Writer: Mariko Tamaki // Artist: Butch Guice & Mack Chater // Publisher: Marvel
“I’ll tell you what it is. It’s some Zombie &%$#@#$%.”
So Much for Teamwork . . .
In the debut issue of the “Claws of a Killer” mini-series, Lady Deathstrike rallies Logan’s son, Daken, and Sabretooth to find the resurrected Wolverine. Using intel from her Reaver associates, Deathstrike pinpoints Wolverine’s signal to a desert town in Arizona. Unbeknownst to her, however, the town and its inhabitants are the subjects of an experiment that turns them into zombies. Arrogant and narcissistic as usual, Daken and Sabretooth immediately go off on their own, setting the stage for an ambush. Sabretooth eventually rejoins Deathstrike after a surviving a random car bomb explosion, but they fare no better together than they did alone. Daken, meanwhile, finds himself the prisoner of the militaristic unit secretly occupying the town. As their healing factors are suddenly rendered useless, the three Adamantium-laced mutants find themselves trapped in Zombieland.
Understandably, the first issue of this mini-series was an easy setup to introduce the characters, lay the conflict, and plant some seeds of mystery. Effective, yes, albeit not so compelling. The first instalment gets a pass for having to lay the groundwork. This issue, on the other hand, offers nothing emotionally, visually, or narratively that is interesting enough to feel that this series is vital amongst the other “Hunt for Wolverine” titles. A lack of urgency, importance, and the addition of zombies make the story feel like four issues of filler material. In its favor, however, the artwork by Guice and Chater alternates between asymmetric and symmetric panel breakdowns, creating an undercurrent of tension that helps push things along.
As an exercise in the horror genre with the X-Men and mutant diaspora, “Claws of a Killer” has some potential. Writer Mariko Tamaki adeptly weaves recognizable tropes of the horror genre into the story – ominous deserted town, clandestine paramilitary testing, and the time honored tradition of characters getting attacked because they refuse to work together. While the plot leaves something to be desired, the mood of the series hints at a larger revelation at play.
Daken, Deathstrike, and Sabretooth fit nicely into this “28 Days Later” meets “Freddy Kreuger’s Extended Family” concept, but they read more as one-note stereotypes of themselves rather than fully-realized characters. Underneath the distracting plot of zombies lies a darker, more compelling story about the three turbulent allies trying to outmanoeuvre one another in order to have the sole pleasure of gutting Logan for themselves. That would be a series worth reading for four months on end.
Two more floppies left in this series still. Let’s hope that the final issues deliver something more than the living undead to make the series worthwhile.
Rating: 5 out of 10 Adamantium Manicures