illustration (c) José Villarrubia 2000 digital
illustration (c) José Villarrubia 2000
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Past Glories

Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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The berzerk X-man is forced to claw his way out of another sticky situation.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Leinil Francis Yu, Edgar Tadeo, Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft/EM/KF
Four Issue Story Arc, trade paperback collection
Published by Marvel Comics 1997 (trade paperback 1998)
$1.99 single issue, $14.95 trade paperback

Reviewed by Brian J. Domingos

They’ve never seen roadkill moving before.

That’s actually what Wolverine is. Moving roadkill. NOT DEAD YET has everyone’s favourite beserker X-man done right.

Warren Ellis and Leinil Francis Yu create a beautiful union of words and pictures in this four part tale. It’s done in flashbacks from ten years ago and a smoothly rendered story in the present. The story, basically, is this: Ten years ago while living in Hong Kong, Wolverine, or Logan, as he is called, had a drinking buddy named McLeish, also called the White Ghost. McLeish had the reputation of being the worlds best killer.

As it happens, McLeish ends up killing the father of Logan’s girlfriend. So, in turn, Logan blows McLeish up, and sends him to the bottom of Hong Kong Harbor. Now, ten years later, McLeish is back trying to exact revenge on Logan.
"Ellis grabs you by the collar and drags you into Logan’s seedy world."

The story is bloody, violent, and full of action movie clichés. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ellis grabs you by the collar and drags you into Logan’s seedy world. He introduces McLeish as the worlds best killer and gives but a little insight into his sordid being.

Throughout the story, Ellis shows bits and pieces of Logan and McLeish’s relationship through meetings and conversations between the two. There are also back stories about McLeish’s methods and his motives. We all know that he’s capable, its just a matter of showing it. Ellis slowly gives out hints and show parts of McLeish’s skill; it’s a whole lot of action and mystery.

Yu’s art is a perfect compliment to Ellis’ writing style. This is one of those combinations that Ellis is famous for, such as Ellis/Robertson on TRANSMETROPOLITAN, or Ellis/Cassady on PLANETARY. Yu has a slick, fluid style which brings this adventure to life. His figures demand respect and his skill more than backs it up. His style is similar to a Hong Kong action flick, where everything is huge and fast, and all of the scenes are set up for optimally powerful visuals.
"All in all, Yu draws possibly the best Wolverine ever."

His storytelling is top notch; sometimes all that’s needed to set the mood is a glare from Logan or a coarse smile from McLeish. All in all, he draws possibly the best Wolverine ever. He manages to make him menacing while at the same time making him look like hell. From the second half of the story he bleeds everywhere. His Wolverine is tough as nails. Edgar Tadeo’s inking style gives Yu the right amount of depth and helps round out the whole book. NOT DEAD YET has to be my favourite Wolverine story. The tension is dramatic, the consistent cutting back-and-forth between the present and the past adds to this. On top of that, the art is phenomenal. Ellis and Yu went all out for this arc, and everyone should give it a read. Everything really comes together artistically in the end.


Brian J. Domingos is a regular contributor to PopImage.

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