Directed by Carl Upsdell
Starring Brian Drummond, Ron Halder, and Kathleen Barr
Created by Jeph Loeb (writer) and Simone Bianchi (artist)
Wolverine and Sabretooth, two mutant rivals who have been tearing into each other for decades, often literally, have perhaps their final bout. Who will be victorious: Wolverine? Sabretooth? The Audience?
Wolverine is freaked out by his fellow X-Men letting his most vicious rival Sabretooth stay at Xavier’s mansion. They quickly come to blows that start them on a globe-spanning journey, ranging from the Black Panther’s home of Wakanda to Wolverine’s native Canada. All the while, Wolverine has visions of lives he never lived and memories he never had. Strange visions of feral ancient canines and Roman gladiators begin to tie into the mysterious air surrounding the latest and possibly last savage throw down between Wolverine and Sabretooth.
Wolverine finds himself teaming up with other beastly mutants like Sasquatch, Feral, and Wolfsbane (but no Beast) as he delves deeper into his strange new memories and the mysterious figure who shows up in every one of them – a man named Romulus.
This story starts setting up the idea that some people – particularly mutants with a more canine animal-like quality to them – evolved in a different evolutionary path than typical homo sapiens or even homo superior (mutants). Instead of primates, they come from more wolf-like lineages. Because that’s JUST what the X-Men franchise needs – more speciesism.
For the actual titular premise of Wolverine Versus Sabretooth, that certainly happens a lot. The story is often broken up by their fights, almost as consistently as the annoying credit scenes they play throughout the feature. We get some brutal combat as they tear each other apart, with skin falling off in fire and reattaching separated limbs. Unfortunately the climatic conclusion at the end is not climatic at all and ends without almost any effort.
The story also doesn’t answer any of the questions that it brings up. We don’t really learn anything about the mysterious Romulus character or how he seems to have the influence he has over Wolverine or Sabretooth. This story arc is only one part of Loeb’s story, but you wouldn’t know that from how this series is presented. There’s no “part one” or “to be continued” in this. It ends, and we’re left knowing less than we did going in, and that is infuriating.
Other annoying aspects include too much recap for scenes we just saw, with Wolverine going back over things that just happened in a recent episode. Sometimes the same event more than once.
I’m fine with a good Wolverine throw down, and the animosity between him and Sabretooth set up some fun, savage combat, but it’s broken up by a story that I can’t seem to care about. Wolverine shouldn’t have hidden memories at this point in comics after the House of M storyline, so revisiting that trope is reaching for some depth in a story that should have just been a fun action romp.
The Video and Audio
The video in this is a testament to Simone Bianche’s skill as a very detailed artist, with much of the art looking like dedicated paintings. Thanks to his attention to detail, the art holds up remarkably well in motion, although the actual motion and some of the cuts are still awkward and cheap looking. The audio is clear enough. Unfortunately it’s sometimes difficult to tell what is spoken dialog and what is internal monologue, thanks to the limited mouth movement of the motion comic medium. And Wolverine talks a lot both to people and in his head in this.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This one disc set comes in a flimsy cardboard case and includes one 20-minute behind-the-scenes bonus feature with comic writer Jeph Loeb and artist Simone Bianchi. The striking thing about this feature is how much of what happens after this DVD that it covers, such as the return of Sabretooth and more about the Romulus plot line. It’s not just that they talk about it, but there are actual motion comic scenes, voice acted, that are included for essentially the next arc of this story. The actors doing these voices are even credited in the end credits of the main feature, including those for characters Cloak and Dagger, who aren’t even in this main feature. It’s oddly revealing and also confusing, making me think I missed scenes. In addition to that, I don’t feel more informed about the main story, or that I learned anything interesting.
Overall (Not an Average)
Wolverine and Sabretooth walk into this DVD, and neither particularly come out on top. A story I couldn’t care about muddies up the prize fight, which has a lackluster finale and doesn’t wrap anything up anyway. We’ll probably get the next arc sometime soon, so hopefully it won’t be as disappointing.