Thursday, 1 May 2014

Wolverine: Origin II Review (Kieron Gillen, Adam Kubert)


Wolverine is one of the most popular superheroes in the world yet arguably has the worst origin and most convoluted backstory over anyone. Part of this stems from the first Origin book back in 2000 by a smorgasbord of creators – then Marvel Chief Bill Jemas, the soon-to-be Marvel Chief Joe Quesada, writer Paul Jenkins (whose thankless task it was to implement Jemas’ bad ideas), and artist Andy Kubert.

Together they put together a godawful book where Logan – now called James Howlett – is revealed to be a 19th century sickly child of wealthy industrialist parents whose evil groundskeeper somehow causes him to accidentally murder his dad and sends him and his pal on the run. He later kills his friend accidentally and disappears into the wild, traumatised. Writer Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert, brother of Andy, pick up the thread to tell the still-unnecessary story of what happened next. 

It’s 1907 and Logan’s been spending his time running around naked in the Canadian woods with his wolf family. But suddenly people are after him. The “gentleman” scientist Nathaniel Essex (the future Mister Sinister) wants to capture Logan and dissect him, while a travelling circus wants him for their star attraction – enter a man called Creed, dispatched to bring Logan in. 

Besides showing Logan’s first encounter with Essex and the Creed family, I struggled to see the point of this book. I know why it exists from a commercial standpoint – because it’ll sell – but, from a creative standpoint, an origin story should reveal something crucial about the character, ie. how they became who they are, and Origin II does nothing of the sort. Wolverine’s already the character he’ll become at the start of Origin II and the events of this book don’t change him at all. 

Gillen makes a banal point about who the “real savage” is (ready for this bombshell? It’s not wild animals, it’s … man) and Logan suffers some more because that’s his lot when it comes to his origins apparently, but we don’t actually learn anything new about him with this book.

I don’t know if it was his intention to write one of the most boring Wolverine books ever but that’s what Kieron Gillen’s done, which is surprising if you’ve read his other Marvel books like Young Avengers which are fizzing with energy, fun and ideas. To go from those kind of comics to the flat, monotone, painfully dull narrative of Origin II is totally unlike the quality writing and imaginative storytelling you’d expect from him. Adam Kubert’s art is fine – I prefer it to Andy’s – but there weren’t any images that stood out as particularly memorable and the overall effect is unmoving. 

Origin II is completely pointless, telling us the unnecessary next part in the dull early years of Wolverine while also failing to shed light on any aspect Wolverine’s character. You come away from the book knowing the same about Logan as you did going in, which totally undermines the point of telling an origin story. For a character of his popularity, Wolverine’s origins should really be better than this.

Wolverine: Origin II

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