Saturday, October 11, 2008

X-Men: Original Sin

Writers: Daniel Way & Mike Carey
Artists: Mike Deodato, Scot Eaton & Andrew Hennessy
Colourists: Rain Beredo & Jason Keith
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editors: John Barber & Nick Lowe

X-Men: Original Sin is the lead-in to a five-part crossover between X-Men: Legacy and Wolverine: Origins. The books are a natural fit; both titles feature their lead character exploring their past through the medium of the extended flashback. And the point when Wolverine joined the X-Men can be credibly presented as a major moment for both men.

The idea seems to be that Xavier helped to deprogram Wolverine when he joined the X-Men, thanks in part to a rather cavalier use of his powers. Having rescued his brainwashed son Daken from the Seemingly Neverending Conspiracy, Wolverine wants Xavier to help him in the same way; but thanks to his crisis of conscience, Xavier's not so sure. All straightforward enough.

Wolverine: Origins is a rare case of a book actually benefitting creatively from a crossover. The title is built around a series of supposedly earth-shaking revelations about Wolverine's past, but at the same time, it seems to exist in a continuity bubble. It's hardly ever mentioned in any other title - even Wolverine. Okay, yes, they mentioned Romulus in Wolverine #50, but that issue was (or should have been) an embarrassment to all concerned, and did nobody any favours. The point is, though, that Wolverine: Origins is a series which exists to publish revelations that are then studiously ignored.

If the book was telling a compelling story, then this might not matter. But it isn't, and for a title playing the "everything you know is wrong" card so heavily, to be so thunderously ignored is death. The mere fact that X-Men: Legacy has finally deigned to acknowledge its existence, therefore, can only help. At least Origins starts to seem like it might have some lasting impact; until now, it's been a series which has demonstrably had none at all.

The story itself is passable enough, and considering the vastly different styles of Carey and Way (who write half the book each), the tone is remarkably consistent. The art is more hit and miss. Mike Deodato does the first part, with some inventive but utterly gratuitous and distracting layouts. On the rest of the book, you get Scot Eaton, a solid but conservative artist.

Overall, it's better than I was expecting, and it does do some much-needed work in making Daken seem like he actually happened. But as a story, it's just okay; and it doesn't manage the bigger task of persuading me that I particularly want to read about Kid Wolverine, who still seems like a thoroughly unnecessary and unwelcome retcon. Still, I suppose it's a small step in the right direction.

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