Within each lifetime, there are infinite possibilities for lives and deaths of self. Someone’s identity isn’t something that is concrete, nor should it be. It’s something that evolves as you evolve. As you change, the person who you were dies and someone new is born. They may go by different names, titles, or monikers. But that self, upon death, is not lost. Everything that life was lives on in the actions performed or how it got you to the point the current you is at. Do you celebrate the X lives of self or do you mourn the X deaths of self?
What if you’ve gone by many names? Weapon X, Patch, and even Death to throw a few on the table. Do all of those make up the man who Wolverine is now? Do those identities solidify who Logan is today? With Issue #1 of X Lives of Wolverine, we open the heavy tome of everything Wolverine has been and who he is now to protect who he may become. Who everyone he cares about may become.
Wolverine at his core has always been a weapon, sometimes even questioning if he can even be anything more. Often at the cost of his own humanity, he has been used by his loved ones and enemies alike to dispose of various problems with often blood-soaked results. Wolverine’s autonomy and identity have always been something others have used to aim him at their problems. The reason being is that Wolverine is the best there is at what he does and what he does isn’t very nice.
In X Lives of Wolverine #1 by Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara, Frank Martin, Cory Petit, and Tom Mueller, we find Logan contemplating on the lie that is time. Time isn’t something a man who has lived for a century has much use for. Time isn’t linear, it’s a shifting, breathing thing to heroes who often travel through it. Logan stands on Krakoa, a place he is weary of, staring at a pocket watch, thinking about how time is liquid: moving forwards, backwards, and even upside down. Logan is a man who has been putting the pieces of his splintered past together as he tries to move forward. The only things he can trust are the physical because the abstract often betrays him.
As with any event comic, we are thrown headfirst into this weekly event comic with the action-packed debut issue. We see Logan at his best, as the protector of those he calls family. Benjamin Percy understands what makes Wolverine and Logan interesting. I separate the two because I believe that each of his personas are all pieces of a whole. Each life and death makes up Logan, Wolverine, Patch… all interchangeable depending on who is needed. All of it depends on what is needed of him. It’s something we have seen a lot of in Percy’s work with Logan as he puts him in different situations to see the many-faceted sides of one very complicated mutant. We see the pieces of things that Logan feared for Krakoa done by those around him. It’s a very intriguing debut that lays a solid bed of groundwork for what comes next for Wolverine.
As I talk about the art, I will begin to dig further into story element spoilers. This is your warning, bub.
Frank Martin’s colors on the first issue are an element that stuck out to me in an outstanding way. As we’re transported between the present to other time periods in which Logan has lived, there is a change in the color palette. Each change of color takes Joshua Cassara’s art between the multiple lives of Wolverine in ways another colorist may not have. There are more muted palettes in the first jump we experience as Logan protects the life of a young family. It’s a tonal shift from the vibrancy of the modern setting which is a range most of us are quite familiar with: the bright luminescent colors of Krakoa. The final shift of the issue (which I will not reveal) has an almost yellow overture. It’s a fantastic way for an artist to transfer our minds between time; which is never a solid but more like a liquid, flexible and fluid with the changes around it.
There is a two-page spread that shows Logan donning Xavier’s Cerebro helmet, revealing all the fractured lives of Wolverine. Cassara depicts scenes that are familiar to fans of Wolverine as we see each splintered self in windows of his mind. There is one in particular with Wolverine leaning forward, blood dripping from his mask, and his claws are soaked. It’s an image that has stuck in my mind since reading it and I don’t think it is one I will ever unhinge from my view of who Logan is.
People shift and change constantly. We see multiple characters imbued with a dark passenger in this issue as a different version of themself comes to life. Their bodies, a vessel for another. Cory Petit’s lettering is distinct in showing the shift as that version of themself dies. The speech bubbles fade from black slowly into white. It’s a good use of color to show the character shift back into the person they were before, but you cannot truly go back to who you were before. Not after a change like that. That self is left behind as the new you stands with the crisp white letters of a returned self.
As I wait for the death that follows this life of Wolverine, I sit and wonder who he will become after this. How will this latest trial change who Wolverine is? How many deaths and rebirths can one spirit take? I don’t think you can truly choose whether you celebrate the lives or mourn the deaths until they come to a close. You cherish each moment and version because your experience with them is never the same as someone else. X Lives of Wolverine leads us down a path that can go anywhere in a ferocious start to the newest Wolverine story. As I leave you, I ask you to take some time to listen to a song I have started to imbue with the ideas of Wolverine for many reasons. Listen to Johnny Cash’s “Thirteen” and ponder upon this quote until death brings us together again next week.
“The list of lives I’ve broken reach from here to hell.”