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Astonishing X-Men Wolverine

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Another Marvel Legends series, another Wolverine. Yeah, like we didn't have enough, already. We've already gotten the guy in his yellow costume, his brown costume, as Weapon X and in civilian clothes (plus four more in the X-Men lines) and that's not counting the movie figures or Marvel Select. Did we really need a ninth version?

Yeah, it turns out we did.

Little is known about the man known as Logan whose past remains shrouded in mystery. The feral warrior, code-named Wolverine, possesses genetically endowed animal-keen senses of smell, sight and hearing, as well as a mutant healing factor that can mend almost any wound. His deadliest weapons are his razor-sharp, extendible claws and skeleton both made of unbreakable metal alloy called Adamantium. However, with these abilities comes a curse, a bezerker rage that he must forever struggle to control. Now Logan must contain the beast raging within while he battles to protect a world that fears and hates him!

Actually, half of that is no longer true. Marvel finally decided that enough was enough, and that it was time to give poor Logan some character growth. He now remembers everything about his past. But lest you think this is going to kill the mystery, consider this: he remembers everything. To him, the false memory implants are every bit as real as the truth, so now he needs to figure out the difference.

This Wolverine is based on his appearance in Astonishing X-Men, so he's wearing a blue and yellow costume. It's a new design, however, so it looks more like something he wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in. Rather than a yellow suit with little blue trunks, it's now the center of the body that's yellow, with blue panels down the sides. His tiger stripes are now yellow, so they stand out nicely. His boots and mask are both the same as the classic costume, but they've been toned way down so they're not as ridiculous as usual.

John Cassaday did a great job redesigning Wolverine, and the sculpt lives up to that. The most important factor is the size - he's just about 5⅝" tall, substantially smaller than the rest of the Marvel Legends. The upper arms look to be reused from Weapon X and New X-Men Wolverine, but everything else is new. His costume doesn't look like it's painted on a nude body, but seems to have actual bulk. This impression is aided by a slight texture covering the entire surface of the costume and small stitches between the colored patches. Good work, Phil Ramirez!

The figure has balljoints (or at least the combo joints that mimic the range) at the neck, shoulders, wrists and hips, double-hinged elbows and knees, pegs at the biceps, waist, thighs and boots, plus a torso hinge, rocker ankles and joints to curl his fingers into fists. Great range, all over, and none of the construction is ugly.

Astonishing Wolverine does have one pretty major flaw that's hard to overlook: his claws are too damn big. This always happens - in an effort to up the "kewl" factor, people try to make the claws bigger and badder, forgetting that they still need to fit in his forearms. With these behemoths retracted, Logan wouldn't be able to bend his elbows, let alone his wrists. Cassaday certainly didn't draw them this way, so why does the toy have them? These are the straightest claws I've ever seen on a Wolverine figure, which is a big plus; shame that they're about twice as long as they should be.

nice! Like all but one of the ML12 figures, Wolverine has a variant. Just like in Series 3, the chase version is unmasked. This time, however, there's a bit more to the variant than just a new head - thinking things through, they also sculpted his mask, pulled back and dropped across his shoulders. Quite clever. The face definitely has hints of Cassaday's artwork, though it isn't dead-on. Still, he looks just like you'd want Logan to look.

Part of the Apocalypse Series, Wolverine doesn't come with a display base, but rather a part of this set's Build-A-Figure. Since he's a little guy, Wolverine is packed with a fairly big part: Apocalypse's left leg, which is two inches taller than he is. The leg is blue, with shadows painted on quite heavily. Apoc is more like Galactus than the Sentinel, so this doesn't look like some big technological construction - it looks like a giant leg wearing a big boot. The leg moves at the knee, shin, ankle and toes, with a floating cuff attached to the ankle. The leg balances well, but who cares? It's not a stand-alone piece, so it'll only be balancing by itself for a little while.

Wolverine comes with a reprint of Astonishing X-Men #6 with the cover from #3, because it features a great iconic shot of the furry little fireplug. This story is the finale of "Gifted," the first half of Joss Whedon's initial run on the book, and Wolverine definitely gets some cool stuff to do. Whedon, of course, is the creator of Buffy, Angel and Serenity/Firefly, so the guy definitley knows how to write teams of superheroes well. The book is funny and exciting, and with the great art, there's no reason not to dig it. If you like what you read here, then be sure to pick up the tpb. It's been a long time since the X-Men were this good.

It's been a long time since Wolverine was this good, either. Brown Costume Wolverine set a really high bar, but this beats it. Forget all the rest: Astonishing Wolverine, "clown suit" and all, is the best there is.

-- 04/01/06

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