• Review - Wolverine: Season One

    Writers: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker
    Penciller: Salva Espin
    Inker: Cam Smith
    Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
    Letterer: Joe Caramagna
    Cover Artist: Julian Totino Tedesco
    Editor: Jordan D. White
    Price: $24.99 US $27.99 CAN
    Release Date: June 2013

    Creating a definitive Wolverine origin story isn't an easy task.

    Since the character rose to popularity in the late 80's a lot of creators have been desperate to add to the mythology & history of the character, retconning as and when, so inevitably there's a lot of material available to trawl through; some good, some... not, and some downright confusing.

    Marvel's Season One line of Graphic Novels is “about bringing new readers to comics and comic stores around the world” and trying to reach an audience that right now is more familiar with our most popular iconic characters from movie and TV screens” which means taking a fresh approach and using the material from the character's history in a way that will appeal to readers both old and new alike, without being tied to existing continuity.

    Luckily for us as Alpha Flight fans, writers Ben Acker & Ben Blacker choose to take a lot from the shared history that Logan has with the team, in what could essentially be Department H: Season One (though that'd sell a hell of a lot less).

    The book begins with Heather & Mac finding Weapon X in the wild and then focuses on Logan's journey from post-Weapon X beast to regaining his humanity, finishing with his being recruited into the X-Men by Charles Xavier and there is a lot of James and Heather inbetween, practically on every page in fact.
    Whilst there have been flashbacks of Logan's time between being found and joining The Flight Program it's never really been fleshed out in great detail; it's almost seemed as if he quickly regained it and went on to become a member Dept. H almost instantaneously.
    Acker & Blacker use Logan's near-blank state at the start to highlight his animalistic nature and the constant battle between being man or beast is a key part of the story, the struggle of which Heather is a major contributor to and reason to change for.

    The attraction between Logan and Heather that exists in the 616 is played up a lot here, in a way that makes sense; it's Heather that helps him regain his humanity and is there with him every step of the way, her maternal instinct flourishing towards the man that needs her help, the man that eventually becomes her friend and the good that she sees in him.
    This is a Heather that has no intention of being a superhero; she's much more akin to the young woman that convinced Mac to steal the Am-Can suit way back when, but with a medical/possible scientific background, making her very much her husband's equal within Department H and very much a part of it by the end of the book.

    James Hudson is played as the company man throughout, which given the way he was written post-Byrne isn't surprising.
    He seems a lot more like the Mac that allowed Wild Child in the program and created Bedlam. And while he's not evil in any sense of the word, this isn't the friend that Wolverine would eventually make executor of his will. But he's a man that clearly loves his wife, despite their differences of opinions and would do anything to protect her.
    We see Hudson piloting the Guardian suit as a Department H defense program prototype; he's not the scientist that won't work in the field and despite his allegiances to the company he knows the difference between right and wrong.

    Department H is very similar to the shadowy organisation as seen in Alpha Flight Volume 2; underhanded and determined to get results for Canada however they can, with the Weapon X project one of it's own, and the writers also reach into Volume 2 for a very unexpected Director: Myra Haddock - possibly to place Mac between two women: one his wife, the other his country.
    The book also seems to use a supporting character from Deadpool; Dr Killebrew who had connections to Mac in the Deadpool & Death '98 Annual, although it could just be a similarity in character appearance.

    The art comes from Salva Espin, Cam Smith & Jim Charalampidis who provide a great looking book.
    We've previously seen Espin's take on characters on the covers to Chaos War:Alpha Flight & Wolverine: First Class #5 but this is definitely a lot looser and sketchier at times, most likely to convey the beastial side of the titular character, whilst also retaining a fresh and easily universal look for people new to the medium - the characters are very distinct throughout and leave little room for confusion, though this is also helped by the very tight ensemble cast.

    The fight scenes throughout the book (and let's face it the public want to see Wolverine fight!) are really well done; very dynamic images and occasional full page splashes including an amazing homage to Windsor-Smith's Weapon X series.

    Charalampidis's colour palette especially adds to the book, distinguishing between the gorgeous, bright Canadian wilderness, the dark sketchy, secretive Department H and the clean, crisp clinical medical facilities as and when needed to create a book that mixes the classic colouring of the 80's with today's modern look.

    All in all the creative team manage to create, in my opinion, an exceptional look at the pre-X-Men life of Logan, picking through existing continuity to produce a book that alludes to his hugely packed past, giving nods to longtime readers, but at the same time doesn't force it down new reader's throats and the end result is a very accessible and interesting read that gives a great insight into the man that would eventually be Wolverine of the X-Men and his connection to the Marvel Universe as a whole, with great respect to Alpha Flight lore. This is the true beauty of the comics medium and how this story succeeds where Hollywood has arguably failed.

    And without spoiling too much; a great Wolverine/Hulk fight because let's face it – we can never have too many of those!

    I'd definitely like to see more from Acker & Blacker at Marvel if this is anything to go on, and highly recommend it to all 'Flight Fans.

    Comments 15 Comments
    1. -K-M-'s Avatar
      -K-M- -
      Whoa I dig the Guardian armor there. I like it. Also great review. Good job
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      Great review! I am pretty sure i will be trying to pick this one up, sounds good.
    1. Mokole's Avatar
      Mokole -
      I always didn't like all the white on Guardian's suit, deep red or more red was always good, like this image and the character in v2.
    1. Alphan East's Avatar
      Alphan East -
      Great review... I will definitely be picking this one up.
    1. Sypes's Avatar
      Sypes -
      Great review! I'd love to read this. Is this book new ? When did this come out?
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      June 5th to Direct Market, a few weeks later to amazon etc.
    1. GingrBeard's Avatar
      GingrBeard -
      Hmm.. this review sold me on it. I'd like to check it out. I'm not a fan of the Guardian suit, but I do like that it's mechanical and bulky looking like the Iron Man suits. It's hard to change something as timeless as the Canadian flag though so I don't blame them for the bad design in comparison.
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      Yeah, the suit in this continuity/universe/whatever is very much a specific military defense application hence the armor-ness.

      I really do recommend this book, to fans of either Alpha Flight or Wolverine. It is pricey but it's a very nice finished product. And you get a free digital copy too if you're into that kind of thing.

      It's very much what the X-Men Origins:Wolverine film could have been, although this isn't quite as Hollywood-y. Which is probably why it works more.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      I actually saw it for sale last night. Was tempted, but this isn't a great time for me to spend that money.

      Your review makes me want to buy it even more, though. Sounds really good.

      ~ Le Messor
      F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."
      Hemingway: "Yes, they have more money."
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      $17.55 Canadian, from Amazon.ca

      I just ordered mine.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      It was about $27 here, iirc... I could've bought it, but I'm driving to Sydney in a couple of days, and so being pretty precious about my money.

      ~ LM
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      Got it, read it, LOVED IT! A very well-handled, respectful appearance by Jamie and Heather Hudson. And did anybody else noticed the Deadpool duds in one of the display cases when Wolvie is picking out his costume?
    1. rplass's Avatar
      rplass -
      Wow what a great review. Bumped because I saw a panel from this GN reprinted in Marvel Fact Files. Is this considered to be in continuity? I believe it ought to be considered as such.
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      No, it's definitely non-continuity.
    1. -K-M-'s Avatar
      -K-M- -
      I wish they would use that design of guardian. Could work in Captain Marvel