Group Review: Origin II #1

Each of the participating writers/reviews of Comic Bastards will give the issue a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass along with a short reason for the score. Here’s a blurb about the issue from Marvel before we begin: Part 1 of 5! A few years after the events of ORIGIN finds James Howlett running with the wolves…until something unexpected brings him back into the world of Follow the first "X-Man" as he finds his way back to civilization and falls afoul of someone Sinister, who's just discovering mutantkind and the horrors he can visit on them. Plus, discover the secret behind James' greatest enemy! At some point, the mutant who will become The Wolverine must choose: is he man or is he beast? An all-new chapter in the secret origin of one of Marvel's most mysterious characters is revealed starting this November, by superstars Kieron Gillen (YOUNG AVENGERS, IRON MAN) and Adam Kubert (AVENGERS, UNCANNY X-MEN, WOLVERINE)!

Steve: BUY

Not having read the original Origins, nor giving two shits about Wolverine as a character, I wasn’t expecting much out of Origin II, other than perhaps the recognition of its impressive creative team in Gillen and Kubert ... which sounds like a local law firm.

A third of the way into this book, I was ready to call it quits. As little as I care for Wolverine, I enjoy him even less when he acts out his inner Jungle Book like he does here, shacking up with a pack of wolves. But then, like so many other times in my life, a polar bear showed up ... and changed everything.

Kubert’s art in the beginning, along with Gillen’s fairly formulaic writing, doesn’t inspire as much as either of their work has in the past, but when the crux of this book’s conflict occurs - flooded as it is in a wash of red on white - it becomes simultaneously stark, savage, gorgeous and terrible, completely turning everything around for me. Gillen’s employed quiet against Kubert’s brutal backdrop is snow-muffled murder, and if nothing else, this book should be experienced for its last 10 pages alone.

Half of this issue - and all of its protagonist - is a solid metaphor and setup for a pretty big, very pale and equally polarizing X-Men villain, and it should be interesting to see that story played out. However, while I give this issue a buy (for its last raspy gasps), I doubt I’ll follow the series until it’s collected in trade format.

Dustin: BORROW

This is actually a very good issue. I liked the story. I liked that there was zero dialogue and that visuals told the entire story while the narrative… well it stated the obvious. My problem is that after I finished reading it I was left with the burning question of “what was it all for?” This is a five-part story after all and so this issue ties into the larger narrative of the series, but I don’t know how or why outside of the fact that Mr. Sinister is involved. Even with that said, it’s not as if Sinister was seeking out Logan to begin with; and if he is then you just rewrote the entirety of X-Men history with a bear. That’s what I didn’t like about this issue is that it didn’t add anything to Wolverine’s lore and it potentially damages the X-Men’s history; a history that Marvel can’t seem to leave alone because they don’t know what to do with the once mighty mutants.

If this was a stand-alone issue then I think I would have been more impressed, but it’s not. It’s the start of a series, but I didn’t really get that impression from it. Don’t get me wrong I liked the story, but was it a story worth picking up after the original Origins series? So far, no. It’s worth a read, but only if you can borrow someone else’s copy because the $4.99 price tag definitely isn’t worth it.

Origins II #1 Variant Cover 1

Carl: BUY

The story takes a page from Jack London to bring a snowy tale of Wolverine in his early days exploring his feral side.  No, this isn’t a speedball express or “Bub” spouting Wolverine; instead, we get a man dealing with his mutant side and coming to peace with nature.  James Howlett has found sanctuary with a pack of wolves in the Canadian forests.  An imposing bear stalks the same woods, and the inevitability of Howlett and the bear clashing seethes through the subtle foreshadowing in the story.

Kieron Gillen creates an engrossing story that helps explain the nature of Logan’s bad attitude and the source of his ferocious fighting style.  Adam Kubert’s illustrations drop you in a snowy setting that makes you feel as if the hot breath from your mouth creates steam as you breath heavy from the thrill of the hunt.  Although this is not an X-Men version of Wolverine, it is still one hell of an interesting story.

Score: 2 Buys and a Borrow

Writer: Kieron Gillen Artist: Adam Kubert Publisher: Marvel Comics Price: $4.99 Release Date: 12/24/13