Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking Back: The Year in X 2010 - Part 2

By Paul Steven Brown

It's time to take another look back at the X-Men comic book franchise for the year that was 2010. There were a lot of changes and many ups and downs as would be expected for group of books about mutants. In this installment, I take a look at the various Wolverine books that came out this year.
Wolverine: Origins
(Wolverine: Origins #44 – 50)

I was so glad to see this book go away. Daniel Way tried way too hard to rearrange Wolverine’s already complex and convoluted past. Wolverine: Origins was almost entirely devoted to Logan’s battle with a mysterious manipulator from his past called Romulus who was grooming either Wolverine or his son Daken (another creation of this series) to be his heir. It was a mess, which is a shame because through it all I could tell that Way was a capable writer and he had some good scripts once and awhile. Still, this felt like a book that tried too hard to do too much in many wrong ways.

Grade: C-

Wolverine: Weapon X
(Wolverine: Weapon X #9 - 16)

Writer Jason Aaron and the character of Wolverine have been a good fit. However, Wolverine: Weapon X had a rather uneven run of final issues. #10, which focused on Logan’s blossoming relationship with reporter Melita Garner was the best of the bunch. It was an interesting take on the romantic side of the hirsute mutant. Unfortunately, the “Tomorrow Dies Today” storyline wasn’t so hot. It was basically a Deathlok story crammed into a Wolverine book. There were some interesting ideas, but it went on an issue or two too long, despite having some great Ron Garney art. Wolverine: Weapon X ended with a quiet story about Logan dealing with Nightcrawler’s death, but it seemed to fit in what would appear to be Aaron’s plan to make Logan renounce his agnostic views.

Grade: C+

(Wolverine #1 – 4)

Marvel finally wised-up and gave Wolverine a book that was simply called Wolverine once again. The last one was morphed into Dark Wolverine and starred his son, Daken around the time Wolverine: Weapon X was launched. You’d think Daken would have received the new book and Jason Aaron would have simply taken over the existing Wolverine book, but it appeared that Marvel wanted a new book starring Logan to coincide with the release of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. However, I maintain that at some point Marvel will add up the previous two volumes of Wolverine and this book will get renumbered with a #300 in the near future.

So far, Wolverine has been okay. The idea is that a group of people that have had their lives harmed by Wolverine have banded together and found a way to send his soul to hell. In the meantime, Logan’s earthly vessel is running around and attacking associates of his. The execution has been okay, but I like the idea that Jason Aaron is bringing in various unconnected elements of Wolverine’s past (Japan, Weapon X, Madipoor, X-Men) and appears to tie it all together so that once Wolverine comes back, the character will be able to move forward with a little more focus.

Grade: B-

Daken: Dark Wolverine
(Dark Wolverine #82 - 90, Daken: Dark Wolverine #1 – 4)

Daken took over his father’s book, which was renamed Dark Wolverine, before getting his own relaunch at the end of the year with Daken: Dark Wolverine. Daken fills me with many mixed feelings. He can be a clever manipulator and a charming rogue, but then there are issues that are just Daken wandering a city, monologuing about how he could destroy us all if he so chooses. Those issues get really old quickly and don’t come across as clever as they may be intended by the writing team of Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu.

However, the first four issues of Daken: Dark Wolverine have not been too bad. It doesn’t hurt that Giuseppe Camuncoli has been delivering some great art. Also, the fourth issue tied back to the first and the most successful Dark Wolverine arc, “The Prince”. While I don’t completely buy the Fantastic Four’s quick trusting of Daken, they do make for some interesting associates for the lad. Also, Daken’s friendship with Johnny Storm is very interesting on many subtextual levels. I don’t see the Human Torch expanding his sexual pallet anytime soon, but Daken’s attraction to Johnny could provide both characters with interesting complications.

Grade: B-

(X-23 Special #1, X-23 #1 – 4)

Writer Marjorie Liu got her hands on X-23 earlier this year with a one-shot that had Wolverine’s clone daughter reconnect with her former cast mates from NYX. While the art was interesting and Liu appeared to have a capable grasp of the character, it also re-introduced ‘90s X-Villian the Gamesmaster as a potentially recurring nemesis. A strange pairing, indeed.

However, of the three Wolverine relaunch books, X-23 has been the best by a country mile. Liu has really tapped into Laura’s isolation and desire to understand herself. I wonder if Liu has been researching cases of teenage girls with Aspergers, which would certainly be one way of approaching X-23, a character that has trouble emotionally connecting with others.

The final issue of the year was the best of the bunch. Liu has decided to introduce Gambit as a sort of guardian/big brother figure to X-23. He’s trying to keep her out of trouble, but is very willing to let her find out things about herself on her own terms. Also, Liu is bringing in Ms. Sinister, a character concept introduced by Mike Carey a while back in X-Men: Legacy and I’m looking forward to what Liu does with her.

Grade: A

Next time I'll look back at more of the X-Men books that came out in 2010.

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