His memory erased and his identity shattered, Wolverine finds himself a patient at the Dunwich Sanatorium. Under the care of Dr. Rotwell, Wolverine is tortured by the sadistic guards routinely as part of his ongoing therapy to bring forth, and purge, his inner darkness. The mind games played out against Wolverine are, of course, part of a larger plan, as Rotwell is not quite what he seems.
Writing in a tone of old horror comics, like Tales from the Crypt or an episode of The Twilight Zone, Jason Aaron serves up a gory story of crazed medical experiments where the cure is worse than the disease. It's a particularly fitting story for Wolverine, who has had his brain messed with so many times.
"I've been brainwashed more times than I can count. I've been a plaything for mutant telepaths. I've been mindwiped and programmed to kill," he recalls halfway through the story. "But I'm not insane."
It's a lament he is forced to remind himself of as he deals with the craziness surrounding him within Dunwich.
Hospitals and psychiatric wards have long been fodder for horror stories, and Aaron works the genre into his Wolverine series nicely. Yanick Paquette's pencils are functional and his framing serves the story well. Wolverine is often depicted from above or below, and rarely in a dead-on level fashion, to remind us that he is constantly under observation within Dunwich. The panels are drawn in angles and slashes, sometimes overlapping or unevenly spaced to show the gaps between. It's a fittingly fractured presentation.
Insane in the Brain was originally published as issues 6 through 9, Aaron's second story arc, of the Wolverine: Weapon X comic book series. For the trade, Marvel has also included issue 10 to help bolster the page count, but it's an odd addition to this trade and so thematically different from the chapters that preceded it that it feels jarring and ill-placed.
The final chapter details Wolverine's acceptance that he's falling in love with a reporter and is penciled by C.P. Smith, in a style so radically different from Paquette's earlier chapters that it's almost a visual assault. While there is nothing truly wrong with Smith's art, his work here, like the tone of this individual story, is just so radically different from what came before that it provides more disruption to the trade collection than it does any sense of closure to the overall story. Aaron's writing is terrific though, and there are some really good moments, even a few laughs, throughout the closing segment as Wolverine opens himself up to a new woman.
Reviewed by Michael Hicks on July 21, 2010
Wolverine: Weapon X, Vol. 2: Insane in the Brain