Never Say Die: Wolverine Weapon X #16 [Review]
There's a flashback in issue 16 of "Wolverine Weapon X," where, sitting by the grave of Jean Grey, Nightcrawler consoles a mourning Logan by telling him "But trust me, we will see her again." This one-shot is an examination of Logan's grieving process for his recently deceased friend Kurt Wagner, one that explores the contrast between Kurt's religious faith and Logan's lack thereof, so that line could be read as Kurt referencing the afterlife to reassure his friend. On the other hand these are superheroes we're talking about, and that Logan and Nightcrawler are most certainly going to see Jean Grey again once the two currently dead characters I mentioned are inevitably resurrected.
"Wolverine Weapon X" #16 is yet another example of a problem common to superhero books. Writers see the potential in telling a story about someone dealing with the death of a friend, family member or loved one because it is a powerful experience we all will share at some point in our own lives. But the reality of the rules in the shared narrative in which these characters exist always blunts the impact on the audience.Aaron's effort makes me feel particularly conflicted because if you're able to suspend your disbelief and imagine that Logan actually never will see a living, breathing Kurt Wagner again then this is a good story that can be enjoyed as a tale of a man struggling to find a way to say goodbye. It's odd that it's so hard for me to suspend my disbelief on a matter like that when I have such an easy time accepting so many other things that superhero books ask me to accept in order for the stories they tell to work. But it evokes a special kind of brain-hurting, one that is not unique to comic fans but is a far more common affliction to us than it is to fans of other forms of entertainment.
I look at Wolverine being so sad about the loss of his friend and can't help but think about the fact that, back in issue 11 of this very series, he went on an international bar-hopping adventure with another best friend who he'd been mourning for not so long ago. Or the fact that this was far from the first dead friend to return to life on him. When you're living in a Universe where Cypher the walking Google Translate program makes routine stops to the grave and back, all bets are pretty much off.
Then when Kurt and Logan debate the existence of an afterlife and Logan takes the negative position, I can't help but think that he is at the very least acquainted with other superheroes who've visited variations on the afterlife themselves. And all of this spirals off into even stranger speculations on my part.
When Kurt makes a request in his will that Logan transport a $20,000 grand piano to a mountaintop church in Venezuela, I can't help but wonder, well, that must be a pretty nice piano, what happens if Kurt wants it back when he comes back to life? Is there some sort of implicit understanding in the Marvel Universe that when people return from the grave all the stuff they bequeathed in their wills reverts back to them, or is there some kind of resurrection no-backsies rule?
If someone who was married dies and comes back, do they have to re-marry or does the first marriage still count? Do they owe back taxes for the time when they were dead? Child support? Are there lawyers in the Marvel Universe who specialize in handling these sorts of matters? And while my thought processes are distracted with all these not-all-that-important questions, I'm just not able to reconcile the way these characters are acting with what I know to be their past experiences with similar situations. The fact that Wolverine takes a stealth aircraft into Venezuela so he can attach hover jets to a grand piano and climb a mountain with it syncs up with my expectation of how the Marvel Universe operates. The fact that these characters act as though death is a permanent fate does not.
It's an adequate but not ideal end to Aaron's run on "Wolverine Weapon X", which reduces its name to simply "Wolverine" and begins with issue number one again as Wolverine makes his own visit to the afterlife and goes to hell beginning in September. I do hope that Aaron is using the concepts of faith introduced in this issue to prepare for that story arc, but it remains to be seen whether that's the case or not. A related thought, though, is that whatever writer eventually gets handed the "Nightcrawler comes back from the dead" assignment is going to have a great opportunity to tell a story examining how Kurt's faith is affected by his death and return to life. And given how well Jason Aaron handles the conversations on religion between Logan and Kurt here, he'd be a good choice to handle that book once the day comes to write it.