make a popular comic and cranked them up so far past 11 that I imagine the average reviewer was forced to confront their own irrational obsession, the same irrational obsession we all share. What seemed alright in the middle of the night and a few dozen beers deep didn’t look so good in the harsh light of day.
At least to them. Personally, I have no problem with my love of comics. It’s for this exact reason that I don’t tend to read a lot of comics reviews, especially before I read the book on my own. Not to pay attention to comics reviews before making a purchase is probably not the best advice to give on a website that prominently features comics reviews, but I stand by it. Do yourself one better. Go to your local comic shop (*ahem* Unreal City) and ask about what’s good. Not enough people do that. There’s a reason why this series only lasted 12 issues.
I’m not saying Wolverine: The Best There Is was the best there is in comics. I’m saying it was pretty darn good, a cyanide pill laced with more ideas than a reader knows what to do with, tongue-in-cheek cyberpunk torture porn that makes you hate yourself in the best possible way. I’m going to miss it.