Monday, December 01, 2008

Wolverine: Origins #30

Wolverine: Origins #30
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Mike Deodato
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: John Barber

I don't often get to say that Wolverine: Origins was my favourite X-book of the week. For once, though, it was. Granted, the competition wasn't particularly fierce, but the "Original Sin" crossover has largely succeeded in what it set out to do.

For those of you just joining us, "Original Sin" is a crossover between Wolverine: Origins and X-Men: Legacy. It's a natural fit, as both titles have a similar format: stories set in the present day interspersed with flashbacks that, depending on your point of view, are either rewriting history, or trying to impose some shape on it.

Here, the flashbacks are about what happened when Wolverine first joined the X-Men and why he stopped being a psycho. But they're a fairly minor part of a story which mainly serves to rehabilitate Wolverine's son Daken, who was introduced into this series a while back. Daken is supposed to be the sort of maniac that Wolverine was before his deprogramming. In a fit of cliche, the previous arc ended with him losing his memory. In "Original Sin", Wolverine and Professor X try to keep him out of the clutches of the Hellfire Club, and set him back on the right path.

Simple enough, and it actually works to a large extent. Part of the problem with Wolverine: Origins is that its supposedly earth-shattering revelations (such as Daken) have simply been ignored in every other title, creating the unavoidable impression that they don't count, and they'll probably be ignored once this book goes away. With some books this wouldn't matter, but Origins depends so heavily on continuity and history that it simply doesn't have the option of pretending that the wider Marvel Universe doesn't exist. It can't be a purely self-contained comic - it isn't set up that way. If nothing else, "Original Sin" has done Daken a favour by putting him into wider circulation and insisting that, yes, he really does count and he'll be around for a while to come.

The story also turns Daken from a one-dimensional psycho into a more rounded character. In his earlier appearances, he came across mainly as a failed attempt at cool. Now he feels like a proper character, and I'm somewhat interested to see where they're going with him. His transformation is thoroughly forced and contrived - amnesia, for god's sake? - but I can let that slide, because however we got here, the character is vastly improved for it.

Origins has suffered in the past from being painfully slow, but that too seems to have been addressed here. This bounces along at a perfectly reasonable pace, while still finding the necessary space for the key turning points. It also helps that we've got Mike Deodato providing art. This series is a conspiracy melodrama. Steve Dillon, wonderful artist though he is, was horribly miscast on Origins, because the last thing it needed was an artist who made it look vaguely realistic. That just flagged up how ridiculous it all was. Deodato, on the other hand, is about as far over the top as the story - so at least everyone's on the same page. And he's on good form here, with some imaginative layouts and a rather lovely dream scene full of cherry blossom.

Now, I have my doubts about the idea that Xavier is responsible for wiping part of Wolverine's memories. It's quite neat in some ways, providing an excuse for his change of heart. In fact, with hindsight it's a shame they didn't use it to explain Wolverine's mellowing a few years into the Claremont run. But there are plenty of other stories which don't seem to fit this model. Most obviously, Wolverine supposedly couldn't remember anything about his past when Alpha Flight took him in, years before he got anywhere near the X-Men - but there are also several stories based on Xavier trying to recover Wolverine's lost memories, including one current miniseries (Weapon X: First Class). Technically you can square those stories by claiming that Xavier is just humouring Wolverine, but let's be honest: "Original Sin" kneecaps them. And by their continuity-heavy nature, neither Legacy nor Origins has the luxury of pick-and-mix history.

Then there's the ending, which sees Daken and Wolverine heading off to face Romulus. I have yet to see anything that makes me remotely interested in Romulus. Oh, and if he turns out to be a mutant wolf-man who founded Rome and has been secretly running society ever since (which would be my bet), then that is unlikely to change my views on him.

Still, Romulus is barely in this story, which is all about Daken, and actually manages to rehabilitate him in a way I wouldn't have thought possible. "Original Sin" has pulled off a very difficult task there, so well done.

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