Wolverine: Prodigal Son

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 in Wolverine: Prodigal Son. This manga-style adaptation has story by Antony Johnston and art by Wilson Tortosa.

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.

Wolverine: Prodigal Son

… 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.)


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