Wolverine: The Long Night #1 // Review
In September of 2018, Marvel New Media and on-demand internet radio station, Stitcher, released the audio drama Wolverine: The Long Night. The podcast was a fairly engrossing 10-part series which was successful enough to warrant a second season. In November of 2018 it was announced that Wolverine: The Lost Trail was in production. Prior to the release of the new season, Marvel has developed a comic book adaptation of the original radio play. Wolverine: The Long Night comic book is written by Benjamin Percy, who also wrote the podcast. Art is handled by Marcio Takara, with color by Matt Milla.
Federal Agents Sally Pierce and Tad Marshall come to the small, moody town of Burns, Alaska to investigate a multiple homicide. The victims died from blunt force trauma accompanied by lacerations and piercings that would seem to be consistent with attacks by a certain hirsute, diminutive Canadian mutant... To Percy’s credit, all mention of the titular character seeps in around the edges of a very slow and moody investigation.
Benjamin Percy delivers a police procedural to the page in a way that feels like it was born in comic book format, rather than adapted from another medium. Dialogue feels a bit crisper on the page than it does breathed into a pair of headphones. The visual pacing of this particular police procedural - with suits, ties and stern faces in the chill of Alaska, lends a bit more atmosphere than the podcast was able to render with sound alone. Percy’s comic stands quite well on its own.
Marcio Takara is given a hell of a challenge with this one. The impressive visuals of the Alaskan wilderness need to be balanced against the subtle human drama of people investigating murder in tiny, little places. Sadly, we don’t get breathtaking views that establish the unique look and feel of Alaska, but Takara’s landscapes look absolutely beautiful in the background as Pierce and Marshall investigate in the foreground. Heavy inking draws murky shadows over the unfolding mystery as witnesses are interviewed. Takara finds a variety of ways to deliver what could have easily been very dull stretches of dialogue pasted over a few big panels. The opening page features a local witness interviewed in an expressive 9-panel grid that launches into the inky blackness of an evening naval horror. The story then shifts its way into a series of narratives delivered through an interesting ensemble of characters. All these personalities feel very distinct without looking dramatically different. It’s a delicate balance that Takara executes extremely well through very thoughtfully-composed panels.
Matt Milla is given a lot of space in which to work. Takara seems to have a tremendous amount of trust in Milla’s ability to fill-in the depth between the lines and blocks of shadow. That trust is not misplaced. Milla’s colors are muted AND dynamic, delivering a washed-out depth to the story’s slow and steady pulse.
Whether it’s there to promote the podcast or to capitalize on its success, the comic book adaptation of The Long Night seems to be off on the right foot in its opening chapter. The mood and tone are captured with an admirably clean and simple energy. Time will tell if the comic book series can keep up with what it managed to accomplish in the first issue.