Wolverine’s life is one continuous Déjà vu. From the beginning of this journey, interspersed with his brutal battle with Sabretooth, he’s continually dreaming or remembering these feral-type creatures called the Lupine. There’s also a constant burning and berserker rages that keep transporting him to the past. Are they his lives? Logan (Wolverine) and Creed (Sabretooth) have had a long entangled history. Both savage-like with healing factors, just how are they connected?
Before that question can be answered both men wind up in Wakanda. Then more flashbacks. Jeph Loeb’s storytelling techniques in the motion comic “Wolverine Versus Sabretooth” interweaves their past with a series of “what the hell” moments. “Split evolutionary strand, the Lupine strand,” it’s what brings the men to the African nation. Then there’s Romulus, just the mention of his name frightens Creed, a man long known to kill with impunity and relish the experience.
The thing about revitalizing characters that are believed to already be known can be a daunting task. Through films and several comic book series, audiences feel they are well versed in Wolverine’s story. But this Lupine/wolf-type association puts Marvel’s evolutionary theory into a tailspin. After all these years do we finally get to know who Logan is and where he really comes from? And is he the bridge between humans and mutants, or something more? “Bound by some genetic thread” it all comes down to Logan reclaiming his humanity and taking some responsibility for what Creed has done. Essentially Wolverine will become “Quod Sum Eris” (Sabretooth’s warning or curse of “I am what you will be”). Still who is Romulus and what is he preparing Wolverine for?
In giving clarity to a long standing destructive relationship Loeb continues to make Logan interesting by forcing the audience to be face-to-face with what they are most uncomfortable with. In the end Wolverine is complex. He has killed, but what makes him better than Sabretooth is that he doesn’t enjoy it. At one point where Sabretooth is at his most bestial, the look on his face is at the same level of understanding as the beginning of the motion animation, whereas Wolverine is continually attempting to process and understand what is going on around him. Does that make Wolverine the hero? Perhaps not, but his groping for understanding is key to driving Loeb’s story.
With a gripping tale comes great art. Simone Bianchi artistic style defies the motion comic genre. His art pops off the screen that makes it “larger than the page” could hold. Bianchi’s work makes the animation compelling. Both Loeb and Bianchi cause you to pause and rewind the scenes if nothing else than to luxuriate in seeing what’s on paper to a screen. What’s more this story is straight from the comic series “Wolverine Evolution.” There isn’t any sort of reimagining of Loeb’s text and Bianchi’s artwork.
“Wolverine Versus Sabretooth” more than fills the void of the films based on this iconic, captivating character. Perhaps in his own story Wolverine should remain animated. There are just some narratives that can be best told in this way.