Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LOGAN: PATH OF THE WARLORD #1 - February 1996

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), John Paul Leon (penciler), Shawn Martinbrough (inker), Gregory Wright (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

Summary: In Japan, Logan has begun work for Landau, Luckman, and Lake. His boss, Chang, has assigned him to protect a scientist, Dr. Carling, and his daughter Rose. Logan kills Carling’s pursuer, Kimora. Years later, Chang asks Logan, who now seeks peace, to rejoin LL&L and complete his mission. Chang unveils LL&L’s interdimensional transport system, explaining that Dr. Carling developed interdimensional travel years ago. In another dimension, he fell in love with a woman and fathered Rose. This world was ruled by the immortal Kimora, who wanted Carling’s technology. Carling’s wife was killed, and he fled the parallel dimension with Rose. Kimora followed him, and somehow survived his encounter with Wolverine. Now, Kimora has returned to his dimension through a small wormhole, but he still seeks Carling’s technology to make interdimensional transport stable. Logan travels with Chang to Kimora’s world, where they’re joined by the now-grown Rose. After breaking into Kimora’s fortress, Kimora kills Carling in front of Logan. Logan kicks Kimora into an unstable transport, trapping him in-between dimensions forever. Back home, Chang suggests Rose join Logan as his partner.

Continuity Notes: There are hints that Rose could be Lady Deathstrike, as she’s able to morph her fingers into claws. However, this was most likely a misdirection. Rose is apparently Rose Wu, Wolverine’s friend from Madripoor who can change shape.

Production Note: This is another $5.99 bookshelf format special with no ads.

Review: It seems like a six-dollar special about Wolverine’s past should connect with the character in some significant way. An early adventure with LL&L and his possible first meeting with Rose Wu don’t strike me as “significant.” Landau, Luckman, and Lake is the mystery organization that Wolverine uses to “handle affairs” that goes back to the Claremont days. Larry Hama began to use them regularly towards the end of his Wolverine run, playing up Claremont’s hints that the group had interdimensional origins. There are questions that could be answered regarding LL&L and Wolverine, but this story certainly doesn’t answer them. It’s also written by Howard Mackie, who had nothing to do with the character at the time, so it’s not as if he had some insight into Hama’s plans (as Hama told a fan on Usenet, he didn’t even know this comic was happening until it was published). You would think the regular Wolverine writer would be the person called upon to write one-shots about the character’s past, but clearly Marvel didn’t agree.

Now, if you are going to do a story about Wolverine’s life pre-Weapon X, I’m not sure if pitting him against an interdimensional warlord is really the best way to go. This era seems like prime material for crime stories, martial arts adventures, or just stories about Wolverine’s life in Canada with Silver Fox or any of the other interchangeable women from his past. Interdimensional travel is taking him into X-Men territory years before he’ll meet the team, and it’s not really suited for John Paul Leon’s art anyway. The story tries for a character arc, as Logan is warned by a generic sensei to control his animal urges and, shockingly enough, later has to control his rage while fighting Kimora in the climax. We’ve seen the old “Wolverine fights his animal rage” bit before, and Mackie doesn’t have a new angle for it. He also isn’t able to give the characters personality, or make the reader care if they live or die or not, as evidenced by Carling's emotionless death scene. Everyone’s there to fulfill their role in the story and that’s it. I’m not sure how well these prestige format books sold, but I think Marvel made a lot of fans reluctant to support the format with this one.


The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

If I recall correctly this book was a big deal at the time of its release because it was one of the very first Wolverine (maybe the first since the BWS Weapon X?) stories dealing with the time before he got his adamantium. It seems odd now but back then there was a great deal of pent-up demand for stories about Logan's origins, and this was solicited specifically with that in mind.

And then it came out, and other than it looking pretty nice it did absolutely nothing for anyone, and sort of soured people on the idea of reading more stories about pre-Weapon X Wolverine because it became obvious that Marvel never had a real plan to roll out any "answers," because there were no "answers."

Oh, if only we could have seen just a few years into the future . . .

G. Kendall said...

Outside of Weapon X, I can’t immediately think of any decent Wolverine prequel stories. Some of the flashbacks within the main stories were good, but I can’t think of any standalone prequel story that wasn’t ultimately pointless. I still can’t believe Hollywood made a Wolverine solo movie and they wasted it on a crappy prequel story.

Teebore said...

Landau, Luckman, and Lake is the mystery organization that Wolverine uses to “handle affairs” that goes back to the Claremont days.

Do you recall offhand where Claremont setup LLL? I can't place it. Was it early in the Wolvie ongoing series?

G. Kendall said...

Yes, it was early in his solo book. Chang was killed by Bloodscream and/or Roughhouse in the LL&L Madripoor office.

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