Graphic Novel Review: Origin II

16:19 06 August 2014

Origin II

Origin II

Archant

More secrets from Wolverine’s now not-so-mysterious past are revealed...

(Panini Books)

Until the release of the first Origin series about 12 years ago, the extent of James “Logan” Howlett’s longevity was unknown, and casting him in a 19th century environment threw up more questions than it answered about his early years.

Picking up the story of the man who will become Wolverine in 1907, we find him living wild as part of a wolf pack, until an attack by a rogue polar bear created by future X-Men foe Mr Sinister, aka Nathanial Essex, brings him back to civilisation with a bump.

Essex is experimenting on drifters and winos, offering them the chance to forget their past lives and serve him as his Marauders, brainwashed soldiers who obey his every command. For Logan, this may just be the answer to the pain which has burdened him for so many years, the ability to leave it all behind and vanish into oblivion…

Exhibited as a clawed wildman in a travelling circus, Logan is freed by the savage Creed and his companion Clara, only to find his destiny is more intrinsically linked to Essex than he previously imagined, culminating in events which will set up the long-standing rivalry between Wolverine and arch enemy Sabretooth in years to come…

There are obvious efforts here to clear up continuity and present a definitive backstory for one of Marvel’s most formidable heroes, and writer Kieron Gillen takes steps to show how Logan develops many of his character traits and moves further towards becoming the character we know today, but whether many of these new developments are picked up by future scripters remains to be seen.

Artist Adam Kubert is exceptional, as one might expect, his pages offering a similar tone to the first Origin but also featuring some neat story-telling tricks which highlight once again the strength of the graphic novel medium as an artwork.

In many ways, I preferred the first Origin for its, er, originality, and there’s a lot here which is only building on that initial tale rather than forging an identity of its own. With the out-of-continuity title Savage Wolverine also presenting stories from other points in Logan’s long lifetime, there seems little reason for this tale not to be included there, where it probably would have received a kinder reception.

Not a failure in any respect, but still something of a disappointment. Let’s just hope there isn’t an Origin III…

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