No one wants to hear Deadpool sing Sweet Caroline
Back in the ol' reviewing chair! Actually this is just my normal chair at which I always sit, but for the purposes of this review, it shall be the reviewing chair. So Wolverine #5.1 - the perfect jumping on point! Or at least that's how it's been marketed. Is this true? Can Jason Aaron write a birthday party? And is that cover remotely indicative of the content of this issue? We shall see, gentle readers.
First off, this takes place directly after the overly long Wolverine Goes To Hell arc that spanned issues #1-5, but actually has very little to do with it. Actually, it's a pretty decent stand-alone issue. We begin with Wolverine just going about his business, solving a mystery, riding a motorcycle in the snow. Whilst this is happening, is girlfriend Melita from the Weapon X series organises a birthday party. This is a fun premise; it's not that often you get to see birthday parties in comics (one fond birthday issue is the Nightcrawler's Inferno X-Men Annual where Logan gives Kurt a framed picture of himself, resulting in hilarity and slash fiction, but I digress...). Being a party, Aaron has managed to squeeze in as many humorous cameos as possible, which is light and refreshing amidst all the doom and gloom of the Hell issues. This issue really serves as a breather between arcs and is more than welcome. There are nice character interactions between Melita and the superheroes, setting up a divide that'll probably be drawn on later in the series. Also there is drunken Deadpool singing, which is terrifying yet hilarious. All in all the writing is nice and fun.
Later on we get introduced to the Buzzard Brothers, who are like reject members of the Gein clan. Cannibals basically. These guys are pretty much big, dumb, hairy dudes who enjoy eating people and use their bones as tools and shooting implements. I must admit, this is not particularly original. But remember back in the last arc of the Weapon X series where Aaron basically rewrote Old Man Logan in the land of Terminator? I get the feeling that this is pretty much his shtick. This basically comes down to personal preference, but I like me some good intertextual references and it's not too distracting so I'd say it's acceptable. Plus, when the dialogue is as good as Aaron's is, I think that pretty much balances out the whole, uh, intertexually inspired aspect of it all. So like I said, the Brothers look like they just walked out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the thing that struck me most is the bone-gun, which felt like it was lifted from the bizarre David Croenenberg film eXistenZ, wherein Jude Law gets this gun made of bones and cartilage that shoots teeth. What a weird movie! Also, either Aaron genuinely hasn't seen the film and happened to make it up just like in the film, or he has an appreciation for rather strange sci-fi movies. Either way, I thought it was a nice touch. It looks like these Buzzard Brothers are going to be relevant in coming issues, and I'm not sure how great an idea that might be seeing as they're really rather gimmicky characters, but we'll see.
Art-wise, this issue is perfectly pleasant. Jefte Palo is good at rendering decent facial expressions and the pages have a nice weathered appearance. The cover by Paolo Rivera, however, is bland and uninspiring and it would have been nicer to see something a bit more indicative of the feel of the issue. So, the final question is, is this a good issue for new readers? Not really - the characters are all well-established and some of the references will go straight over a new reader's head. So it loses a star for not doing what it says on the can. Otherwise, spot-on issue.