I first read this issue over a decade ago in the British reprint anthology Wolverine Unleashed #8 (I feel like I’ve mentioned that comic a lot in this feature, and it’s only the second one I’ve written), but I only recently purchased in it’s original form in the last couple of weeks when I finally found it in the long boxes at my local comic shop. I was actually quite excited as I remember really enjoying the issue when I read it so many years ago, and so I couldn’t wait to open the cover and start reading.
And you know what?
It wasn’t bad. Certainly not as great as I remember it being, but it was far from unreadable. Had this been a dollar bin comic I’d have certainly been very happy with it, indeed if I hadn’t already read the story years ago, and if I didn’t already have fond memories of the story then I’d probably have been happier with the price I paid for the issue (about three bucks), but as it is the comic didn’t quite live up to my nostalgic expectations. Not every comic will hold up over time, and since doing this feature I’m batting .500 right now, which isn’t too bad.
This honestly isn’t a bad comic; the art is very fitting, and has a distinctly “of the time” feel, and maybe because this is the style that I enjoy, maybe because this particular period in Wolverine comics had such a formative impact upon me, but I really am a big fan of the way this issue looks.
Another pleasant surprise was the way Wolverine #43 can be read as a standalone story – yes, there are certainly plot elements that have carried over from previous issues, and likely will carry over to the next, but none of this is detrimental to a person’s enjoyment of the story within this issue which is unusual in today’s multi part story arcs that frequently cross series. The sub plots here certainly tie this into the previous issues, and likely the following issues, but it has been nearly twenty years since I read the British reprints so I don’t remember what happened next too clearly, and I haven’t reread the issues I have bought to flesh out my collection since picking them up over the past five years so it’s tough to say with absolute certainty, but I’m fairly certain it does.
The main plot points of the story focus around Wolverine taking a jaunt through the urban jungle of Manhattan to clear his head after the events of the previous issues (which apparently involved him being beaten, shot and stabbed), ending up in Central Park Zoo where he confronts an animal abusing lunatic who chooses to pick a fight with the wring mutant. It’s a fairly simple story that really plays up the animalistic side of the X-Man
Whether it was a hallmark of the time, or simply a recurring theme for this issue, but Wolverine‘s internal monologue doesn’t seem to stop reminding the reader that he has an adamantium skeleton and a mutant healing factor (fun fact: when I first started watching the X-Men animated series before reading comics I had no idea what mutants were. I just accepted these characters had super powers, but never questioned why. In one episode in the Savage Land the team was drained of their powers, and Wolverine escaped. Before long he lamented the loss of his mutant healing factor, so I naturally assumed all mutants healed really quickly).
Did this comic hold up nearly twenty years after I first read it? Not as well as I hoped (and certainly not as well as Wolverine: Bloodlust has), but it was still pretty decent overall. I enjoyed it a little more than Old Man Logan #4, anyway, but the style of those comics are twenty five years apart. It’s an almost apples to oranges comparison in many ways.
If you’re a Wolverine fan, and you can find this for a decent price (less than $3) then it’s worth a read. If not…? There are certainly better Wolverine comics out there.