Home Video Hovel: Wolverine versus Sabretooth Reborn, by Tyler Smith
The conclusion that I’ve come to after reviewing several Marvel Knights motion comics is that I’ve been away from comic books too long. I think it’s entirely possible that the medium has changed in the time that I’ve been away. There used to be a certain kind of dependability- and maybe even simplicity- to comic books. Of course, certain character mythologies could get a bit complicated, but it didn’t change the nature of the characters themselves. But, in watching the latest motion comic, Wolverine versus Sabretooth Reborn, I’ve come to view comic books as soap operas.
My reason for thinking this is because comic books are always ongoing. If a specific character or team is successful, there’s no reason to ever stop producing stories about them. However, the problem with this is that things can get repetitive. Writers need to change characters and worlds in order to keep things from getting stale.
This is all very understandable and undoubtedly a necessary evil of the art form. And if the character changes are organic and earned, I’m all for it. It can be exciting for a villain to slowly find his humanity or for a hero to devolve into cynicism and selfishness. But, in the motion comics that I’ve watched, the writers approach the characters of Wolverine and Sabretooth as so malleable that I feel like I didn’t even know whom I was watching.
The story picks up where the last Wolverine versus Sabretooth left off, with a seemingly unstoppable villain named Romulus revealing his evil plan to make an army of Wolverine-type clones. As it turns out, this was the true goal of the original Weapon X project. And, in a stunning twist, it turns out that Wolverine- long under the impression that he had been an unwilling participant in the project- was one of its chief architects.
And so we have yet another revelation about Wolverine’s past, meant to shock audiences who previously thought they knew all there was to know about the character. It’s not a bad twist, strictly speaking. The idea that a tragic hero was behind his own misery the whole time is intriguing. It reminded me of the twist in Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall, except that seemed to have actual stakes to it.
The reason that Wolverine versus Sabretooth Reborn never really finds its legs is that I know it’s only a matter of time before some new revelation comes along to negate this one. In the previous installment, it was suggested that both Wolverine and Sabretooth are from a different evolutionary chain and have been at war with each other in some genetic form throughout the centuries.
Again, kind of a neat idea, but one that is so quickly discarded in this story that I feel like my time was retroactively wasted. That’s the problem with this kind of storytelling: the writers need to surprise the audience with new information, but never stray too far from what people love about the character. That’s a fine line to walk, and one that is virtually impossible to achieve without damaging the dynamic integrity of the character. By making Wolverine capable of literally anything, they essentially make the character stand for virtually nothing.
Is he a noble character? It would appear so, but if the revelations in this story are to be believed, his nobility isn’t inherent. It’s something that came about only after he came out of the Weapon X project. Having a character that is capable of being a hero or a villain can be exciting, but, if not handled correctly, it just starts to look like the character is a puppet in the hand of whomever is writing for him at the moment.
This is not a good way to get us invested in Wolverine. It cheapens him, and eventually starts to seem like a cynical ploy to excite readers and keep the money pouring in. I’m okay with wanting to engage your readership- and even to make money- but I also believe that the writers have a responsibility to the characters and their readers to not slap together new stories so haphazardly.