Is there any superhero that has a more confusing backstory than Wolverine? Was he mutated from a wolverine cub, is Sabretooth his father or brother, and whether his claws are bone or metal are just some of the questions fans constantly ask. Wolverine: Savage Origins is unable to answer everything, but it does provide a straightforward look at part of Wolverine’s history.
Savage Origins begins before Wolvie’s first appearance in The Incredible Hulk. He is found battling Wendigo by newly married James and Heather Hudson. Wolverine saves the couple and the grateful pair take the seemingly gravely injured man to their cabin. While recuperating, he tries to remember his past while dealing with his more bestial tendencies.
Wolverine has always been a complex character, and Savage Origins is no different. The heart of the story is the conflict between man and beast. Unsurprisingly, this is seen most in the book’s main character. When he is first found, Wolverine appears to be more animal than man and even when he saves the Hudsons, the action appears to be done more out of instinct. Throughout the book, Wolverine tries to be more human. Writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker do an excellent job of writing Logan as a man who can pitied and feared all while injecting humor into the character. This is vintage Wolverine.
Along with the inner struggle, there is a more visible one that is ironically more subtle. From their first meeting, James Hudson distrusts Wolverine. Initially, it’s concern for his new wife’s safety, but eventually his feelings manifest themselves in what some may call misguided patriotism. While Logan fights to be more human, James is almost too logical. He even voices reservations about the Weapon X program itself in a clever bit of writing.
The work of Salva Espin and Cam Smith is both detailed and cartoon like. There are some great panels here with the first reveal of Wolverine’s original costume being a treat. Savage Origins also contains callbacks to the Weapon X series by by Barry Windsor-Smith and all the characters look good. The best drawn moments are in the background when people looked bemused or smug.
Savage Origins also includes Wolverine (2003) issue #20 which is the first part of the “Enemy of the State” story arc. The story begins with a bang as a new villain calling himself The Gorgon succeeds where many villains have failed countless times. As a first part, it’s naturally filled with plenty of setup, but what it has is intriguing. It is clear that Wolverine will be facing off with many of the people he calls friends. There may be a mystery, but the promise of watching the former Weapon X battle old teammates is the draw here.
John Romita, Jr.’s art is beautiful to look at and the best part of the issue. There’s a spectacular fight scene with a surprising finish while the last page of the book is fantastic, if a little generic. There is no wasted space and watching a rain-soaked battle in a Japanese graveyard is something else. Overall, the issue ties into the theme of Wolverine and his inhuman inclinations.
Wolverine: Savage Origins is a great read for fans of the best there is at what he does. The origin story is fun and references previous tales, gives further insight into why he joined the X-Men, and even has an Alpha Flight appearance. ‘Enemy of the State’ continues to deal with Wolverine’s inner battle. Savage Origins is essential for anyone who likes Wolverine.