There’s a conflict at the very heart of the latest Wolverine series. The book is going to great lengths to stress its importance; not only has the title character lost his healing factor as of #6, but the Watcher has popped up on a couple of occasions, and naming stories “Mortal” and “Killable” carries obvious weight. Yet while the series has shaken up the status quo in a big way, it seems inconceivable that the end result these changes seem to be pointing toward - the death of Wolverine - will take place within its pages. Were it to happen, such a headline-grabbing development would be reserved for a line-wide Marvel event.
Rather than letting that hinder them, in Wolverine #7 the creators use it to their advantage. With Logan’s healing factor shut down by an intelligent virus from the Multiverse, this issue looks at the consequences from a smaller, more personal perspective. Without his mutant power, everything from popping his claws to shaving is fraught with the potential for injury; Wolverine can’t even hold his drink like he used to. Meanwhile the villains’ plot is furthered, as they target individuals with the power to control viruses in a bid to eliminate any threats to their agenda.
Forgoing the gruff, brutish stereotype to offer a more contemplative take, Paul Cornell is choosing to emphasize elements of Wolverine’s personality that are usually ignored. Throughout the series he has focused on what makes Logan vulnerable, such as his struggle to reconcile the unique code of honor he’s fashioned for himself with the violent tendencies that have plagued him for most his life. With the loss of his healing factor, what was previously subtext is pushed to the foreground, and it’s clear that Cornell has something original to say about the character.
On art, penciler Mirco Pierfederici, inker Karl Kesel, and colorist Andres Mossa work hard to maintain the style and tone established by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, and Matt Hollingsworth in the first four issues. They do a good job conveying emotion, which is crucial given the nature of the story; a scene with a disconsolate Logan visiting the monument erected in memory of Nightcrawler is particularly striking, with the sense of finality subtly underscored (or subverted) by the use of autumnal colors that could symbolize either death or rebirth.
The series has taken time to find its feet, but this is an impressive issue, and one with a powerful message: with or without his mutant power, underneath it all the Wolverine is as human as the rest of us.