James Howlett/Logan/The Wolverine has one of the most convoluted origin stories of any superhero ever created. I've followed the character myself, for several years in fact, and I still have some trouble keeping all the events and facts of his early life, early superhero days, and current villains (who are old villains of his from his days as Howlett or Logan) straight. Eschewing most of the minutiae of Logan/Wolverine's character's origin and instead focusing on the key events that introduced him to the Marvel Universe, while smartly referencing the now legendary Barry Windsor Smith drawn Weapon X storyline, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, along with artists Salva Espin, Cam Smith, and Jim Charalampidis, assemble the most accessible, fun to read, and clear cut origin story of perhaps the most popular mutant superhero of all time with Wolverine Season One.
Opening just before the events of The Incredible Hulk #181, Wolverine Season One recounts Wolverine's first battle with The Wendigo, which occurs some unspecified time after Logan's escape from the Weapon X program and during the time he lived a feral existence in the Canadian wilds, which leads to his first meeting with James and Heather Hudson of Canada's Department H (sort of a Canadian version of Weapon X and SHIELD all rolled into one). Near mortally wounded in the battle, Logan is nursed back to health by Heather and James and quickly forms a bond with the firey red headed Heather that foreshadows many of Logan's future failed romances (an event that his character has experienced over and over). Eventually overcoming his feral tendencies, with the help of Heather's training, Logan becomes the costumed superhero The Wolverine and is sent on a mission to keep The Hulk from entering Canadian territory. Shortly thereafter, Logan has a run in with Victor Creed, patches up his relationship with James Hudson, continues to be a close friend of Heather's, and finally meets Professor Charles Xavier. The rest...well, as they say, is history.
Managing to drop intriguing tidbits of the many, many other Wolverine origin stories (or more accurately chapters of the story) published over the years, but never loosing the new reader, Wolverine Season One is easily the most accessible and smooth reading Wolverine origin story ever. Writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker accomplish this feat of streamlined storytelling perfectly. Not only do they collapse everything that one needs to know about Wolverine's beginnings into a series of clear events, they infuse Wolverine Season One with a great understanding of the heroic, yet troubled, character of Logan/Wolverine. Herein lies the greatest strength of Acker and Blacker's storytelling skills. Not only do you get a solid origin story, you get a solid characterization of its protagonist. A characterization that has you rooting for him throughout the story.
Salva Espin and Cam Smith's excellent art effectively captures the many different looks that Logan/Wolverine displays (and displayed) over his existence. From the early costume that he first wore in The Incredible Hulk #181 to his more modern look, as well as his feral and Weapon X look, are all beautifully rendered with smart, eye catching detail. Every once in a while, the facial expressions of the characters appear a bit too emotive and cartoonish, and a few times Logan looks almost like a Hobbit (complete with huge Hobbit-like feet). For the most part though, the quality of the art matches the quality of the story panel for panel.
Overall, Wolverine Season One is a standout edition of a really great string of books that tell contemporized origin stories of some of Marvel Comics' biggest characters. Each volume of Season One that Marvel Comics produces makes me look forward to the next one, especially when they are as high quality as Wolverine Season One is.