We all have comics that stand out to us for one reason or another. Whether it’s because of an emotional connection, or whether the comic spoke to your very core, all that should matter to you is that that specific comic is important to you. During my recent adventure digging through my long boxes, and (finally) setting up an inventory system so that I can keep track of the comics I own. In the process of doing that, I came across a comic that I hadn’t read in more than ten years; Wolverine: Bloodlust.
The comic was published in November of 1990, but I first read it close to seven years later where I found the second part of the story in the British reprint magazine Wolverine: Unleashed #8. Although only the second half of the story, the impact that the second half had on my young self cannot be understated.
When those final few pages had concluded, I remember my twelve year old self sitting there being stunned. This was a story that really highlighted Wolverine‘s struggle with his inner beast, and for me to read it at such a formative stage in my comic book reading is something that I only really appreciated recently just how great a job this story does of highlighting the conflicted nature of Logan‘s soul.
I will always look upon this story with rose tinted glasses, but even with those removed this remains a cracking tale.
After rereading this comic (is it long enough to be called a graphic novel?) today I realized that my love for this story wasn’t just my rose tinted glasses in full effect; it really does hold up more than twenty five years after it was first published in December of 1990. The artwork has that perfect mix of fluid detail with an easy to follow visual style. Basically, it’s classic Alan Davis. While I undoubtedly love this comic for what it means to me personally, it is still a very solid comic in it’s own right. There are some great action scenes in this comic that are wonderfully illustrated; by giving a really brutal feel to the fights, with Wolverine very rarely emerging unscathed. His clothing is frequently torn to shreds and even though there’s very little actual blood depicted here, the fights feel really brutal. As you can see in the two panels above, there’s a sense of ferocity and speed here that really plays to the nature of Wolverine‘s character, and when the fights are over, the toll that they take on the X-Man is visible. Remember, this was a time before Wolverine could heal from almost any wound in a matter of a few pages. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was actually vulnerable; yeah, he could heal fast, but that was it. Within the pages of Wolverine: Bloodlust alone, there were times where he had to either ignore the damage his body had suffered, or stop to allow himself time to heal. Indeed once, had it not been for a timely intervention, the damage sustained was too much for Wolverine‘s mutant healing factor to endure.
Wolverine: Bloodlust is a comic about contrast. Not only in the way it highlights the dual nature of Wolverine‘s inner struggle between man and beast, but also the colour pallet used in the comic; for the most part the comic uses little colour; indeed the colour pallet used is quite muted, often with a more visible (I won’t say vibrant because it’s not) background colour that’s used to highlight the barely coloured foregrounds giving a remarkably striking effect.
By utilizing a lack of colour within the comic Bernie Jaye is able to effortlessly show you just how brutal the Yukon can be, and yet the pages where he does use colours to emphasize how at peace the Alshara (an Astral Plane sort of thing) is when compare to the rest of the story is wonderful. When he returns from the Alshara to more more mundane world the sense of loss from Wolverine is visible in the way in which Alan Davis draws the character. Just as the use of colour shows how wonderful the Nirvana-like Alshara is when compared to the world we live in, the last page shows the natural beauty of the Yukon in a way that brings the dual nature of the comic to a brilliant close; by using the same colour scheme as the mundane world, we see another type of beauty. The stark natural beauty of our own world, if we choose to see it.
Wolverine: Bloodlust‘s final page remains to this day one of my favourite concluding pages to any comic. It’s a brilliant conclusion to a brilliant comic.