The Wolverine Files
Mike W. Barr
160 pp. Pocket. $40.00
Pub. Date: 4/14/2009
Reviewed by Paul Stotts
The most fearsome sound in the world of comics. The sound of impending death, of gross bodily violence, of severed limbs, shattered bones and crushed arteries. The sound of Wolverine, adamantium claws bursting forth—like a set of dyslexic IV needles—from the back of his hands. A character so larger-than-life, so legendary, he has his own onomatopoeia. How many people can claim that?
Wolverine’s had a long and colorful history in the Marvel universe, stretching back to his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk in 1974. That’s thirty-five years of thrilling adventures and world-saving heroics featuring everyone’s favorite Canadian superhero, the maple-leaf mutant. Thirty-five years of back story, of twists and turns, of lovers and arch-enemies, of what ifs, alternate realities and interstellar butt-kickings. A staggering amount of information, enough to fill a library with leaning mounds of books haphazardly stacked from floor to ceiling, a befuddled librarian in the corner muttering about Dewey decimal numbers. So much information to digest, to comprehend. Maybe too much. If only it could be condensed, summarized. And celebrated. Like an episode of Biography. Wolverine—this is your life.
Enter The Wolverine Files, a handy-dandy compendium authored by Mike W. Barr which tackles the enormous task of collecting the entire Wolverine mythology and documenting it in one place. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Wolverine’s fictional life, now at your fingertips, thoroughly researched and easily accessible, presented in a beautiful coffee table edition.
And that’s the first thing you’ll notice about The Wolverine Files—how absolutely stunning the book looks. It’s a gorgeous, high-quality volume, complete with a cardboard slipcase ravaged by faux claw marks. It’s a book built to last. And impress, making for a nice conversation piece for any comic geek’s mantle. (You do have a comic geek mantle, right?)
The layout of the book mimics a SHIELD top-secret dossier, with ten sections, each covering a piece of the Wolverine puzzle. One section details Wolverine’s history, another focuses on his origin, others tackle various topics like the women in his life, his friends, enemies, interstellar adventures, and any alternate timelines involving him. It’s vastly effective as an informational repository, a Wolverine data warehouse, a one mutant encyclopedia.
But unlike a stuffy old encyclopedia, this one’s filled with oodles of great art covering Wolvie’s thirty-five year history in the Marvel Universe. Reproduced on high-quality, glossy paper, the visuals pop, bright and colorful, never looking better. This is how comic artwork was meant to be presented. And celebrated. Big. Vibrant. Dynamic. None of that cheap newspaper print—with the dull and bleeding colors—making even the best pencils look like Rhesus monkey cave drawings.
The Wolverine Files will make the fanboys happy. And that’s the real audience here; the guys and girls addicted to Wolverine, the ones who can never get enough of the adamantium-laced superhero. Who need to know everything. Well Wolverine fans—here’s everything.
Final Grade: 85 out of 100