The Wolverine Files

Review by KC Carlson

Apparently lost in the flood of Wolverine product that accompanied the theatrical release of the Wolverine film last May, The Wolverine Files is actually a pretty fine overview 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 cover
The Wolverine Files
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Creatively written by longtime comics pro Mike W. Barr (Camelot 3000, Batman and the Outsiders, The Maze Agency), The Wolverine Files is presented as the official S.H.I.E.L.D. dossier on Wolverine, with documents and interview transcriptions (frequently redacted). That allows Barr the opportunity to write in a number of different character “voices”, including Natasha Romanova (Black Widow), Dr. Walter Langkowski (Sasquatch of Alpha Flight), Dr. Hank McCoy (The Beast), several notable S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (including Clay Quartermain, Jimmy Woo, and Jasper Sitwell), and various CIA or S.W.O.R.D. witnesses to the more important events of Logan’s very long life. A number of different media — including classified documents, handwritten notes, and blueprints and diagrams — are included. And the files are heavily illustrated with artwork and reprinted panels from the original comics to hammer home the points made in the text.

The Files are broken down into broad categories: Origins (eyewitness accounts of the early life of James Howlett and of the Weapon X program), History (remarkable accounts of Wolverine sightings at key points over the last century), Territories (Canada, Madripoor, Tokyo, and others), Allies (various team memberships and relationships with Captain America, The Hulk, and Ka-Zar), The Women in His Life (including Jean Gray, Kitty Pryde, Jubliation Lee, Silver Fox, Lady Mariko Yashida, and more), Enemies (Sabertooth, Magneto, Ogun, Silver Samurai, Viper, and others), as well as small sections on Wolverine’s adventures in Time and Space and Alternate Realities.

The Files are enhanced by comments throughout by Nick Fury himself. Fury, a longtime associate of Wolverine (since WW II), knows exactly when his agents are BS-ing him about Logan’s history, and he ain’t shy in telling ‘em so! My only — infinitesimal — nitpick about Fury’s presence here is that over in the current MU, he hasn’t been involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. for a number of years. I don’t care — he’s my favorite Marvel character!

The production quality of the book is very high and the graphics especially are well chosen and large. The design of the book is pretty bland, but it does look like a file, so at least it’s accurate. A bound-in string-closed file is filled with “secret” stuff — including reproductions of a signed Dave Cockrum sketch of Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Colossus; a Wolverine sketch by Tim Townsend; X-Men Vol. 2 #100 and #112 cover sketches by Cockrum; a signed Wolverine sketch by Cockrum; and early costume sketches by John Romita. These are quite cool and help to explain the cover price of the book.

Much less impressive is the slipcover for the hardcover book. Despite its great design and die-cut claw marks, the slipcase is one of the flimsiest I’ve ever seen. It offers very little in the way of protection for the book, and it has to be carefully handled or it will tear because of the huge die-cuts. Despite this, The Wolverine Files is still a fine overview of one of the most popular (and complicated) characters in comics, and worth seeking out. (Or as a great easy-to-find item for your Christmas want list!)

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

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