Marvel Comics
Wolverine: Origins #1
By Al Kratina
May 1, 2006 - 01:59

Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Daniel Way
Penciller(s): Steve Dillon
Cover Artist(s): Joe Quesada

The reflection he's seeing is actually a money-grubbing variant cover.
Success can be a wonderful thing. It can transform an obscure work of art into a worldwide phenomenon, rewarding writers, painters, and creators toiling in obscurity with fame, fortune, and an opportunity to devote themselves full time to the work they love. However, it can also directly lead to tragedy, like Kurt Cobain’s suicide and Spice World. Marvel Comics, unfortunately, has a long history of dealing with success poorly. Anyone unfortunate enough to remember the early ‘90s boom in comics remembers that Marvel somehow convinced itself that the only thing more cost-effective than counterfeiting money was printing something with an X in the title. Recently, however, they’ve shown some restraint, approaching the excellent Ultimate line with caution and refusing to over-extend their non-Brian Michael Bendis creators. However, with the advent of a second Wolverine monthly, and the continued publication of several X-books that clearly no one cares about (Cable / Deadpool is the Joan of Arcadia of comics), I fear the company may be reverting to the old, forbidden ways.


        The original Wolverine: Origins was a hugely popular miniseries that finally set down a definitive back story for the popular X-Man. After years of making him a Civil War general, 16th century samurai, Mongolian warlord, or whatever else was on The Discovery Channel that day, Origins revealed Wolverine to be the son of a wealthy Canadian land-owner, born near the end of the 19th century. Not the most exciting of histories, to be sure, but it was a good read and it answered many long-time fans’ questions. It did, however, end on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Wolverine living in the forest, being hunted by a Sabretooth-looking fellow named Dog.


        The new series, in a stroke of marketing genius, chooses not to address any of that, instead starting off with Wolverine running around with a samurai sword in the present, attacking Condoleeza Rice.  Even more troubling is the fact that this is an ongoing series, which doesn’t really bode well for fans seeking a canonical, final origin tale, meaning that Oliver Twist is going to get more gruel before we get any answers. Written by Daniel Way, what I find most annoying about this issues is that again, like in his recent run on the regular Wolverine title, the story presupposes that Logan has all the answers, but the reader is not privy to them. As a narrative device, this is frustrating, and isolates the reader from the characters, instead of drawing the audience into the story. Plus, it’s all about friggin' samurai swords again. I realize that comic fans are legally required to be obsessed with Japanese culture, at least the animated kind, or else they don’t get to meet Warren Ellis at Wizard World, but enough is enough. I want to discover Wolverine’s early life, not how many Kurosawa movies the Marvel editorial board has seen.


The art is by Steven Dillon, which is fine, if you don’t mind Logan looking like Tulip from Preacher with a bigger jaw. I’ve never been terribly impressed by Dillon’s artwork, as I find he suffers from the John Romita, Jr. curse of indistinguishable characters, plus I don’t find the style works terribly well for more realistic books. Not that a comic about a guy with sword hands and a bumble-bee colored suit is particularly realistic, but it certainly takes itself seriously enough. But, Dillon is a popular artist, to be sure, so my complaints in that respect are minor. All in all, Wolverine: Origins will no doubt be an essential part of any X-­fans collection. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the book is off to a rocky start, I will say that I fear success has gone to Wolverine’s head. 

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