Wolverine Blues

There’s no question about it. Wolverine is a tough nut to crack. In this book alone, for example, he’s pumped full of lead, burned alive, fed to sharks, attacked by ninja, and blown to pieces. Later, he jumps out of an airplane without a parachute. Twice. “It will only slow me down,” he says.

Okay, we get it. Wolverine’s a first-class stud. He’s been alive for over one hundred years and he’s practically indestructible. He’s a living weapon who prowls the shadowy space between human and animal. Thank goodness he’s one of the good guys.

His latest assignment starts in Japan and takes him to Brazil, Austria, Russia, Nigeria, Turkey, and South Africa. But this isn’t a picaresque novel by any means. Wolverine is on a mission to save the world from a drug called panacea. This miracle drug can cure anything, “cancer, tuberculosis, and the common cold—it can cure them all. Viral, bacterial, congenital, it doesn’t matter.”

Unfortunately it has one deadly flaw. Once a patient takes panacea, he will die unless he continues taking it every day for the rest of his life. In other words, it’s sort of like food or water or Starbucks coffee. And, of course, Wolverine is 100 percent against anything that compromises personal liberty. When he learns about plans to use panacea to enslave an African nation in order to exploit its bountiful supply of crude oil, he vows to cut the drug cartel down to size with his adamantium claws.

That’s when the shooting, burning, exploding, and shark feeding begins. Wolverine and his sexy Chinese mutant sidekick are up against a powerful consortium of yakuza and super ninja. These gangsters don’t play around. Their only motive is “power for its own sake.” And panacea gives them all the power they need.

Naturally, Wolverine stops the distribution of the drug. But no one throws him a ticker tape parade or gives him a pat on the back when his mission is complete. In fact, some people are rather upset by his hubris. “Who are you to chose our fate?” asks an African woman slowly dying of illness and starvation. Panacea would have made her a slave. But so what? She’s already a slave to political upheaval, warlords, meddling foreigners, hunger, dehydration, and disease. She’s just looking for options. Wolverine’s a tough guy, all right. But when it comes to solving the problems of the world, sometimes he’s just as powerless as the rest of us.

[Wolverine: Road of Bones / By David Alan Mack / First Printing: October 2006 / ISBN: 9781416510697]

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