ADVANCE REVIEW: X-Men: Original Sin #1

Writers: Mike Carey & Daniel Way

Artists: Scott Eaton & Mike Dedato Jnr.

Publisher: Marvel Comics

OK, so let’s get my usual rant out of the way first. I have a big problem with Wolverine: Origins. Daniel Way’s book is the second ongoing series for Logan, exploring the return of his memories since the House of M storyline – which involves even further mystery, intrigue, and re-booting of past events. Now, I take the creative argument offered by some at Marvel that it was high time the character evolved beyond his hidden memories of an obviously violent and shady past; but if it was a creative decision, surely the powers that be at Marvel should see sense and admit that, even given the crazy world of super-heroes and time compression across different storylines, Wolverine can’t possibly appear in the New Avengers, X-Men, and two separate solo adventures at the same time?

On this basis, despite my love for the character, I have boycotted Origins, which means that, despite trying to keep abreast of plot developments through various sources, I can’t comment on the quality of what Way et al. have been producing. That is, until the upcoming crossover with Mike Carey’s X-Men: Legacy appeared on the horizon. Having read the story’s prologue in Origins #28, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the nuances and delivery of the story, and the re-boot of Wolverine’s original battle with the Hulk and Wendigo was rather nicely handled. (That said, the whole idea of Wolverine having a long-lost son does seems like a bit of a cheap trick to me.)

And so, I entered X-Men: Original Sin #1, part 1 of a 5-part story arc, with rather more optimism than I was initially anticipating. The background to this crossover is rather simple, but reads like a natural culmination of both storylines. In addition to Logan’s quest, Professor Xavier, having lost many of his memories since being shot by Bishop, is busy trying to piece his life together. Now, it transpires that there is much more to Xavier and Logan’s intertwined history than previously told (surprise!), as modern day events catch up with the past, and both protagonists will no doubt have to live with the consequences.

This issue is actually very nicely balanced between establishing the parameters for what comes next, developing each character’s motivations, and delivering on a little action too. Wolverine visits the X-Men to try and find a telepath capable of helping his son, Daken, from reverting back into a killing machine. He inadvertently discovers that Xavier is alive, and sets off to track him down, believing the Professor can help Daken in the same way he was helped so many years ago.

Way and Carey seem to have combined to do a solid job on the writing front. Carey, particularly, continues to have such a natural way with character, and the re-emergence of Mrs. Sinister is given just the right amount of crazy, creating a nice re-invention of the Sinister persona. For a story that’s supposedly about revelations and discovery, however, there is not much in the way of disclosure, and we are still none the wiser about the first meeting of Xavier and Wolverine teased at the conclusion of Origins #28.

Just as the writing duties are split between the series regulars, both artists also get an opportunity to shine. Mike Dedato’s work on this issue is fantastic: its gritty when it needs to be (pretty regularly then!), but impressively he displays a far bigger range, and his depiction of the original ‘New X-Men’ is near-on perfect, maintaining the tone of the current story while paying homage to the cleaner, lighter style of the period. Dedato experiments with some interesting and off-kilter panel layouts; they don’t always work but overall it nicely enhances the dynamism and alacrity of the situation. Dedato seems such a natural fit for a Wolverine book, though only a couple of months after it was announced that he would be the new regular on Origins, he was lined up as the penciller for the new Dark Reign inspired Dark Avengers, so I assume the former will now only be a short-term gig (though what are the chances of Wolverine appearing regularly in DA?)

Sharing the art duties with Dedato is Legacy regular penciller Scott Eaton. I’m still not entirely convinced that Eaton’s work pulls enough punch for what should be a top Marvel title, and here he shows his inconsistency – excellent on relaying emotion in the close-ups, with some other nice panels sprinkled throughout, but with a lack of attention to detail in others, which leaves characters looking rather squashed and out-of-sorts. But it is certainly more than serviceable stuff, and while different in style to Dedato, it isn’t so much so that issue loses its integrity as a coherent story.

This issue contains 24 pages of original content, and carries on the recent Marvel tradition for one-off books and mini-series carrying an increased cover price of $3.99. I’ll keep my second rant very short – I really hope this doesn’t continue for long, though I have a feeling it’s only likely to expand to more titles. At least there is additional content here in the form of a re-print; ‘First Night’ from Classic X-Men #1. This is actually a nice little story focusing on the aftermath of the New X-Men’s original battle with the island Krakoa, with some lovely early John Bolton art. But it certainly isn’t obvious at this point where on earth this old story impacts on the new, and so despite it looking pretty, it comes across as merely filler.

This aside, Original Sin has all the makings of a well constructed crossover emerging organically from a wider storyline (or two). Hopefully this will begin to tie up some of the loose ends hanging over Wolverine’s past, while moving Carey’s Legacy book down some exciting new avenues. Anything Mike Carey does, especially in the X-Universe, is pretty much guaranteed to be driven by strong character development and just an overall sense of quality. And all credit to Daniel Way, as it doesn’t really read like a book written by different creators; yes, the artwork divides the story into two chapters, but the book retains a sense of a coherent whole, which can only serve the upcoming arc well. But maybe I’m a little Wolverine-jaded these days; I’m actually looking forward to reading this crossover more now than I was a couple of months back, but I’m still not as excited about Original Sin as perhaps I should be.

Rating: 7/10