Monday, June 29, 2009

Manga Monday: Wolverine

Wolverine: Prodigal Son (Volume 1)
Antony Johnston & Wilson Tortosa
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It was only a matter of time before Wolverine made the leap to OEL manga, and here it is under the care of Antony Johnston (Wasteland) and Wilson Tortosa (Battle of the Planets), who retell Wolverine's story and origin for their manga universe. In this version of his backstory, Wolverine was left at the door of "Quiet Earth," a school that teaches young students how to defend themselves, and shares earthy wisdom. A wolverine was standing over Logan in the doorway, thus his "codename" was attached to him. When Wolverine first joined the school, he bested the original champion of the school, who immediately left in disgrace, but of course, his story isn't over as he brings the real threat to Logan at their front door much later in the story. Wolverine, like in his superhero appearances, is not a people person: he's a broody loner who goes off into berserker rages when things don't go well for him. But he makes a few friends and his teacher sees the potential in him, which is how Logan became the first student to pass the "Wind, Wood and Water" test. All of this is fine, but it really lacks imagination. It seems like both of the creators on this book had an idea of what manga should look like and applied them to this work. Johnston's ideas are so basic and par-for-the-course when it comes to action manga that it's utterly tame and boring when held up to other works with schools that train students to fight - this is a complete embarrassment when held up against something like Naruto. And Tortosa's art doesn't fare much better. While the sketches in back show a lot of potential for the character designs, when executed it just looks hastily executed, with seeming little intuition for what looks aesthetically pleasing. And the action scenes are a mess, the artist resorting to action lines constantly to the point that it's difficult to see past them to the actual action being depicted. I think there is a lot of potential in Wolverine the character to translate to manga in a good way, but this just isn't it. And any characters beyond Logan in this title are complete throw-away characters with no personality or character traits of their own whatsoever. One thing I can give this book is that the artist and writer seem well suited for each other...

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