If I haven’t said it somewhere at Multiversity Comics before now, let me officially pronounce Spider-Man as my favorite character in comics. Let the record further show that Wolverine as written by Jason Aaron (specifically Jason Aaron) is another one of my favorite characters. Let the record further show that I freaking love comic books that deal with extreme time travel, crazy concepts that throw heroes against incredibly impossible odds, and gigantic living planets, dinosaurs, Spider-Man with a beard, and bullets with unfathomable mystical powers inside (yes, Jason Aaron can also do Grant Morrison-level crazy).
Is it any wonder that I absolutely love “Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine”?
A little disclaimer right off the bat: To try to figure out the significance of this miniseries to the greater Marvel timeline could potentially drive you crazy. These 6 issues, themselves, are batshit crazy. The “Astonishing” line seems to be all about writing stories that don’t have to make sense with anything else and can take whatever they want from the characters that they’re using. This is the ultimate in “just go with it” comic books and the experience will be so much better if you adhere to that. All that stuff that I listed in the introduction happens in this story and though it seems unlikely, they are woven together so uniquely by the mechanics of a ridiculous villainous plot that I dare not spoil here. Things happen in these 6 issues that the characters would likely remember and be affected by for the longterm, but don’t count on that actually ever happening in the ongoing 616 universe. (Although, Aaron has said that “Dog Logan” (Wolvie’s brother) will be making an appearance in future “Wolverine and the X-Men” issues and that the storyline will be spinning out from this miniseries. Again, just go with it.)
For the last several years, Wolverine has been Jason Aaron’s signature character. He’s put him through the ringer, nailing the grit and brutality of the character, in his solo book and explored the leadership qualities and comic releif that can be pulled from having a gruff Canadian brawler as the headmaster of a school for teenage mutants. He’s a character that can work no matter how serious or how wacky the writer decides to go with things and Aaron shows a mastery of that better than any other Wolverine writer. In this very story, he takes Wolverine all the way across that very spectrum, at times.
Now, on the subject of Spider-Man: let me hereby propose that as soon as Dan Slott decides he’s done with the character, Marvel should back the truck up to Jason Aaron’s house and allow him to own that character for a while too. He’s got Spidey’s voice down pat. The banter is funny and there are more priceless “buddy-cop” moments with Wolverine than you can shake a time-traveling-diamond-encrusted stick at. Plus there is some really cool moments of respect that develops between the two of them. The 6 issue pseudo-journey of the characters through thousands of years time changes them in significant ways and there is a sense of real lived-in history between the two of them.
Both characters are also brilliantly reduced to the core of their character traits. Even in ancient times, Peter plays the role of the ever-curious scientist – looking to the stars to find the answers. Meanwhile, Wolverine is distilled to a raw, caveman-esque warrior king. We never spend too much time in one place for the treatment of these characters to feel redundant or rote. Instead, Aaron whisks them on to the next unlikely threat or wacky setting (like an intergalactic reality television set. No really. Don’t worry – it’s awesome). It even gets surprisingly melancholy at the end. Though it was only a miniseries, there are elements in the conclusion that make it feel like you’re leaving a long-running series after 60 issues’ time.
Adam Kubert’s art is terrifically detailed and handsome throughout. I love his bearded Peter Parker most of all. Peter needs to bring the beard back someday. Kubert handles whatever Aaron throws at him, and trust me, that’s a lot. There’s a short list of people you would trust to handle intimate character moments, melancholy, and gigantic villain-shaped planets – Adam Kubert is definitely one of them. Observe the glory:
At the end of the day, isn’t this what comic books themselves are all about? In six short issues, Spider-Man and Wolverine go from one end of the universe to the other and everything along the way is unforgettable. When it comes to Wolverine, Spider-Man, and taking the reader to impossible places – Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert are the best at what they do.
The mini is available in paperback and hardcover. Either way, it’s one that I absolutely treasure in my collection and a story that I love completely and totally. Check it out!