Brian West

The Comic That Inspired “The Wolverine”; Revisiting Wolverine Vol. 1

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Think you know the story of “The Wolverine”? Bub, you only know the half of it..
Ever since he first appeared in the pages of the Incredible Hulk #180, Wolverine has been one of Marvels most read and watched heroes. I figured with “The Wolverine” currently clawing its way to box office success, it would be a good time to revisit the comic series that inspired it. In 1982 Wolverine got his first four issue solo series, written by Chris Claremont and penciled by Frank Miller, two of the best comic book men of our generation. It’s no surprise that their collaboration together would create such a tightly packed, character driven story. Wolverine’s first solo story might also be one of his best. This limited series tells a story of love, loss, and honor that needs to be read. Chris and Frank give us an ancient samurai story set in modern times that I never wanted to put down.
This four issue story arc follows Logan as he goes to Japan in search of his one love, Mariko. He soon finds her married off to an abusive man by her father, Lord Shingen. Already faced with losing his one love, Logan then faces his first real defeat at the hands of Lord Shingen. His failure is total, never has Wolverine lost so much that is important to him. For the first time Logan has a sense of vulnerability, he finally feels beatable. From there the story becomes one of Logan’s self redemption, all while fighting gangsters, samurai, and ninjas. This is after all a story set in Japan.

Wolverine 1-4 is also the perfect companion story to “The Wolverine”. To say that the movie draws from this classic comic storyline would be an understatement. The movie’s DNA is this story. Most the characters from the comic are in the movie. Some have been changed or altered to fit the story, but the impact each character has on Logan stays the same. The ending in the comic is also much more in line with the story. Unlike the movie, the comic doesn’t depart from the tone created in the first three chapters. Lastly, if you’re an old softy and wanted a more happy ending for Logan and Mariko than what the movie gave you, know that the comic ending is much more satisfying.

Reading the comic gives a better understanding of the characters motivations and interactions in the film. This is especially true in the movie’s fight between Logan and Lord Shingen. While there were many moments in “The Wolverine” adapted panel for panel from the comics, this fight stands out as one that had much more meaning for me having read the comic. Knowing the history between the two really upped the emotional impact of the their final theatrical showdown.

Wolverine vol. 1 is a must read for anyone who loves great story telling. Its a great starting point for new readers or any veteran comic book fan who just might of missed it. The comic, though old, aged well. It tells a great story of honor and redemption, and helps deepen the experience of seeing “The Wolverine”. I highly recommend picking up Wolverine vol. 1 at your local comic store, or downloading it onto any of your digital devices. This four issue series is a must have for any fan of our favorite adamantium clawed mutant.

Get Wolverine: Vol 1. right now on Comixology, woo digital comics!

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