Friday, September 12, 2014


Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray | Artist: Joseph Michael Linsner
Colorists: Dan Brown & Nick Filardi with Ian Hannin | Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Production: Maya Gutierrez | Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso | Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine

The first issue of CLAWS was marked "1 of 6". But inexplicably, the following two issues were labeled "of 3". Then, four years later, CLAWS 2 came about -- a second three issue series, picking up exactly where the first left off. Was this originally intended as a six-issue series that got split into two three-parters? I don't know. But at any rate, I decided that even though I had barely tolerated the first CLAWS, I might as well check out its sequel.

As noted above, this story begins precisely where the last concluded. Wolverine and the Black Cat are celebrating their victory over Arcade and the White Rabbit, but the villains are not idle in the Savage Land, where our heroes had dumped them as punishment after their first adventure. Arcade and his hare-brained paramour encounter an alien with time travel technology, knock her out, steal her gizmos, and teleport Wolverine and Black Cat to the far-flung future.

And, what do you know -- this just happens to be the future inhabited by Killraven! This appears to be the "real" Killraven, not the reimagined Alan Davis version I wrote about a few months back. And I have to say, if this is the actual version of the character, maybe I'm not so interested in reading his ESSENTIAL volume after all. Davis's Killraven was dark and tense, while this dystopian future is unexpectedly brightly colored and almost optimistic. But maybe that's just the writing of Palmiotti and Gray, who tend to favor light-hearted adventure stories over all else.

At any rate, transporting the Black Cat to the future seems like a great "fish out of water" type of concept, but given the style of these stories, such an exercise is not meant to be. She takes the whole thing in stride, as if it happens to her every day. So Wolverine and the Black Cat quickly team up with Killraven and his friends, help them to invade a Martian stronghold, and eventually return to the present -- delivering justice to Arcade and White Rabbit once more by stranding them in the Savage Land... again.

Once again, Palmiotti and Gray try to set Wolverine and the Black Cat up as a couple, and once again the attempt fails. Even after a scene at the story's start, where they appear to have physically consummated their flirtation following their first adventure, I just cannot buy these two together. Sure, opposites attract, but this pairing feels like something out of somebody's fan-fiction rather than a natural combination. It just does not work. So when the story ends with them in each other's arms, ready to "act like animals" in the Savage Land, the moment is not sweet or funny or romantic or anything other than cringe-inducing.

Also on display here are the same issues I've had with all the Palmiotti/Gray stuff I've reviewed so far: a poorly written script. The text is simplistic and, for the umpteenth time, the lack of contractions in most of the dialogue makes it read very stiff. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but what's with the anti-contraction stance these two have taken? Do they speak their dialogue aloud as they write it? Because in my head it sounds unnatural, so I can only imagine how bad it would seem when verbalized.

And while we're at it, why don't their editors get after them for this? Isn't the editor's job to... edit? In order to make the finished product better and more polished? I would think any writers would appreciate a little constructive criticism, but I guess that's just not how Marvel works these days.

The artwork, however, is just as beautiful as last time. Linsner's Wolverine once more sets the standard for how the character should be depicted out of costume. He looks like what you'd get if Bruce Timm attempted to draw Dave Cockrum's version of the character. It's a great combination, and the facial expressions continue to impress as well.

And the Black cat spends the majority of the story in an evening gown, so the appallingly awful costume Linsner had her in last time around is nowhere to be seen. Though all three covers for this series depict the Cat in her the correct/classic outfit, so maybe someone at Marvel saw that monstrosity in the first series and took Linsner to task over his crime against comics.

But just as with the first volume of CLAWS, I'm glad I passed on this when it was first released. The artwork, wonderful as it is, can't salvage a nonsensical, sub-standard story. Too bad, because until this point, I had been pleasantly surprised by most of the other Palmiotti/Gray jobs I had read. Honestly, my main takeaway after reading both iterations of CLAWS is that I wouldn't mind reading an Arcade/White Rabbit mini-series by this same team. That pairing makes sense, and their chemistry plays them very well off of one another!

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