Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon

Review by KC Carlson

… or as I call it: Wolverine: The Bloody Red Book, as it appears that the entire book has been dipped in a giant vat of blood. Virtually everything about the outside of book is RED – including the edges of the pages! And it’s probably leftover KISS blood at that – those Marvel guys don’t like to waste anything! So subtle!

Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon cover
Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon
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Besides, doesn’t “Inside the World of the Living Weapon” sound like a boring science textbook or a guidebook to a long abandoned Disneyworld Tomorrowland ride? “Can you feel the tingle as your DNA is removed and injected directly into that intercontinental ballistic missile?” asks the Lee Majors Audio-Animatronic.

Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon (sigh) is the brand new guidebook to Marvel’s most popular mutant. And, hey! Isn’t there a new Wolverine movie out really soon? (Good thing too! I think everybody’s done talking about Watchmen.) It’s written by Matthew Manning, writer of many kids’ comics (yay!) for Marvel and DC, as well as contributing to several Marvel-oriented DK publications, the most recent of which is Marvel Chronicle. This new Wolverine tome “reveals, explores, and explains every fascinating twist and turn in the Wolverine story: his mysterious origin (a secret for decades), his incredible powers, significant adventures, personal struggles, and profiles of his lovers, allies, and enemies” according to DK spokestypist P. R. Release.

Although I think if this book could talk, it would say: “I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn’t always very organized.”

Carrying on the frustrating DK tradition of thinking being “in your face” (what hath Wizard wrought?) is more important than presenting complicated material in a logical, organized manner, the presentation of the book is all over the place. The first 40 pages or so of the book are filled with copycat Wizardesque filler material like “5 Things You Should Know About Wolverine,” “Wolverine Style,” “5 of Wolverine’s Unbelievable Battles”, “Wolverine In Love”, and “Friends and Allies”. A lot of this information is repeated later in the book, usually in more detail, in the meatier history sections, which are a lot more informative than the list-y introductory matter.

On the plus side, at least DK’s design team has calmed down a bit, as the puzzle factor of many of their books (as in “um… what paragraph do I read next?”) is much reduced here. I still have to quibble with the continued use of teeny, tiny, itty, bitty type (8 pt. or less) especially when it’s reversed out against black. It’s not a frikkin’ CD booklet! You’ve got plenty of room! Whatever happened to design helping to communicate ideas instead of getting in their way?

One you get past these annoyances, this is a great little reference book, quite handy for a character like Wolverine whose history has been presented in dribs and drabs for the last 35 years in an ever-increasing number of books. I especially found the Timeline section informative and invaluable. Plus, there is special emphasis on Wolverine’s adventures beyond his usual mutant books: his roles in the Avengers and in mega-stories like Civil War, House of M, and Secret Invasion are well-presented.

Manning’s research is well done. However, some of his writing tries a little too hard and relies a bit too much on current “comicspeak”. Like this groaner in the World War II section: “His life was already a battlefield. The war only made it official.” My advice: look for inspiration and new writing rhythms outside of comics.

I also like the more compact format of the book (9″ x 10 3/4″) over the slightly unwieldy larger previous volumes in the Ultimate Guide series. More pages (200 total here) have been added to compensate for the slightly smaller size.

Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon is, with some minor misgivings, another great DK reference book, covering every aspect of Wolverine that you could ever think of. Except Hugh Jackman. Hmmmm.

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

3 Responses to “Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon”

  1. Reading Over Shoulders Says:

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    […] of Wolverine and his long and twisted history, and it is much better written than many of the similar books released around that time. The Wolverine Files […]

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