Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Scanned Thoughts: Origins II #1
I know I give Wolverine a hard time on this blog. Sometimes it seems like I take an extra bong hit and jerk off every time Wolverine makes an ass of himself or gets upstaged by Cyclops in the comics, but that's not the case. I take an extra bong hit and jerk off for whatever the fuck reason I want, thank you very much. But lately, a lot of Wolverine's story has been tied up in his work with the Jean Grey Institute, his constant bickering with Cyclops, and a supremely shitty movie that basically turned him into Edward Cullen without the sparkling. It's easy to forget that Wolverine is still one of the most awesome comic book characters ever. I certainly haven't forgotten and given all the brain cells I've killed over the years, nobody has any excuse. So I did even more extra bong hits when I heard that Kieron Gillen was returning to the X-books to write a sequel to Wolverine Origins, a mini-series by Paul Jenkins that any self-respecting Wolverine fan needs to own. It basically goes back to the very shit that made Wolverine so awesome in the first place. For that and many other reasons, reading and reviewing Origins II #1 was a reminder that awesome still exists in an era where Bryan Singer has fucked Wolverine up for a generation of comic book fans.
At this point in his life, James Howlett, the man who would become the Wolverine that Hugh Jackman would use to soak the panties of female X-men fans, has ditched a typical human life. Wolverine has just killed Rose, the woman who established the precedent for him falling in love with pretty redheads that didn't love him back. It also set the precedent for him stabbing pretty redheads, but that's not the point here. Her death basically drove him batshit with guilt because at this point in his life, he hadn't gotten used to killing people. Just wait until he tears through hoards of Weapon X soldiers and Hydra agents. He'll learn to kill with a goddamn smile and a boner, but he's just not there yet. It follows closely after the events of the first Origins, which may be jarring to some since that shit came out over a decade ago. But it's not Marvel's fault that many people have attention spans only as long as Miley Cyrus's last music video.
Now in the wild and wiping his ass with leaves, he spends his day hunting down other weaker animals for food in the wild Canadian wilderness. And he even does it while wearing nothing but a fucking loin cloth. At temperatures that would cause most peoples' nuts to fall off, he's as comfortable as Pamela Anderson at a fake tits convention. He's not Weapon X yet. He's not an X-men yet. He's not even Wolverine yet. He's living as an animal, ruled by instinct and survival. He's basically a proto-Wolverine and yet he's still as awesome as the man he later becomes.
But the story isn't just pre-Wolverine hunting for food in his underwear. That would be a pretty boring ass story, except for women who are tired of masturbating to Tarzan wannabes. Throughout this issue, there's sort of an over-arching narration. It's not Wolverine's thoughts. It's not clear who the fuck it is, but it doesn't have to be anyone. It helps explain a situation that would otherwise be just a guy hanging out with a pack of wolves. This isn't the fucking Jungle Book. This is Wolverine and his story with these wolves would not make the cut in a crappy Disney G-rated movie.
These wolves are basically Wolverine's new family. Having reverted to his most primal instincts, he now gets along quite nicely with equally primal animals, like wolves. The wolf even has a name, Grey Scar. It sounds like the name of a heavy metal band, shady pharmaceutical company, or a fucked up scar that Jackie Chan probably had at some point in his career. But it's still a badass name for a wolf. And this wolf is basically the head of a pack that has adopted Wolverine as one of its own. So yes, it is a lot like the Jungle Book, but the Jungle Book never showed anyone gutting a dear and gorging on its blood. That shit is just too PG-13 for Disney's tastes, but it gets the point across. Wolverine has built a new life with a new family. That life is still violent and bloody, but it's awesomely fitting.
Everything seems to be going well. It's a simple life devoid of redheads incessantly cock-teasing him, asshole adopted fathers, and shitty adopted brothers like Dog Logan making his life miserable. It's one of those "back to nature" moments that's meant to make us long for a simpler existence that doesn't require us to pay taxes, work in cubicles, or stand in line at the DMV. It sounds good on paper, but it sucks for everyone who doesn't have Wolverine's ability to heal and his ability to be a badass hunter.
However, in the same way he tends to give the finger to Cyclops, Captain America, and anyone else who tries to give him orders, he goes against the sentiment of his pack when they come across a large white bear. His pack leaves it while Wolverine decides to investigate. Considering a bear is big and strong enough to maul three normal men and six adult wolves, its a clear sign of human stupidity that would make Charles Darwin himself bang his head against the wall. Wolverine just has to tempt natural selection and look into this mysterious bear. It's clear what's so fucking special about this bear. The narration is a big vague and nobody even says a fucking word in this comic. So it's a story that has to be processed with a sober mind sadly.
As Wolverine stalks the bear, he makes Charles Darwin bang his head against the wall for another set of reasons. He finds out that the bear isn't exactly Winnie the Pooh or a disgruntled circus bear for that matter. It's just hungry as fuck and apparently a really shitty hunter. Natural selection is already poised to send this bear to the same place it sent a T-Rex, but Wolverine took pity on it in a way a pack of hungry wolves never would. He tried to help it by leaving it fruit, but he might as well have tried to serve light beer to Ozzy Osborne. It just wasn't going to do the trick. He eventually gives up and returns to his pack, but it shows that he's still more man than wolf, albeit with some of the stupider tendencies in men.
I don't know if this is a metaphor for how shitty human beings are at fending for themselves in the wild or if this is just a sign of Wolverine's capacity for making shitty mistakes because of his instincts. This is where not having any fucking dialog sort of makes the story confusing. The message is still clear and it's still much more compelling than a typical story of Wolverine decapitating several Hydra henchmen. It's just too vague, especially for those of us who don't read comics sober. And I'm pretty sure that counts as discrimination in some states.
Whatever the message, the story continues to play out through the eyes of a wolf pack. A few days go by. All is happy with Wolverine and his wolf family. They cuddle, lick each other's hair, maul unsuspecting prey, and mark their territory with their piss. I imagine Led Zepplin used to do the same thing with their groupies. But then one day they're out in the forest hunting when one of the wolves howls out a distress call. Remember that bear that Wolverine took pity on? Well that bear didn't have much pity for him or his family. Once that bear found their den, he helped himself to all the sweet, succulent meat of the other wolves.
It's bloody, it's tragic, and it's definitely the kind of shit that would never make the cut in the Jungle Book. It's one of those things that shouldn't have an impact. I'm sure there are bears out there right now mauling entire packs of wolf cubs, but this has an impact because so much time has been spent making readers give a damn about Wolverine and his wolf family. And it fucking worked. Anyone who saw Bambi as a kid might have painful flashbacks, but that's nothing a few extra bong hits can't help.
Needless to say, Wolverine is pretty pissed off. He just got done killing a pretty girl he really cares about and who may or may not eventually let him touch her boobs. Now this new family that he cares about just got mauled by some douche-bag creature that he actually tried to help. It's as if karma took the form of a hooker and an IRS agent and proceeded to fuck Wolverine over in the worst possible ways. It leads to some much more visceral action that we're supposed to all associate with Wolverine. It's still the kind of bloody shit that Animal Planet goes to great lengths to water down, but it highlights a basic primal reaction from a guy who runs on basic primal action like I run on whiskey. It seems a little too basic, but it works because this is still a man in the process of becoming Wolverine.
That process gets sped up pretty damn quickly. This isn't as simple as just pouncing on a deer, slitting its throat, and gorging on the bloody flesh that comes off the bone. This is a fucking bear that just got its fill of baby wolves. It's like fighting Mike Tyson after he has done six lines of blow. And this is a Wolverine that doesn't have adamantium bones or any significant combat training. So it's not as fair a fight as it would be if it took place on one of Wolverine's off-days from pissing off Cyclops and Captain America. He gets more bloodied than Rocky after 10 rounds with Ivan Drago. It's bloody, but it's pretty fucking awesome. It goes on for multiple pages with some very graphic and very very well-drawn carnage. Again, it's basic and detailed to the point of being excessive. There's no words or narration. It's just Wolverine fighting a bear. That's pretty damn awesome in and of itself, but it's not going to soak anyone's panties.
When the fighting eventually ends, there are no winners. It's like getting Rick James and Chris Brown high on crack and unleashing them in a Tijuana whore house. Nothing good could possibly come of it. The bear is dead. Wolverine is more bloodied than the entire cast of Saving Private Ryan at the end. And his wolf family is still dead. Maybe this is another metaphor for Wolverine's life. He fights and bloodies everyone that fucks with him, but in the end it doesn't undo how badly he is fucked over or bring back the loved ones he has lost. It's pretty fucking depressing in the grand scheme of things. Then again, Wolverine has had a pretty depressing life and this isn't even top 10. But it still gets the point across. It's a little esoteric for those just wanting to read a story about Wolverine fighting and killing things. Those are the same people that give Michael Bay no incentive to include some actual fucking story in his movies. So fuck those people.
It is depressing, but it still feels satisfying. While Wolverine is lying bloodied and battered, the lone wolf that had been stalking his family's den earlier dropped by to scavenge on the corpses. He stabs the little shit in the head before he can get the satisfaction. That lone wolf is probably the least sympathetic character in the entire story, but one that might as well be Wolverine in the future. Given all the lone wolfing he's done, he is setting himself up to really hate himself. It ends in the same way the previous Origins ended, with him surrounded in a pool of blood from his loved ones. It's the all too tragic story of Wolverine's life and while it's hard to feel too bad for a guy who grows up to bone Mystique and Storm, it's a story that should remind people why Wolverine is so awesome in the first place.
So there was no talking in this comic. There was only the kind of narration that came off as a mix between Morgan Freeman and Martin Sheen. But that's okay because this issue was a massive exercise in action speaking louder than words. I know everybody hears that shit from their boss, their girlfriend, their parents, or their parole officer. More often than not, it's just a polite way of calling someone a lazy dipshit. However, in this instance, it conveyed a special kind of insight into the twisted psyche that is Wolverine. At his heart, he is an animal. He functions like an animal and this was a period in his life where he ditched the human world completely and embraced the animal. And in many ways, being an animal offered many parallels to being human. I don't know if that's just a hidden message that humans are a pack of blood-thirsty wolves at the end of the day, but it makes for a great story and one that has a touch of heart. PETA lovers may cry and vomit. Wolverine fans may cry and cheer. For that reason, I give Origins II #1 a 7 out of 10. It doesn't do much or do anything for Wolverine's character that hasn't been done before, but it does make him awesome again. It's like reminding someone it's still possible to jerk off to old episodes of Charlie's Angels. It's not just nostalgia. It just shows that some shit never stops being awesome. Nuff said!