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Marvel Knights: Wolverine Origin DVD

A movie review article by: Jamil Scalese

Everyone has that comic they consider seminal to their love of the medium. It might not have been the first book you ever read but it guaranteed that it wouldn't be the last. It's undeniable that Origin formulated my love for sequential art.  

Alright, I'll admit, like six or seven other comic books could be inserted in the last sentence. Origin isn't the origin of my passion for comics, but it does resonate in my nostalgia organs for a lot of reasons.

The product at hand is the latest installment of the Marvel Knights Animation line, a comic/cartoon merge that brings the early Aughties mega-release to life while at the same time delivering several mortal wounds to the work.

Marvel concentrates their efforts on their super legit serial cartoons but they should take a note from their main competition and turn to delivering full-length movies. This is a pitiful attempt to regurgitate the work. While Paul Jenkins' story stays mostly intact Andy Kubert's art is ripped to shreds, bent in unholy ways and manipulated to the point of disrespect. Seriously, just animate it!

The voice acting is standard, and the DVD itself hasn't a lot to offer. Particularly annoying is how it's split into six parts with credits and an opening between every damn chapter. Quite annoying for an hour-long feature.

The best and only reason to give this a look is a short series of interviews from Jenkins, Kubert, Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas, and Richard Isanove. They give unparalleled insight into the ideas and methodology behind the purpose, meaning, and legacy of the work.  I loved this retrospective because the creators discussed a bunch of stuff that I've been thinking for years, thereby confirming my opinions as correct. (Right?)

Comic fans are readers, and that was the case with me back in 2001. I craved all fiction in my teens and comics books were a rare treasure for me, a bibliophile at the mercy of the local library. When the now defunct Borders chain started carrying triple the amount of trades and even a small handful of monthly titles, I remember being ecstatic because I could read them for free as I pretended to drink tea in the cafe area. It was about that time I started to become cognizant of a living, breathing comics culture, mainly through the discovery of Wizard, but also via the magical interwebs which was just entering the messy spaghetti mound of information and opinion it is today.

In those days Marvel started toying with the concept of putting comics online and offered select issues in a proto-reader on their site. Those freebies were succulent candy. I immediately went to the comics about the shady clawed dude's past; something I'd briefly read about a few months before. At that time I knew the names Lee, Kirby, McFarlane, Millar, and Bendis. Jenkins and Kubert meant little to me.

Now they're burnt into my mind.

The first two issues of Origin rocked this dude's teenage life. Immediately immersive, the tale of young Wolvie's maturation seized my total attention and that climactic end to #2 hit me like a shotgun blast to the face. Kubert's pencils boomed off the page, building a solemn period piece that focused on the finer details of a down-to-earth script. Wolverine always screamed tragedy to me, probably because the X-Men animated series was such a depressing piece of muck, and Origin was tragic to the core. I appreciated the hell out of the bare bones approach, choosing to take out all elements "X" and making a point to separate the narrative from Mutant and Marvel lore. The cyclical theme to the whole thing -- not only do bad things happen to Logan, but they're the same bad things -- spoke to me in surplus.

For some reason I stopped reading (oh yeah, I was 15) but the mini eventually rolled back into my life maybe a year or two later when someone in my high school obtained a copy that made laps around the classroom during study halls and downtime. I read that sucker at least four or five times, partly out of boredom, but also out of reverence. This is how it all started for "James Howlett" and it never went well.

It's not until recently that I've discovered that a large portion of comic fans have a distaste for Origin, and that doesn't surprise me at all. It stands out as an ambitious project from a time when Marvel was flailing like a Magikarp. Now it's got its got Gyarados swag because Origin crafted a path to success. Jenkins doesn't fail to credit Jemas and the "business" end for granting such a wide berth on this important piece. It's that same general philosophy that's got them at the top of the game right now.

Origin II by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert is one of the more noticeable print-based announcements from ComicCon and I'm revved to read the sequel to one of my favorite all-time works. I just hope that those capable creators remember what made the first installment of Wolverine's life so good. 

This DVD kind of sucked, but it had a time capsule effect on me. The familiar story, the somber atmosphere, and the likeable characters of Origin came to life again, albeit like Frankenstein. It reminded me why I still dig through longboxes and wade into decompressed storylines. Great, life-changing stories exist and I'm on a quest to find them.


Jamil Scalese is just like you -- an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his subpar tweeting at @jamilscalese.

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