Wolverine: Prodigal Son

Wolverine, the Marvel Comics superhero with the mysterious past and the magical healing factor, has been reinvented as a lonely teen martial artist.

Wolverine: Prodigal Son cover
Wolverine: Prodigal Son
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Logan is the best in his class at the remote Canadian school where he trains, beating even Tamara, the teacher’s daughter and a talent in her own right. He’s an unusually fast-healing “freak”, but he’s also quite attractive, with tousled long hair, a brooding glare, and a well-built body under leather jacket. As an orphan, he knows nothing beyond his time at the school, and his challenge is to overcome his hubris. After he and his trainer visit New York, the book takes a more superhero-like turn, with the exposure of his claws, a psychic supervillain, and an overwhelming (yet cliched) reason for Wolverine to vow revenge.

The many fight scenes are dramatic, but I couldn’t always tell the details of what I was supposed to be seeing due to the number of speed lines. I didn’t mind much — I’m ok with fight scenes being confusing and off-putting, since that’s true of the underlying violence, too. The reactions are exaggerated, stereotypically manga-ish, and events heightened.

The introduction, credited to “the Del Rey Manga team”, suggests that manga readers aren’t exactly the target audience.

… whether you’ve read X-Men comics or you’re coming to this book from seeing Logan in films, it doesn’t matter much. You’re going to find something entirely new here.

And that makes sense. A manga reader interested in the story of a young martial artist avenging the death of someone close to him has many many other options, most of which don’t have the baggage of the licensed name. And many of them go on for more than two volumes, providing a longer, more in-depth experience. A superhero reader, on the other hand, is used to alternate versions of favorite characters, so this might seem like an intriguing spin, especially given Logan’s history of interaction with Japanese culture.

I also think this is an excellent choice for anyone attracted by the movie. Unlike the Marvel superhero comics, it’s a simple selection that captures key elements of the appeal of the character without a lot of extraneous material or overwhelming history. Although the story isn’t concluded under these covers, there’s a substantial amount of story here. (As there should be, since it’s $12.99, $2 more than the usual Del Rey manga.)

I think this is also the only Wolverine story I’ve ever read with an actual wolverine in it.

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

14 Comments

  1. Huh.. I didn’t know Del Rey was doing these. Is there a list for what else they plan?

  2. There’s one other in the works, an X-Men shojo due out in July. That one is written by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, so it should be good.

  3. […] (Tangognat) Oyceter on vols. 2 and 3 of Pumpkin Scissors (Sakura of DOOM) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Wolverine: Prodigal Son (Comics Worth Reading) John Thomas on vol. 1 of Wolverine: Prodigal Son (Comics […]

  4. So is this something that’s 5th-6th grade appropriate? I know my boys (and some girls) would enjoy a Wolverine book – especially done in the manga style – but I don’t want to get something for them that will get me calls from angry parents.

  5. Nothing stands out as worse than your usual superhero comic. I don’t recall right now whether Del Rey uses ratings.

  6. They use the word “asshole” in the book which would definitely piss off some of the parents I know.

  7. Good catch, thanks.

  8. Thanks Chris R. It definitely makes it inappropriate for my library. It’s always good to know these things before I lay out the funds.

  9. Ed Sizemore

    Kiki, just got a copy of the book. It has a 13+ rating on the back. Mostly language and violence from what I’ve read so far.

  10. […] this year, Del Rey (in conjunction with Marvel) published Wolverine: Prodigal Son, a shonen manga take on the loner with a healing factor. I thought it wasn’t bad, but I was […]

  11. […] with Rurouni Kenshin, a historical samurai story with lots of people with exaggerated abilities. Or Wolverine: Prodigal Son, a manga take on the superhero character. […]

  12. […] (4/12/10) The followup to the other Del Rey-licensed Marvel manga, Wolverine: Prodigal Son, has also been cancelled, according to writer Antony Johnston. As he posted, Unfortunately, the […]

  13. when are they making #2

  14. Unfortunately, never. Plans for a second book have been canceled.

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