A Defense of ‘Wolverine: Origins’ – Part I

Long-time readers are no doubt familiar with the many comments of Roleplay Adventures. Well, we’ve finally given him a chance to speak his mind… as Gabriel Zero.

Origins #1 coverWe all read comics for fun right?

We spend our hard earned money on them for the purpose of being entertained, to feel the rush of excitement that comes from the pages of the X-Men. All of us might have a different opinion on what is the best Wolverine comic, but we all share a strong feeling for the hero who calls himself Wolverine.

But what some of us forget to realize is that comics are meant to be enjoyed and not argued over. Words like “canon” and “retcon” can get in the way of enjoying the true purpose of our favorite comic books, which should be enjoyment and fun. Collecting comic books is a great hobby, but the reason I collect them is to read the story so I can relax after a hard week of work.

I’m here to talk about why I think Wolverine Origins is a great book, and hopefully my opinion will help you see the good points in it.

Having a poor artist on your favorite comic book can be a real let down; the same goes for a writer with very little imagination. Sometimes we get those writers who make it painfully obvious that they are just in this to cash their check. After reading ‘Wolverine Origins’, I truly believe that the comic book doesn’t fall into this category. Despite being dark and violent, the back story does have some strong points that serve Wolverine’s back story very well.

I think most of the hate mail comes from the old Wolverine fans who are afraid of change, which is very understandable since the comic book character has been around for a very long time. I’ve read some complaints from readers who think Logan’s past should have remained a mystery, and so they argue that having it revealed is destroying the character. I strongly disagree because Logan’s past has always been a train wreck. In some issues he’s a wandering cowboy, in others he a super secret agent, and sometimes he is a noble samurai; his background mostly depends on the writer who has him that month (just look at what Larry Hama did to Logan and his relationship with Silver Fox).

I knew whoever would be in charge of Logan’s past would end up with a lot of hate mail. The writer would have to choose which memories were real and which weren’t because of the House of M event. Regardless of how talented he or she was, they would end up stepping on the toes of a million dedicated comic book fans. However despite all of this I believe Way is sticking close to the character that first appeared in Chris Claremont’s X-Men comic books. Back in those classic stories it was unknown if Logan’s claws were even real!

Thankfully as the character evolved he became something much more, but one thing stood the same and that was Logan’s willingness to kill those who would harm the innocent. Even his teammates felt uncomfortable on more the one occasion. As an example, I remember Angel left the team because he refused to work with Logan. Perhaps this is what Daniel Way is referencing when he shows us what happened during Wolverine’s early days.

Most of us can probably agree that Logan found his true purpose after he joined the X-Men. Logan mentioned more than once that he never felt like he belonged anywhere else. It’s been retconned more than once that Logan stood with Xavier in order to get his memory back, but eventually the X-Men became his family and his friends.

We would all like to point the finger at Weapon X for destroying Logan’s life before he joined X-Men. But Weapon X is no longer just an enemy of Logan; they have kidnapped hundreds of mutants and made an enemy of the entire X-Men. For me Weapon X stopped being interesting when they evolved into Weapon Plus and introduced Director Malcolm Colcord. It was time for a new adversary to step up, one who was exclusive to Wolverine and his past traumas.

I would like to give a shout out to Dig for being an awesome person; I would really be lost without him. As long as he continues to update his incredible site he will always have my full support.

Facebook comments:

  1. I know this post may come across as a bit incendiary for some of the long-time fans like myself, but let’s make sure to keep comments to a civil discourse.

    So let me kick this off and hopefully be brief…

    I think arguing about comics is an immemorial custom of comic book fans (as long as it doesn’t degenerate into name-calling, etc.) and I have always looked forward to it and encouraged it. To me, it is part of the enjoyment of comics.

    And I don’t think I’m afraid of change. I love new twists on old ideas. Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Warren Ellis are some of my favorite writers and made careers updating canon. But they did so respectfully. Wolverine: Origins, again in my opinion, has trampled on continuity and robbed the Wolverine of his nobility in his early adventures.

    Anyone else?

  2. I agree with RP adventures his past was bloody inconsistent this wraps threads together, name a GOOD part of wolverines character back story that this has removed? I dont often hear any CONSTRUCTIVE criticism of origins just crying and bitching about how they could do better (which of course isnt true except maybe in DiG’s case) The fact that he was retconned to having been a bad person at some points in his life is perfectly understandable based on the horrors, let downs and failiures he has experienced and more interesting.

    I disagree with him on the weapon X/plus issue. The origanal windsor smith weapon X was a jumbled boring mess. I always found it unrealistic that the american/canadian government were allowed to just randomly torture and main people for little reason the whole weapon plus thing was better is it made it a government sponsered initiative to make super soldiers like captain america and deal with mutant and non mutants threats. Rather then just cornelias being an obvious nutcase allwoed to work alone yet having backing and resoruces.

    I think the characters from claremont days were two dimensional and boring.
    Yeh we get it wolverine you want to stab people and be a sarcastic alcoholoic do something else.

    The whole mystery wrapped in an enigma thing is romantacized image with little ACTUAL depth the modern stories expand develop and delve into this characters origins powers and motivations/oppinions long live Way’s series.

  3. Wolverine’s past has been pick-and-chose for years, though the real craziness probably did come in during the messed-up issues where Silverfox turned into a Hydra agent and Logan found out a bunch of his memories were false. But Wolverine: Origins has done something completely different (and worse) for me–it’s tried to define Logan in a very complete way, but somehow disregarding everything that has happened before this series took the reins of his past. The idea of more clearly defining Logan’s past is not bad; even though I would have preferred Logan to be figuring out his past as he went like he has been for decades, even having him find out in the House of M arc is workable. It’s nice to have some exploration of his past that might start to sort out what in the world has been going on with him over the years.

    What I can’t stand about Wolverine: Origins is the approach they take, and the angle they take on Logan himself.

    Of course, everyone loves a “smash and slash” issue or arc every once in a while where Logan goes “Bloody Avenger” and puts aside any scruples to just get down and dirty and do his thing. But Wolverine: Origins has made it so this sort of story line is not the exception, but the usual. Gone is the intrigue, the mystery of his character, and the times when Logan is pulled back from the edge from killing someone who surely deserves it because he is a MAN–not an animal. The Logan in these stories lacks the innovation, the control, and the power that Logan used to have. Instead of being someone who has been forced to do bad things in order to survive in a world for the greater good over the years with spots of shame and loss of control to weigh him down, instead we’ve discovered that he’s a coward, a lackey, a cold-blooded murderer, with a few very rare pieces of goodness over his very-long life that were more “convenient” than charitable. In many ways, he’s worse than Sabertooth and *any* other villian we’ve come across over the years.

    When I think of the Wolverine that’s I’ve valued over the years I see a samurai who has fought for years against his own nature to be a noble man–one who has fought so long that he understands how difficult it is to come back from the brink. I see him as the mysterious but charming Patch in Madripoor, with his gang of loyal “Wolverine Rescue Squad” who are willing to risk their lives to save his without hesitation (see Uncanny X-Men 261). I see Logan with Silverfox, when he wasn’t able to shoot his dog Blue even though he had rabies, so she had to do it for him–the same Logan who wouldn’t kill a boy who ran him over intentionally and then opened fire on him. I see the Wolverine who has been haunted by the bad things he’s done and which have been done to him, but somehow these have only served to make him be the hero he has become in the world’s eyes–one that is valued far more than just as a killer. As Jubilee and Scott once said in one of the New X-Men issues, Logan is a “marshmellow” underneath all of his toughness. The “conscience” of the X-Men, as said by Kitty Pryde. Even as he’s grown harder as Mariko has died, he’s had to kill Jean time and time again, and he’s been betrayed by everything from his own memory to so many people he has tried to trust, he’s remained the same basic person. And the conscience of the X-Men is not a heartless murderer, no matter what he’s forgotten or remembered over the ups and downs of his life.

    So for me, Wolverine: Origins is like the Ultimate Universe. It’s not my Logan. It’s not my Wolverine. It’s like some fanfiction that decides to redo everything canon just so we can have something more concrete. Sure, maybe their new Wolverine has some interesting and new things to him, but he’s not the same person that I’ve learned to depend on over the years.

    Gotta stand with DiG with this one (even though I wasn’t quite as brief ;))

  4. what you dont seem to get is what you just said you like isnt contradicted by the new revelations, simply that during many of his mind control memory wipes and manipulations he sometimes was more a bad person then a good person which he later has to atone for

  5. I agree with BlackDew. the man protrayed in Origins most of the time seems nearer Sabretooth/punisher than Wolverine.
    The stories have a lot of good in them and they are interesting ideas, but the way they’re told they just don’t work. Most of the stories, I can accept (with a little tweaking for the chronology), but the way they’re told breaks down. Wolverine is a good guy and he’s always been that. As it was summed in an interview at the end of the X men Movie. “he’s a fallen samurai” and that is not a heartless murderer.
    On an unrelated note, the relationship with silver fox, I have a theroy to explain Larry Hama’s run, which I’ll share as soon as the team X section is updated.
    Great site, DIG

  6. Let me cite two examples of contradictions.

    1) Previous to Wolverine: Origins, Logan had been a hero during World War II. It has since been revealed that he aided Baron Von Strucker, sabotaged Allied war efforts, and engaged in mass executions and experimentation on Japanese-Americans that would have made Josef Mengele proud.

    2) Originally, Seraph was the person who saved Logan. Taught him morality, that actions have consequences and most importantly that he didn’t have to be a predator. But now Seraph is merely one of his handlers who teaches him how to assassinate without getting caught and how to betray others simply because you need to follow orders.

    But what I dislike the most about this series is the concept that Romulus has controlled Logan his entire life. I enjoyed when Wolverine had lived a hundred different lives before becoming an X-Man. Where he tried to do the right thing and many times failed because of his anger, his loyalty or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he always strove to be a good person. And it is that Wolverine, the failed samurai, that draws me to this character.

  7. A resounding “Amen!” to DiG’s last comment and Cat’s.

  8. Hmm I still dont think you stuff you say you like is impossible to work with current continuity.

    I dont think its meant the romulous has controlled every second of his life and every encounter he had. I think wolverine proabably escaped his clutches for a few years at a time but is always drawn back in after each of the failiures you just mentioned romulous just prods pushes and excacerbates the bad things in logans life and uses him as tool we he is able to/can. I however will admit to not reading much of old wolverine stories but every previous version old school fans cry about missing doesnt sound as appealing as the current to me. Romulous isnt in complete control he lost Daeken to wolverine and was caught with his pants down due to house of M which has finally given wolverine enough time and memories in one go to actually be able to break free.

    We dont know how many of those bad things he did which were contradictary to his undebated goodness were caused by blackmail memory wipes and pyschichs even as far as then.

    He could have been a hero in world war two and then a reluctant brainwashed bad guy for some of it which even then had a silver lining as he allowed cap and bucky to escape.

  9. BlackDew: great comparison between Wolverine and Ultimate Wolverine, I was just wondering(I know it will never happen) if Marvel could make of Origins, a chronology other than Earth-616 (or Marvel Universe), anyway.

    Let’s talk about the book now. In every introduction of Origins, we can read “After repeated brainwashing, torture and reprogramming…” and I think I finally begun to understand that what we see in Origins, the flashsbacks, are the bits when Wolverine was under someonelse control. it’s the only possibility that comes in my mind to not create a conflict between all previous stories and Origins.

    So if it’s the case, I still have a problem with Daniel Way, If this is really the case, I think D Way lacks of creativity, it look likes more a the story of Romulus than the story of Wolverine, and no one cares about Romulus. And if people may argue about this and reply that it’s about Wolverine, then I say: who wants to read a story where the main character is brainwashed? In other words, we read a story of a character has no personality and I don’t think that’s what the readers want.

    Plus, it look likes too that Logan wasn’t always brainwashed when he commited those crimes, was he brainwashed when he helped to create Nuke? I don’t have the answer but from what I read from the earlier issues of Origins, the answer seems to be no. the other thing I didn’t like at all was when Logan kills(issue 27) the remaining prisoners of wars just to get rid of the situation, It’s not Logan at all.

    As for Gabriel Zero, please don’t generalize when you talk about old fans. I don’t know what’s your definition of old fans, but I’m born in 1983 and I don’t consider myself “old” and I’m sure there are younger readers that don’t like Origins either. It’s not because of age, it’s because it doesn’t respect the logic of the character and its chronology.

  10. I didn’t generalize anyone in my review DF.

    I have posted my opinion here for a long time. DIG was the one who liked some of the thoughts I was posting and asked me to write up a review on a personal level. I knew I would get some shit for it , and I don’t mind being a minority on here. I was kind expecting it.

    It feels like you are taking my words on a personal level. That kind of annoys me, but I won’t elaborate more here because it’s DIG’s site. So if you feel like chatting some more about generalization feel free to email me @ gabrielzero@animemusucvideos.org

    But don’t tell me what to do DF, my opinion is my own and yours is one that I don’t agree with. Get over it.

  11. “who wants to read a story where the main character is brainwashed?”

    okay im sorry I couldnt let this go

    Yeh remember millars run on enemy of the state where wolverine was mind controlled that didnt sell lots of copies or be popular…. oh wait hang on it did!

    I was the one who ‘generalised’, not Gabe0 I simply meant old fans as ones who had been reading longer then say last decade.

    BTW its pretty obvious that wolverine was mind controlled/tortured/balckmailed/brainwashed/alloftheabove when he did any/most of the bad things. This is obvious because he was a godo person when he was a youth and he is a good person now having got all his memories back. meaning certain events sandwhiched in the middle must have had an explanation that was such.

    Also the killing people after the war was ambigous soldiers have been left in awkard binds and had to take the initiative only to get it later.

    He is not Pastor Logan hes not reverend Logan he can have done some bad things and still be a bad person without it being a continuity error we have all done things we regret and he has had a longer more violent life with which to make mistakes.

    Way’s left it ambiguous as to how much of what he has done over the years was or wasnt his fault leaving that air of mystery that you all cry to sleep over apparently not having anymore.

    The story dynamic is great “how responsible am I” “how many of those atrocities were caused by romulous or wolverine” Is it a bit of both?

    I cant wait for the next issue of wolverine origins. Also you guys are hardly consistent Digg for example doesnt like origins yet tolerates that crappy old man logan story and seems to like the shit-heap that is 1985.

    We have to come to a point where we the fans have to say I dont own [insert character here]. and just get over ourselves, that being said Digg actually does give reasoned criticisims and justifications more then most of you or anyone on the marvel boards.

  12. You know, I can find points on both sides of the argument here. But please let me tell you why I stopped reading the series (at least for now).
    I just flat out could not stand Dillon’s artwork. Everyone had the same face. Look at his more recent work on Punisher; Dillon’s Frank Castle looks exactly like his Logan. Dillon is a “Professional” artist. He should be able to vary his faces at least a little so that the story doesn’t get confusing visually. I am an artist, and would certainly not claim to be great, but I can at least make people look different. The other issue I have with Origins is Way’s pacing, it’s just too slow. When every issue seems like a slow build to something that never happens or at most is just a speed bump of action, it is very frustrating for the reader. I understand the point of this series is to inform readers of wolverine’s true past, but it’s just not very entertaining… (speaking from reading 1-14).

  13. okay im sorry I couldnt let this go

    Yeh remember millars run on enemy of the state where wolverine was mind controlled that didnt sell lots of copies or be popular…. oh wait hang on it did!

    The difference between the Millar arc and Origins is that the Millar’s arc was on the purpose to make Wolverine battle others super heroes, and that’s good, I like much more when Wolverine battles people with special powers rather than an army of Hydra, and more important, it lasted few months (in Logan’s life) but Origins is about all his life, and every twist of the book is because of brainwashing and/or Romulus.

  14. And even when he was brainwashed in Enemy of the State bits of the old Logan slipped through. Small as it was, I think it significant that they included the little detail that even after killing a bunch of people, Wolverine stopped to pet a dog, and was smiling a bit at it.

    Yes, it’s small and slightly ridiculous to mention, but I think it’s more significant than not.

    And I agree with DF on that last point. Having Logan brainwashed for a few months is a lot different than turning his whole life into a super-long brainwashing trip.

  15. I think the answer lies in who or what Romulus is. He seems to have a feral mutation like Logan and Creed but also seems to posses other power like the vanishing act and being able to implant images in Logan’s mind. (Wolverine 50-55)

    I think Romulus has the ability to control others like he suggested that Daken had. I wonder if Romulus is John Howelet II, the brother that was seen in Wolverine the End?

  16. well I think we can all agree that will be okay with the reveal as long as the lupine sapien bullshit isnt mentioned I throw up in my mouth a bit every time i say that phrase

  17. lol.

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