Artist: Frank Miller
After recently seeing The Wolverine at the cinemas the other day I decided to go through some of the classic Wolverine stories that I own, starting with the one that the film is loosely based on, and one of the most iconic Wolverine stories of all time.
Wolverine travels to Japan to visit the woman he loves most, Mariko Yashida, only to find that she's now married, and that her father, Lord Shingen has returned, ruling The Hand, as well as wanting Wolverine dead.
This is an amazing story, and although it's not necessarily the most exciting Wolverine story to ever be told (still very exciting though), it is probably one of the deepest story to feature Wolverine, as it shows him as a man, and how life has affected him emotionally. Chris Claremont did a phenomenal job with this story, and he's been one of the best writers that the X-Men have ever had, taking this into Wolverine as well. He just managed to balance everything perfectly, showing the emotion, and depth behind Wolverine's character, whilst also adding some amazing action, and excitement. Claremont also did a very good job at structuring this story, as although it's only four issues long, it's got a lot more in it than some stories much longer. Claremont also added a lot of drama, and suspense in this story, as well as perfect characterisation, as Wolverine wasn't the only character to have a lot of development during this story.
The art on this story would be done by the legendary Frank Miller, who's also well known for his writing as well as art. Now to be honest I'm generally not a huge fan of either, as although he's given some amazing story, and is a very talented artist, there are a lot better writers, and artists than him. In saying that I did however love his art on this story, feeling that not only could no one else do better, but that it's Miller's best artwork ever. The detail of Miller's art in this story was simply amazing, and his art really suits the Wolverine character. The layout of Miller's art is also fantastic, giving depth, as well as more drama to the story, which is amazing. Miller also handled the action, and emotion in this story perfectly, as the action was very exciting, and explosive, whilst the emotion being very realistic, allowing you to easily tell how the character's were feeling.
This story would mainly centre around Wolverine returning to Japan, and trying to fix his relationship with Mariko, which has been damaged due to her father making her marry another man. Now there have been some great romances in comics throughout the years, and Wolverine has had his fair share off them himself. This however is probably the biggest relationship in his history, as although he loved Jean Grey, still mourning her death, Mariko was his one true love in life. I also loved how this story shows the emotional loss that Wolverine has due to not being with Mariko, and dishonouring himself in front of her, and although it's not necessarily the best romance I've seen in comics, it's up there with them.
As if Wolverine wasn't lucky enough to have one interest in this story, he gets two, as the Ronin known as Yukio tries to make Wolverine love her, and she eventually succedes when Wolverine losses hope in being reunited with Mariko. Now although this wasn't as good a relationship, it was probably more interesting, as the characteristics shown made things real interesting, as although you could see similarities between Yukio, and Wolverine, as well as an attraction, they are two different types of people deep down. Besides this I also found Yukio to be an interesting character in this story, and the mystery that was behind her made her even more interesting.
This story would also show a lot of changes in Wolverine's characteristics, with a lot off them happening from comic to comics. The most interesting change story wise was probably the change in his actions whilst being with Yukio, as he acted completely different as normal, which was interesting, but at the same time wouldn't last long. The other changes were more things we now take for granted, as we see the man behind the animal, seeing a much softer, and caring side to Wolverine, with that changing instantly into berserker rage once angry, giving real depth to the story, as well as a dramatic tone.
The main villain in this story was Yukio's father, Lord Shingen, who at this time in comic history controlled the assassin group the Hand. Although not necessarily the most memorable villain in comic book history, Shingen was still a very interesting villain, with a lot of good things about his character. I also liked how he was very selfish, and maniacal, caring mainly about his own power, and wants, even mistreating his daughter if it benefited him. I also loved how there was a natural hate between Shingen, and Wolverine, as it allowed the tension between the two to build instantly, with very little need for build up. The two fights between Wolverine, and Shingen were also very interesting, and exciting, but unlike some fights also showed the characteristics of both parties perfectly, which is perfect when you have a samurai overtone to the fight.
This may not be the most exciting Wolverine story to be told, but it's certainly one of the best. It showed Wolverine perfectly, showing that allow he may seem, and act like an animal that deep down he's still a man, and a goodhearted one at that. It also showed the emotional strain that Wolverine has went through, as well as his relationship problems perfectly, also having some amazing action. Due to all this I'd highly recommend this book, as it's truly a must read for and Wolverine, or X-Men fan, and even if you're not it's still worth trying, as I'm sure you won't be disappointed.