You think you know him. The guy who’s “the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn’t very nice.” The angry, conflicted, raging amnesiac. The super-cool, bad boy antihero who deep down has his own morals and code of ethics. The vertically challenged mutant with a healing factor, a chip on his shoulder, and admantium steel on his bones.
Logan. Weapon X. Wolverine.
You think you know him. Think again.
As the tagline for Johnston and Tortosa’s manga re-invention of Wolverine states, “This is not the Wolverine you know.” Instead of being filled with over thirty years of convoluted back-story, this first volume of a new series provides a version of the character which is a breath of fresh air. The basics of the Wolverine history are kept – Canadian, no memory of earlier life, crazy hair (which is absolutely perfect in the manga style!), retractable claws. That, however, is about as close to the regular Marvel U’s Wolverine as Prodigal Son gets, and that makes it all the more awesome. I just hope this doesn’t get cancelled early and we can get a chance to see just how awesome it can be (with a Del Rey Manga / Marvel version of the X-Men coming out this summer, perhaps the odds are better that it will make it for a while?).
Logan, now a teenager, was as a young child found on the doorstep of a martial arts school for misfits and troubled youth in backwoods Canada. He quickly proved to be a natural fighter, so much so that now his ego is as strong as his muscles, both of which get a workout in this volume. There is an undercurrent of learning self-control and self-awareness, themes that have long been part of the Wolverine mystique, which I hope continues and is capitalized upon. They are wonderfully realized in the student/teenager aspect of Logan, who sees himself as too good to be tested against the other students, goes into beserker rage when bested in a match, rails against the smallness of his world and confinement in his Canadian dojo, and ultimately exclaims in frustration, “You think I don’t want to know who I am, what I am, every single day? You think I don’t wonder why I’m a freak?”
Tortosa’s artwork is a brilliant interpretation of Japanese manga design through a Western lens, and perfectly matches the fast-paced, hard hitting story. And speaking of the story, Johnston’s writing combines teenage angst, action-packed martial arts action, humor, budding romance, revenge, foreboding danger, conspiracy, and, of course, plenty of opportunities for Wolverine’s claws to pop.