Wolverine #32

Story Title: Prisoner Number Zero
Reviewer: Paul Sebert

Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Kaare Andrews
Colorist: Jose Villarubia
Letterer: VC’s Randy Gentile
Editor: Axel Alonso, Joe Quesada
Publisher: The House Stan & Jack Built

This is not a Wolverine story…

I just thought I’d get this out of the way. I’m not saying it’s a bad issue, just if you’re looking for more of the same over-the-top action Millar delivered in “Enemy of the State” and “Agent of SHIELD” you’ve come to the wrong place. This is a much more down to earth story, in which Logan isn’t even the main focus so much as a catalyst thrown into an already violent situation.

The plot is set during the waning days of World War II, the commandant in charge of a death camp has committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. A new officer by the name of Bauman has been appointed in charge of the prison, but he faces a roadblock in the form of a prisoner who refuses to die.

A writer setting a story set during a real life crisis, particularly in the shadow of the Holocaust. While the superhero genre has a long connection with World War II, Millar could have easily caused this issue to turn offensive or just flat-out ridiculous (like the infamous “Sinister’s List” issue of Frank Tieri’s Weapon X.) Thankfully Millar avoids the mistake of having Logan popping out his claws, calling people “bub,” and running amuck as most of his actions are left off camera. What we do see is an interesting peering into the Nazi mindset as Bauman makes a number of intellectual attempts to distance himself from the brutality he perpetuates. There’s a piece of narration in which Baumen states that he’s doing what must be done for German national security, and while Millar’s point isn’t subtle it’s not unfounded and rather chilling when you really think about it.

Interestingly enough Marvel released two different versions of this issue. One is in color, while the variant is printed in simple black & white. While Jose Villarubia is a talented colorist, the nature of the story combined with Kaare Andrews stark use of pencils and inks make it better suited for black & white. Both versions of the book include an essay by Mark Millar telling a story about how a discussion with the late great Will Eisner helped shape the tale.