Spider-Man comes across a double homicide where two store owners he liked were murdered. His co-worker at the Daily Bugle, Ned Leeds, deciphers that the murders are some how connected to an ex-KGB by the name of Charlie. He convinces Jameson to send him to Germany to cover the story, and he sends Peter Parker with him. Wolverine heads to Germany as well to confront Charlie. What is in store for the two superheroes? -summary
Spider-Man and Wolverine had crossed paths on a few occasions before this time, and one thing that was clear between the two... They didn't like each other. I'm not sure if there was even a mutual respect. One thing was for sure though, comic fans were waiting for the longest to see the two really fight it out. Spider-Man was already a juggernaut in terms of popularity and Wolverine was well on his way towards the same recognition. Marvel decided to task Jim Owsley with bringing the two together in an epic clash; what he delivered was quite possibly the best confrontation between the two Marvel stars ever written. I give Brian M. Bendis a lot of credit for how he has handled the characters over the last seven years or so, but Owsley's writing was a match up made in comic heaven. Originally written in 1987, this TPB collects the entire story in a single book.
This is a magnificent story that belongs in every comic fans collection. It's very well put together from start to finish. It's rare to see an outstanding beginning capped off with an outstanding finish. Owsley's writing is too good; the inner monologue, character interactions, character development, are about as perfect as you will ever see in a comic. Spider-Man's anguish in having to take pictures of the dead bodies was genuine and not something you saw often in his own books. There's a good amount of depth with the character that brings him and everyone in his world to life; from the hug by Mary Jane in which this story takes place before their marriage, to the friendly bickering in Aunt May's house. Wolverine isn't equally awesome here, but you get a good idea on what makes him such a great character. In one segment, he passes by Peter Parker in the street and from his scent alone he learns right then that's Spider-Man.
The plot follows the two as Wolverine attempts to stop Charlie from killing more people, and Spider-Man is tagging along while Wolverine is telling him to go home because he does not belong in this world. The book has a good amount of action, suspense, drama, and it all comes together delivering a worthwhile experience. There's even a murder that takes place in this story that heavily effected the Spider-Man continuity, to be more specific, it played deep into the ongoing story of the Hobgoblin. This particular story element would be revisited in 2007 during the Hobgoblin Lives storyline, and despite this all beginning in the mid 80's; the conclusion to all of this that took place in 2007 was every bit as hard-hitting as the introduction. In the comic book world that is some serious impact, and the book earns more points for this.
Mark Brights artwork doesn't really shine until the end during Spider-Man and Wolverine's fight. The illustrations at this point feels married to the dialog; there's an artistic rhythm between art and monologue that speaks volumes to me bringing an unreal amount of depth to their struggle. I was able to feel Spider-Man's fear in this battle, as he was forced to resort to closing his eyes and relying on his spider-sense to counter Wolverine's natural killing instinct. This is easily among their best battles against anyone ever. Now I mentioned that Bright's artwork isn't very strong until the end, but I'm not saying its bad though, the narrative is just that strong through out. The character designs, their emotions, action, are done very well and certain moments work nicely towards the dramatic and even comedic effect at times.
There are plenty of comics out there this good and even better. It's just that Spider-Man vs. Wolverine ranks very high as one of my favorites. It's definitely newbie friendly since the two characters are well developed, and the strong narrative holds up even now. It even feels ahead of its time because you don't find many, or any vs. stories with this much depth. It steps all over last years X-Men vs. Avengers and that story was far longer with crossovers included. I highly recommend picking this book up if you have any interest in it at all.