Category Archives: Comics for Superhero Movie Fans

Comics for Superhero Movie Fans- All-New Wolverine

Today marks the release of “Logan,” the latest entry in the X-Men movie franchise and, assuming Hugh Jackman isn’t lying, his final turn as Wolverine after 17 years and eight prior outings as the character. The movie is earning rave reviews, particularly for its realistic violence (it’s rated R, somewhat of a rarity for superhero movies, though there are notable exceptions), lived-in Western aesthetic and compelling character work from Jackman as Wolverine/Logan, Sir Patrick Stewart as an aging Professor X and newcomer Dafne Keen as Laura, a young girl with claws of her own and superpowers similar to Wolverine’s. You may remember her from this final trailer for the movie:

Laura’s who we’re going to focus on here today. While the obvious recommendation as a tie-in to this movie would be “Old Man Logan,” the story upon which the movie is very loosely based, the fact is “Old Man Logan” is problematic in a number of ways and the movie basically just borrows some elements of the “Old Man Logan” setting and not much else. However, there is currently an ongoing series from Marvel about Laura having taken up the mantle of Wolverine after he died (minor spoiler; he’s been dead in the comics since late 2014), and it’s great. Presenting: “All-New Wolverine.”

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Copyright Marvel Comics

“All-New Wolverine, Vol. 1: The Four Sisters.”

Creators:

  • Written by Tom Taylor
  • Art by David Lopez, David Navarrot and Nathan Fairbairn

Necessary backstory:

Wolverine died in the aptly named “Death of Wolverine” miniseries in 2014, but before he died he discovered he had a female clone codenamed X-23 that been created as part of the Weapon X program, the same program that had given him his claws and indestructible skeleton. Wolverine helped X-23 escape from that life and learn her name, Laura Kinney. Now that Wolverine is dead, Laura has taken up his costume and superhero career.

Why this story?

Marvel has made a significant effort in recent years to diversify its superhero lineup, both by creating new heroes (most notably Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani Muslim teen with shapeshifting powers) and by passing old superhero identities on to either new characters or previously established ones. There’s a new woman Thor, Sam Wilson shares the Captain America identity with Steve Rogers, and most recently there’s a new black, teenage, female Iron Man. But of all these transitions, Laura taking up the mantle of Wolverine is arguably the most successful for one simple reason: The old Wolverine is dead.

While Steve Rogers is still fighting crime as Captain America, the original Thor is still having his own adventures and Tony Stark is lying in a coma, Laura doesn’t feel like an asterisk because her progenitor is well and truly gone. While it’s true that almost nobody stays dead in superhero comics forever, Marvel has really committed to making Laura the new Wolverine, freeing her to have her own adventures without constantly trying to get out from under the shadow of her predecessor.

It helps that Tom Taylor, David Lopez and the other creators do a phenomenal job telling Laura’s story. While there’s the necessary fluid, occasionally bloody action…

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Scene from “All-New Wolverine No. 2.” Copyright Marvel Comics
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Scene from “All-New Wolverine No. 4.” Copyright Marvel Comics

…Taylor also makes sure to give Laura a compelling personality and arc. In this first story, Laura discovers a group of clones of her that have been created by an evil pharmaceutical company for nefarious purposes. The story revolves around Laura becoming a protector and mentor figure for the girls, just as she was taken in and mentored by Logan before he died. It also shows her struggling to curb her more violent tendencies and showing the girls how they need to do the same, because none of them need to be defined by the fact that they were created to be weapons. It’s a great introduction to Laura Kinney and a great superhero story in its own right.

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Laura’s first appearance in full costume in “All-New Wolverine No. 1.” Copyright Marvel Comics

You can find “All-New Wolverine, Volume 1” at your local comics shop, online at Amazon.com and digitally at Comixology and other platforms.

Comics for Superhero Movie Fans- Batman: Year One

Hey everyone! This is the first entry in a new, occasional series I’ll be running called Comics for Superhero Movie Fans, in which I’ll be recommending comic books for people who like watching superheroes on the big screen.

Why comics? Well for one, it gives me an excuse to talk about comics, which is something I very much enjoy since I am a weekly comics reader. But mostly I want to encourage people to read the books that are the source material for today’s most popular movies (including “Star Wars”; Marvel is publishing a line of “Star Wars” comics set primarily between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” and since Disney now owns “Star Wars,” these comics are canon). While much is often changed or lost in the translation from page to screen, it’s still true that movie studios pull characters and entire storylines from comics, and comics also offer a rich vein of stories for people who enjoy seeing these colorful characters in action.

So, without further adieu, here’s my first recommendation, and it’s an easy one:

year-one-cover
Copyright DC Comics

“Batman: Year One”

Creators:

  • Written by Frank Miller.
  • Art by David Mazzucchelli
  • Coloring by Richmond Lewis
  • Lettering by Todd Klein

Necessary backstory:

  • The great thing about “Batman: Year One” is its brevity and simplicity; this is the definitive Batman origin story, and as such you don’t need any working knowledge of the broader DC Comics universe, which can be a hurdle for new readers on occasion. As long as you have some vague conception of who Batman is and what his deal is, you shouldn’t get lost.

Why this story?

  • As I just said, it’s the definitive Batman origin story. While Batman’s origin had been told before and has been retold since (we’ll likely get to his most recent origin story before long), these four issues sketch out a near-perfect story of how Bruce Wayne began his crime-fighting career. It’s the story everyone keeps going back to, including Christopher Nolan in his Batman trilogy and (to a lesser extent) Zack Snyder in “Batman v. Superman.”
  • You’ve likely already seen a handful of moments and characters from this comic. “Batman Begins” borrows the scene where Batman summons a massive colony of bats to protect him from overzealous police. In the comic, it looks like this:
yearone-bats
Copyright DC Comics.

“Batman Begins” also includes Detective Flass, the corrupt Gotham Police officer who’s also Jim Gordon’s partner (remember “SWEAR TO ME!”?). In “Year One” he has a much bigger role as an active antagonist to Gordon, though one of Gordon’s best moments in the story comes when he beats up Flass to show that he won’t be cowed by the corrupt officials in Gotham.

  • “Year One” is actually Frank Miller’s best Batman story. “The Dark Knight Returns” is often cited as his best, because it helped touch off the grim and gritty antihero period of comics, but “Year One” holds up better because it doesn’t have the uncomfortable authoritarian overtones of “Dark Knight” and it’s more interested in telling a Batman story than deconstructing Batman as a hero.
  • The art is fantastic. Miller is no slouch in the art department himself, but Mazzucchelli created a number of unforgettable images in this story, including Batman dropping in on a bunch of mobsters having dinner and a bat bursting in on Bruce Wayne as he recovers from his first, bloody night as a crime fighter.
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Copyright DC Comics
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Copyright DC Comics

That’s all for this first part in the series. Next up: A story from the gang at Marvel.