At 1,064 pages, Wolverine Volume 1 is one of Marvel's largest Omnibus editions, and at first glances one of its most scattershot. There appears to be no one long unbroken run of comics here, and the reason for this is it accurately (and extensively) charts Wolverine's rise from an adversary from the Hulk to X-Man to successful solo character through the chronological representation of his earliest stories. The word chronological sort of works against me there, as the Omnibus actually reprints the issues in story order rather than publication order: as such, Barry Windsor-Smith's excellent Weapon X opens the book, which then moves onto Wolverine's print debut in a trio of Hulk issues written by Len Wein and carries on in the same fashion.
Not every story in the book is essential but enough of them are to merit a strong recommendation. Weapon X and Chris Claremont's Wolverine 4-issue mini from 1982 are widely accepted as comics classics in their own right. The former charts in a rather furious fashion the creation of Wolverine's adamantium skeleton and owes a debt to An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge which is always good to see regardless of medium. Windsor-Smith's art is as frenzied as his prose here, and the whole story (collected in 9-page instalments from anthology title Marvel Comics Presents) stands alone from the rest of this collection stylistically. Claremont's mini (illustrated and co-plotted by comic god Frank Miller) sees Claremont's fascination with Japanese culture fully explored and lays to an extent the groundwork for Wolvie's later solo series (set not in Japan but in the literary cypher of Madripoor). Besides that, it's simply a masterclass in story, dialogue, character evolution and of course art, and should not be missed. Included here is each story's extra material from their hardback Premiere Editions (detailed below), which in the mini's case collected the only two issues of X-Men in this volume, capably handled by Paul Smith on art and directly following the series.
The trio of Hulk issues that introduce Wolverine perhaps ought not to be presented in their entirety as they are here. Taken out of context they're a fine collection of stories written with a sort of gentleness towards the ever-fraught green goliath, but their collection here should have been limited to issue 181, in which Wolverine battles Hulk and nemesis of the week Wendigo, and the two pages in which he appears in the surrounding two issues which are printed wholesale regardless of Wolverine's absence. Enjoyable as the issues are, they feel a little archaic compared to the rest of the work in the book, which ranges from itself contemporary to revolutionary.
Worthy of particular praise is Claremont's Kitty Pryde and Wolverine 6-parter, which in truth focuses more on the development of Kitty and how Wolverine relates to her than the opposite, but it's to my mind a perfect story and one I'm glad is here. Claremont again focuses squarely on Japan, further exploring Wolverine's gaijin samurai past as a backdrop to Pryde's evolution into Shadowcat and a grown woman, essentially. Art is by Al Milgrom, and again the series' extras from another Premiere Edition are included. The inclusion of so many previously-treated special editions ought to speak volumes about this set's quality.
The longest runs throughout the rest of the book are Save The Tyger, another Marvel Comics Presents story which establishes the beginning of the Wolverine solo series, whose first ten issues are reprinted. Both feature Claremont on script and John Buscema on art, whose work (comparable to that of his brother Sal) is arguably the best fit for Wolverine in the entire history of the character- lean, muscular, manic. Simply fantastic.
Dotted throughout the book there's a selection of single issues, including a Captain America story that's not too memorable, a Peter David/ Todd McFarlane Grey Hulk story that's worth inclusion for that collaboration alone, two Punisher issues about dinosaurs and hunters that's perhaps not the best way to close the book, a pair of 6-page stories (one of which features Wolverine and Hercules having an arbitrary punch up in a bar and is far more entertaining than I expected) and of course Spider-Man vs. Wolverine.
Now, there's a book mis-sold by its title. Yes, the two have a scrap in a graveyard at the story's conclusion, but it's far, far more interesting than Marvel's two most popular characters finally getting together for a 'who's the strongest' knockabout (though that question is essentially answered). Rather, it's a probing character study that delves into the psyche of an already disillusioned wallcrawler and Wolverine who, as always, is dealing with issues from his past. Like the vast majority of this book, it's well written and well drawn, and boasts one of my all-time favourite sequences in comics as Spider-Man is unable to escape the severity of his actions as he makes his way through Berlin Airport on the way back to New York.
If you buy this (and you should, it'll be one of the nicest things you own, and I guarantee that) and you enjoy it, you can follow it up with volumes 3-6 of Wolverine Classic, which continue the solo series' adventures in colour, or check out the Essential volumes 1-5 which reprint a larger amount of stories in black and white. Hopefully a second Omnibus'll come along when (if?) the second Wolverine movie (long-mooted to be an adaptation of the Claremont/ Miller tale here collected) is released, but for the time being at least three quarters of this huge tome bear borderline obsessive repeated readings.
Page Count - 1064
Binding - Sewn
Issues Collected - excerpts from Marvel Comics Presents 1-10, 72-84, Incredible Hulk 180-182, 340, excerpt from Marvel Treasury Edition 26, excerpt from Best of Marvel Comics, Wolverine (limited series) 1-4, (1988 ongoing series) 1-10, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine 1-6, Spider-Man vs. Wolverine 1, excerpt from Marvel Age Annual 4, Punisher War Journal #6-7.
Creative Team - Various
Other Books Collected -
Wolverine (mini series)
Kitty Pryde And Wolverine
Best Of Wolverine: Volume 1
Wolverine Classic Volumes 1
Spiderman Vs. Wolverine
Extra Content - Introductions from Premiere Editions of Wolverine (mini), Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Best Of Wolverine Vol. 1, original sketches by John Romita, alternate TPB covers for Weapon X, Weapon X addendum from 2001 by Barry Windsor-Smith, various Hulk-related covers and an afterword from The Incredible Hulk And Wolverine, alternate TPB covers for Wolverine (mini), Kitty Pryde and Wolverine and Save The Tyger, original pencils by Mike Zeck and Al Milgrom, alternate covers for second printing of Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, Wolverine Classic Vol. 1 and Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine. Total: 42 pages
- Hardcover: 1056 pages
- Publisher: Marvel; 1 edition (29 September 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 130292267X
- ISBN-13: 978-1302922672
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 6 x 29 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 3.1 Kg
- Customer Reviews: 15 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)