So why does Gorilla Man show up and team up with Wolverine in fighting the Atlas villain Jade Claw? Because it seems like fun, that’s why. I understand that Jason Aaron had set up Wolverine as a boss in San Francisco’s Chinatown, but I certainly never expected Wolverine to get involved in the Agents of Atlas’ business.
Aaron pulls a huge tone shift in this story. He’s always got mad, fun ideas, but all those stories about possession and dead relatives were a bit of a downer. Letting Wolverine team up with a kung-fu master, a smart-talking street kid, and Gorilla Man certainly makes the point that this is a bit more fun. And in case it wasn’t clear enough, here comes the Immortal Weapon Fat Cobra (and all he talks about is how hungry he is!)
Aaron outdoes himself with Jade Claw’s villain banter. Her dialogue is full of some of the most petty, villainous actions I’ve ever read. It’s a good thing this story is so light-hearted, cause a real villain doing these things would be upsetting! Heck, she orders some flunky to swallow his own tongue!
Aaron has a habit of making up insane, awesome new villains (see recent creation Cannonfoot). While I appreciate seeing Razorfist again, the villain who steals the show in this collection is Soulstriker. I know his name because he and his teammates helpfully introduce themselves when they attack our heroes. Soulstriker has the ability to punch through flesh and pummel you directly in the soul. Wonderful. That’s the type of mad idea that keeps me coming back to comics.
I think Ron Garney is having a good time drawing this stuff, too. He gets the aforementioned heroes and villains, AND he gets to draw gigantic Chinese dragons. And those dragons puke in the course of the story. Now how is that not fun? I didn’t mention the kung-fu master totally looks like a 70’s master too, making him even cooler. Garney’s art used to have a bit more detail; his faces have gotten a tad sketchy. But what he lacks in linework he more than doubles in kinetic action. This book has a lot of butt-kicking going on.