One of my favorite parts of Wolverine as a character is that he can fit into all kinds of genres of story and different eras too because of his long life. On a surface level, Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara, and Frank Martin get that too, but the execution is sorely lacking as they kick off a mini-event in X Lives of Wolverine #1. Percy has told good Logan stories in both podcasts and comics, but this isn’t one of them as he and Cassara follow an underwhelming dangling plot thread with Wolverine facing off against Omega Red in multiple timelines to rescue Professor X.
The whole premise of X Lives of Wolverine #1 screams derivative with Logan getting the multiple timelines and outcomes that Moira X did in House of X/Powers of X. Over the past couple decades, Wolverine’s past and future have been excavated, retconned, and re-contextualized so many times and even spawned two live action films. So, it’s nice to see Percy and Cassara just have him be violent and protective in different settings instead of trying to hype up yet another new mystery about his past. Poetic captions and good staging aside (For example, the horror that Charles Xavier’s father has in his face when Omega Red is threatening his newborn son.), X Lives of Wolverine can’t escape that it’s just the two months of filler before “Destiny of X”.
I think the reason that X Lives of Wolverine didn’t connect with me beyond time travel for the sake of time travel was that Omega Red and his variants are quite one-dimensional villains. As seen from his work on X-Force, Joshua Cassara has a real gift for body horror, and Omega Red has an all-time great design. But he doesn’t have that much of a personality beyond that design and even ends up playing second fiddle to the devious Mikhail Rasputin. (His manipulation of Colossus is the real plotline I’m looking forward to.) The other “Omegas” are even worse and show up in the main flashback timeline trying to kill Professor X at birth. There’s nothing interesting to unpack: just bad guys with Omega symbols on their foreheads trying to kill a baby. Omega Red’s motivation does make sense because Beast wanted him to come back with his painful carbonadium intact, but this information is confined to a data page that breaks up the visceral action from Cassara and White.
And, yes, the action is basically if Mark Millar scripted an Omega Red-centric version of the Clone Saga. There’s lingering panels where Xavier’s mother acknowledges that she miscarried Cassandra (Later Nova) as well as Wolverine cutting an umbilical cord with his claw. But, for some reason, Wolverine won’t kill these Omegas even though they’re jeopardizing the life of man, who would one day give him an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than himself. The Omegas are drawn and act like generic enemies that would be tossed off without even thinking, but Benjamin Percy does a whole moral dilemma thing with them. (I guess “Kill no mutant” does apply to alternate timelines.)
Even though Percy did seed Omega Red’s anger against Krakoa in previous issues of X-Force, the character works as a B or C-plot not the centerpiece of an event. Joshua Cassara stages the fight between Wolverine, a badass Mrs. Xavier, and the Omegas in a compelling way with gritty colors from Frank Martin, but it feels like a generic video game fight. With the appearance of Rasputin and the presence of Jean Grey, the upcoming timeline hops might have better stakes, but honestly after 40 pages of this, I’m not sticking around every week to see if they do.
Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Joshua Cassara
Colors: Frank Martin Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 4.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics