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May 8

Life of Wolverine Infinity Comic

Posted on Sunday, May 8, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Ramon Bachs
Colourist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Mark Basso

Life of Wolverine was a companion piece to the ten-week X Lives and X Deaths of Wolverine – mainly to Lives, really. Technically it takes place during X Lives of Wolverine, as Jean Grey is sending Wolverine back in time and seeing his whole life. What that means in practice, of course, is openly acknowledged in the listing for issue #1: “For the first time ever, explore the history of Wolverine in chronological order!”

And that’s exactly what it is. It’s a recap book. There are a handful of original panels but no new events, unless you count Logan arriving in Madripoor for the first time. For continuity nerds, the book has some further details about the precise sequence in which assorted flashback stories take place; and yes, I’ll go back and revise some of the earlier Incomplete Wolverine posts to reflect that (and X Lives) at some point.

There are a couple of interesting points about this, though. For one thing, it’s clearly intended to serve as a counterpart to the scattershot approach to Logan’s history taken in the non-linear X Lives. You want something a bit clearer that spells out all the back story? Well, here it is. But… part of the point of X Lives, at least as I read it, is that the details of Logan’s back story aren’t all that important. It’s the big picture, however hazy and impressionistic, that all feeds together into making him who he is. So to take this approach, and spell out precisely how it all fits together, is kind of missing the point. Which makes Life of Wolverine feel slightly odd as a companion piece.

Still, there’s a place for it. It’s a book for newer readers who aren’t so familiar with the vast and unwieldy back story that Logan drags around after him, and who need a whistlestop tour of that stuff precisely so that they can grasp how much of it there is. If you’re coming at X Lives more or less fresh, then sure, something along these lines is probably a worthwhile orientation. And it’s got a workable afterlife as an introductory book that Marvel Unlimited can point to.

Besides, the other surprising thing about Life of Wolverine is that it actually exists as something more than just a collection of recycled panels from other comics. Jim Zub and Ramon Bachs are a significantly better creative team than you’d expect to find on a book like this, taking on the thankless task of trying to wrestle a recap of Wolverine continuity into some sort of story.

How do you approach that? Partly by focussing on the stories that draw out common themes. Wolverine’s history doesn’t really work as a story when you descend into the details, but at a macro level there’s a certain structure to it. He starts off as a rich kid, he falls from grace, he succumbs to his animal tendencies, he loses direction and lets people exploit him as a weapon (and gets exploited more than he realises), he ultimately resists and proves he can’t be controlled, and finally he turns the corner and starts to rebuild his sense of self-worth and decency, until he redeems himself as an X-Man and by proving himself to Mariko.

Partly, though, some of the impressionistic quality is retained just by a torrent of passing references and an open acknowledgement that some areas of his history consist of scattered and disconnected stories. Most of it is the key lynchpins that really matter. OriginOrigin II. First visit to Madripoor. Sabretooth. Silver Fox. Ogun. But there’s also less obvious stuff. Marc Guggenheim’s Lazaer arc gets a surprising amount of space. His first meeting with Mystique, which is from a Jason Aaron / Ron Garney arc that’s quite good but not especially significant. A David Lapham one-shot gets a mention. And so on. It’s more than just the key points of continuity, and by throwing in some of this stuff it keeps the torrential quality of Wolverine’s history. There are a few points where the book just throws up its hands and declared that one story blurs into another for a period.

As in X Lives, there’s a marked lack of enthusiasm for Romulus on display here. He gets a couple of mentions in passing, downgraded to just one manipulator among many. Quite a bit of Wolverine: Origins is mentioned here, but Romulus has mostly been airbrushed out of it. Good call; he flattens everything out and makes it smaller. And unlike X Lives, the book isn’t just interested in Wolverine’s pre-debut back story; it devotes the last three issues to racing through the X-Men, Mariko Yashida, and a dutiful nod to that time he didn’t have a nose for a year. It takes as its the endpoint of its recap House of M, where Logan regains his full memories – sensible, though it doesn’t really fit with the way Benjamin Percy writes the state of Logan’s memories.

The art is mostly fine; it’s a style that can accommodate a lot of different stories and homage a lot of different artists without feeling too disjointed. The final issue ends with a nice little montage of images from all of his history. It’s still ultimately just a recap book, mind you, but it’s had some effort put into it.

Bring on the comments

  1. The Other Michael says:

    Marvel should just wait until you’re done with the complete Wolverine Chronology and then pay you to make it into an actual book. Lord knows it would be more thorough and entertaining–and interesting to purists/completionists–than any halfassed series like this. 🙂

  2. Forrest says:

    This series did read like a TL;DR for the Incomplete Wolverine, didn’t it?

  3. Person of Con says:

    Until reading this, I literally hadn’t realized that Life of Wolverine and X Lives of Wolverine are different books. (To be fair, it turns out I actually haven’t read any of X Lives of Wolverine, and just one issue of Life of Wolverine.)

  4. […] Paul O’Brien reviews the effortful recap of Jim Zub, Ramon Bachs, et al’s Life of Wolverine #1-10. […]

  5. […] Paul O’Brien reviews the effortful recap of Jim Zub, Ramon Bachs, et al’s Life of Wolverine #1-10. […]

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