By Ahmad Chaudhary

I remember my first X-Men figure. It was made by a then new to the scene Toy Biz who is now known as Marvel Toys but no longer produces Marvel Comics figures (Hasbro has the license now). Strange. Anyway, it was a Wolverine model whose method of acquisition has been forgotten. Emphasizing, for the time at least, the “action” part of action-figure, I was not a fan of the brown and tan colors of his costume because it wasn’t in line with the lemon-yellow, black and royal-blue tiger-stripe garb he wore on the Fox Animated “X-Men” show. The sculpting made the little bruiser look a little too much of a ruffian for my tastes, he didn’t have an “X” on his belt buckle and his retractable claws looked clumsy, reasons that in retrospect show how little I knew about him. Also, for some reason he had a samurai sword that he couldn’t even hold and a mask that didn’t fit his face. I was further confused when I saw their 24-inch vinyl model – which also shared the mysterious costume colors, sword and ill-fitting mask.

These days I’m not so ignorant and realize fully that the Toy Biz designers easily could have been inspired by the Chris Claremont- and Frank Miller-sourced Wolverine, a character who was once simply a brutish killer but by way of these two mega-talented creators also garnered a sense of humanity that I suppose has been with him ever since the mini-series was first published in 1982. Save for a handful of single issues I picked up after the first “X-Men” movie came out in 1999, this is the only complete story arc featuring our favorite fearsome Canuck that I can remember reading. There’s “Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure,” by Walter Simonson, Mike Mignola and Bob Wiacek, that I have somewhere in my room but it has been the better half of a decade since I’ve read it. Nonetheless, I enjoyed “Wolverine” and would you rather I say anything else?

Claremont’s dialogue is clever while Miller’s art is temperamental; the two collaborate on a very vivid portrayal of the man then known on the streets as “Logan.” If I were to describe Wolverine based solely on my impression from this book, I’d say he is at once fierce and fiercely loyal. A party animal that sometimes is simply an animal. Logan is always on the hunt, whether it be for those who cross him, avenging some innocents or just looking for a beer (or five). He says little but always means what he says and doesn’t mince words as he does opponents, whether they are human or otherwise. If you don’t know what happens to Wolverine in this canon of comic book canons, I urge you skip the Wiki article and shelve your curiosity until you read this. Aside from the subtle hints I’ve just given, I’ll tell you that the samurai sword I once perceived as useless sees some action.

Canonical is also a characteristic you’ll recognize in the creators, who share something else in common with the ol’ Canuckle Head; often described as being “the best there is at what he does,” Wolverine’s trademark descriptive statement could also be applied to them. As inventive as Miller’s art is in this book, I generally prefer Claremont’s more classic style even when compared with most modern artwork where the coloring has often taken the place of the inking. Not knowing if it would have changed the atmosphere of the story, I’ll let any possible conjecture remain unexplored.

I now must say I prefer the brown and tan costume that appears in this book since Wolvie’s tiger-stripe suit looks a tad silly – from my perspective today, at age twenty-five, compared to my nine-year-old perspective. That first Toy Biz Wolverine figure where I first saw the suit immortalized in “Wolverine” gets props for its undeniably sturdy construction, appropriate accessories and at least attempting innovation with the pop-out claws.

Chris Claremont, Frank Miller
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Marvel Comics