Back in 2008 when Wolverine: Logan was released, the character was still trying to understand the memories he was given back after years of not knowing who he was. This story sets to explain a key moment for him during World War II when he was fighting for the Allies in Japan. It’s a story about Logan becoming a man and understanding how cruel the world can be.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Finally armed with long-lost memories from his past, Logan – the man now known as Wolverine – returns to one of his first battlefields. Logan travels to a mysterious hill in Japan to come to terms with the ghosts of a long-forgotten WWII incident – a moment that reforged him in the flames of love, death and destruction. But these ghosts are very real…and if he’s not careful, they could keep him there forever! Award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughan (Runaways, Y the Last Man) teams with artist Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets) to bring you a unique tale. A dark and cerebral defining moment of Wolverine’s life – one that took him from being a mutant, and made him into a man.
Why does this matter?
At the time of its release, Wolverine: Logan was the hottest book everyone was anticipating. Brian K. Vaughan just wrapped up Y: The Last Man and Eduardo Risso’s fabulous 100 Bullets was nearing its end too. They joined forces on a mainstream book after working in the Vertigo and Image universes at a time when that was the edgy thing to do.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Told in only three issues this story is quick, sure of itself, and at times poetic. It opens with Logan attempting to redeem his past in Japan and encountering a devil of sorts from that past. Vaughan writes an evergreen sort of story (which he was intending based on the notes in the backmatter) that is timeless and can be read by anyone who is even remotely familiar with the character. The story unveils a time in Logan’s life when he himself barely understood what he was and he definitely didn’t see himself as some hero. As the story unfolds he befriends an American soldier, meets a mysterious Japanese woman, and takes the full force of a nuclear bomb. It is in its core that the story bears its true meaning.
I don’t want to spoil it, but this story is very true to Logan becoming a man. There is a romance here that is punctuated with an ending that is directly connected to a physical act taken by the villain. In these moments Vaughan and Risso capture the wistful nature of memory, past failures, and our long lost hopes.
Risso draws a great series here, capturing the animalistic quality of Wolverine in his hairy body and vicious claws. The woman he meets is given a wistful and romantic vibe via the color by Dean White. There are battles taking place in the snow which are starkly contrasted well with a bright flame. Logan’s somewhat innocent nature in the flashbacks is captured well by Risso too. He has a look that is a bit rough around the edges, like a young man who has yet to meet a girl. There are symbolic elements to the story that hold up well via the imagery too.
This issue also comes with fantastic backmatter including Vaughan’s pitch, what appears to be email correspondence with then-Marvel editor-in-chief Alex Alonso, and the script to the first issue. Risso’s pencils are also displayed with sketches too. Great extra material.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The romance of the story doesn’t quite work and reads more like lust. Wolverine and the mysterious woman certainly connect, but it seems feral and more about their physical relationship over any personal bond they have with each other. One could argue they are both lost in this world and cling to each other because of that, but that’s not there on the surface. Instead, you need to make your own connection for them which hurts the strength in their bond.
Is it good?
Vaughan and Risso set out to make an evergreen story anyone can enjoy, and they succeeded wonderfully. The deeper meaning about Logan becoming a man is effective and in some sense deeply moving. It is 10 years after its original release and it still shows no signs of losing its luster.
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