Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Author: Anthony Johnston
Artist: Wilson Tortosa
Genre: Graphic Novel (Del Rey Manga)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: T (13+)
Release Date: Available Now
This is definitely not your older brother’s Wolverine.
While my early love has always been manga, at some point in every red-blooded American male with a fondness for comics has picked up an issue of X-Men. Out of the number of characters that make up the team, it is clearly the Canadian mutant named Wolverine is the one that stands out to the point that he does so in the three X-Men movies released. He even has his own comic series as well as the Wolverine: X-Men Origins movie that came out this summer. Now, he’s the star of his own shonen manga that reinvents all that we know about Wolvie with Wolverine: Prodigal Son, Volume 1.
I should mention that writer Anthony Johnston and artist Wilson Johnson don’t take away the elements that make Logan/Wolverine such a unique character nor do they completely alter his look … although this Logan is a lot younger than the Wolverine we know. Logan is still a rebellious misfit who (thanks to his abilities to heal wounds at an accelerated rate, heightened senses and his claws that pop out of his hands) is seen as a freak by the students of Quiet Earth … a dojo hidden in the Canada wilderness. Logan’s past is still shrouded in mystery and he has no memory of what led his parents to abandon him in the doorstep of Quiet Earth where he grew up with his sensei’s daughter, Tamara.
As a student at Quiet Earth, Logan is at the top of his class when it comes to fighting. He has beaten every student there including Tamara as her father, Elliott, watches over the boy they had come to nickname “Wolverine” because of an event in the boy’s past. He even beat a boy who was considered the best fighter in his class … a loss the boy didn’t take lightly to the point of leaving the school. Logan is thirsty for a challenge seeing as he’s the only one in the dojo capable of healing broken bones in minutes. So, Mr. Elliott obliges with a test that many of Quiet Earth students have failed.
Along with Tamara, Logan attempts the trials only to rely on his extraordinary abilities to meet each trail’s challenge. In the end, Logan passes the trail and requests a challenge worthy of his abilities and, perhaps, to go out into the world at last. He gets his wish when Elliott decides to give him a little tour of New York City … a place far too overwhelming for a boy who grew up in the wild. Everything in the city seems confusing and overwhelming to Logan as the pair enter a school similar to Quiet Earth called Oasis that is run by an old student of Elliott’s named Carter. It is here that Logan experiences his first defeat in the hands of a fellow student … and it is here that Logan goes berserk and pops his claws much like the Wolverine we know.
After getting kick out of Oasis, Logan and Elliott are attacked by mercenaries in black. They are led by a woman who speaks without even opening her mouth … which could only mean that this woman called Lady Silence might just be a mutant. Taking Elliott hostage, Logan’s mentor orders his student to run and he does … back to Quiet Earth where he makes a most grisly discovery. Just about the only thing left from the school is Tamara who blames Logan for what happened to the school and its students. When an old adversary makes an appearance to battle Logan one-on-one, it becomes clear that it is Logan this secret organization was looking for in the first place.
Anthony Johnston and Wilson Tortosa offer their own take on a favorite Marvel Comics character and does so with a style that definitely does justice to the character. Wolverine: Prodigal Son, Volume 1, is not only a great story but it also opens up new possibilities for manga. I certainly applaud Marvel Comics for allowing Del Rey Manga to offer their own manga spin on a favorite and hope that they would be open to do so with other Marvel franchises. Until then, consider Prodigal Son in the highly recommended list for those that love a good shonen manga or Wolverine.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
An interesting twist in the origins of everyone’s favorite mutant and X-Men, Logan is a young student of a martial arts dojo in search of a real challenge. Born with unusual abilities, Logan manages to tackle a challenge that leads him away from the dojo to the city. Unfortunately, a mercenary group is hot on his trail as all that Logan knew is destroyed right before his very eyes.
Wilson Tortosa adds his own personal touch to Logan without completely altering the original vision of what the character looks like. He also handles action sequences wonderfully and doesn’t go overboard on the gore.
Volume 1 of Wolverine: Prodigal Son takes everything we thought we knew about Wolverine and pumps new blood into the origins of a favorite Marvel character. Logan’s origin is actually just as interesting in Johnston and Tortosa’s hands as it is in Marvel’s and it is evident by the character driven story that Wolverine certainly can find a place in a manga series.