Collects: Origin #1-6
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artists: Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove
By Doran Murphy
Joe Quesada and Marvel took a giant leap of faith when they decided to finally reveal the long-kept secret origin of Wolverine, and, in the process, Origin shattered many of the ideas people had about Wolverine — especially his past. Wolverine has always maintained an aura of mystique. Oftentimes, the more the writers would tease us with hints of his past, the more questions we'd ask. But the fear of revealing Wolverine's origins comes down to money. Wolverine is undoubtedly the most popular of the X-Men, and X-Men is the most popular Marvel comic. If you ruin Wolverine by telling his origin, you pull out the lynchpin that holds Marvel together — and you could well sink the company. So naturally, Marvel had high hopes and many reservations about the series.
Origin details the life of the young James Howlett, a wealthy child (maybe 10 or 11) in Alberta (in the 1880s) who suffers many maladies that prevent him from living a normal life. He is often stuck inside the house, with no other children to play with — until a young girl named Rose comes to live at the Howlett estate. Dog, the other boy who lives there, is the son of the groundskeeper — Mr. Logan — also often accompanies the two young children when they play outside — acting as children do.
However, Mr. Logan often beats Dog, which has a lasting effect on the boy and eventually drives him around the bend. He also attempts to force himself onto Rose, and eventually kills James' dog — the thing James loves most in the world. Because of this, Mr. Howlett fires his groundskeeper, and has the Logans removed from the property. That night, Logan and Dog return to the Howlett mansion — heavily armed and with revenge on their minds. However, when they corner the sickly James, his hands seemingly explode as three bones jut outward — killing the senior Logan when he attempts to hurt Rose.
James is shunned by what remains of his family (for "being a beast"), while Rose is framed for many of the murders. Thus, James and Rose are forced to flee to a mining camp in British Columbia, where they pass as cousins. Much thanks to Rose, James adopts the Logan name. Out in the wilds of British Columbia, Logan learns to hunt and kill animals in order to supplement the food that the camp cook provides. He runs with wolves, and is dubbed "the wolverine" — for his digging skills. Then the day comes when Dog, scarred forever by James on the night of the massacre, reappears.
Overall, Origin is a fairly paint by numbers story. Still, it's a pretty good read. What really hooked me was the artwork — notably the picture of a bloodied hand with bone claws popping out. There are many great Illustrations, and it's the art that pulls you in — not so much the story. Overall, the art of Origin is some of the best I've ever seen.
Origin was hailed as "the greatest story Marvel never told." Really, their hand was forced — they had to tell it before it was told for them in the X-Men movies. They had to tell it the right way — their way — and they came pretty close to nailing it. There wasn't a whole lot they could do, because they couldn't risk ruining Wolverine — next to Spider-Man, he's the single most important character to Marvel. Given their limitations, I thought they did a pretty good job and created an enjoyable book. Not the best comic book ever made, but it's certainly quite good — and a must for any Wolverine fan.