Review

Wolverine: Prodigal Son, Volume 1

written by Antony Johnston, illustrated by Wilson Tortosa

It’s Wolverine! Everyone’s favorite superhero! As an emo teen…with anime hair…

Really, it’s not as bad as it sounds. WOLVERINE: PRODIGAL SON is a reimagining of Logan’s back story in manga form. Years ago, a wolverine left a young boy at the “Quiet Earth” dojo’s doorstep. He has no memories of his past, only that his name is Logan. With Sensei Elliott as his only parental figure, Logan grows up constantly feeling out of place and different from everyone around him. You’d think he’d get used to the life after 10 years and not feel so alone, but then he wouldn’t have all that dark, teen angst that will eventually culminate and turn him into the badass we all know and love.

Logan is unfortunately very typical, at least to begin with. In addition to being a cold, lone wolf archetype, he’s the best fighter in the school; even sending the former top student scampering off with his tail between his legs. No way that guy will ever reappear exactly 100 pages later to exact his revenge in a completely over-the-top manner.

That was sarcasm…just FYI.

In order to prove that he’s ready to go out and see the world, he takes up his sensei’s “Wind, Wood & Water” test, which, within the manga’s content, doesn’t seem as impossible as Antony Johnston plays it up to be. Logan and his obligated-plucky, teacher’s-daughter female lead Tamara pass the test, only to reveal his darkest secret, the claws within his hands.

This is where the book starts to turn around. Sensei Elliott takes Logan on a trip to New York City, where the culture shock brings out a whole other side of him. Logan quickly takes offense to a man who bumps into him. He’s overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and noise. He even visits a dojo with students more talented than he. From this event and the ones that unfold afterward, the reader is granted a rarely seen glimpse of Logan’s vulnerability and innocence.

The book’s most unique trait is that it contains an entire chapter with absolutely no dialogue. The scene involves running away, and the lack of words drives home how absolutely alone, uninformed and terrified Logan is during the ordeal. He doesn’t know whom to trust, and his thoughts can be read on his face.

The art style is very East meets West, but it almost feels as if this is Wilson Tortosa’s interpretation of what manga should look like. Mostly, it’s the big eyes and hairstyles that give this impression. He also uses angled cells, but they never overlap. Almost all the action has speed lines, which makes them very noticeable. Fortunately, the action is still easy enough to follow without sending anyone who passed high school physics into a tizzy. Otherwise, the figures and faces are more Western style, giving the overall design a very well balanced look.

In the last few chapters of the book, it appears that the series will continue into more of a Western-style story where there are heroes and villains who all have both superpowers and catchy pseudonyms. Volume one introduces a villain, as well as a coming opponent, without giving too much away too soon.

WOLVERINE: PRODIGAL SON is a great book for any Marvel fan looking to try something new, even if it’s not for the hardcore Wolverine purist. This book is appropriate for a teen and older audience and is executed solidly enough to please any reader.

Reviewed by Courtney Kraft on April 7, 2009

Wolverine: Prodigal Son, Volume 1
written by Antony Johnston, illustrated by Wilson Tortosa

  • Publication Date: April 7, 2009
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN-10: 0345505166
  • ISBN-13: 9780345505163