|Origin: The True Story of Wolverine|
Origin #1 Cover
|Publication date||November 2001 - March 2002|
|Number of issues||6|
Origin is a six-issue comic book limited series published by Marvel Comics from November 2001 to March 2002, written by Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada and Paul Jenkins, and illustrated by Andy Kubert (pencils) and Richard Isanove (color).
Origin tells the story of the superhero Wolverine, best known as a member of the X-Men. Since the character first appeared in the early 1970s his history had often been shrouded in mystery, with bits of information revealed piecemeal over time (notably in Weapon X), but this series was the first to reveal Wolverine's early days and his original background. In their introductions, some of those who worked on the series express their reluctance to reveal the actual origins of one of the comic world's most popular and mysterious characters. Even Wolverine himself has few recollections of where he came from and this was an essential part of his appeal.
The series reveals that Wolverine was born James Howlett, the son of rich plantation owners in late 19th Century Canada, and has long suffered from various allergies. He is a sickly child so his loving father, John Howlett, Jr., brings an orphaned girl named Rose up from the town to be his companion (Rose is red-haired which some take as a reference to Jean Grey, with whom Wolverine sometimes showed something of an obsession). The two children also often play with Dog Logan, son of the Howletts' cruel groundskeeper, Thomas Logan (who looks a lot like the fully-grown Wolverine). Readers are led to believe that Dog was the young Wolverine, but this is later revealed to be not the case. The children's friendship is spoiled by the tension between the boys' fathers centering on James' mother, Elizabeth, who went mad after her first son, John, died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. It is hinted throughout the series that Wolverine's elder brother John Howlett III was a mutant himself with powers similar to his own (both his mother and grandfather allude to this).
As a result of beatings and alcohol, Dog, over the next few years, becomes increasingly like his father, and his misdeeds, including an attempted assault on Rose or the killing of James' dog, become so violent that he and his father are expelled from the manor. Thomas returns for the purpose of robbing the Howlett estate and to convince Elizabeth to leave with him (it is implied that they had an affair and that Thomas may be the biological father of Elizabeth's sons).
John Howlett enters the bedroom after hearing noises. Thomas kills John Howlett with a shotgun blast in front of all three children and Elizabeth. The horror of his father's death causes James' powers to manifest for the first time, and he uses his claws to kill Thomas and injure Dog, before lapsing into shock. Rose gets James away. Elizabeth, surprisingly, cradles the body of Thomas Logan rather than that of her husband. After a few moments, Elizabeth, with her shallow grip on reality shattered, picks up Thomas' shotgun and kills herself.
Questioned by the police, Dog accuses Rose of the killings and the fact that she fled the scene with James appears to confirm this. James is in shock and appears to have no recollection of what happened. This loss of memory is due to Wolverine's/James' healing factor which, in effect, "healed" (by putting up a mental block) the mentally devastating traumas of witnessing his father's death, the confusion of mother's anger towards him and the pain and surprise caused by the sudden manifestation of his claws. Rose seeks help from her relatives, who reject her, and even James' grandfather drives them both from the house due to the manifestation of James' powers. They are given some money and take the train from Alberta to British Columbia, where they get work in a stone quarry.
Rose claims that her male companion is her cousin and, since they are on the run, calls him Logan to conceal his identity; though why she should choose the name of their enemy remains unexplained.
Gradually James/Logan strengthens physically, though his memory is still shattered. He often goes into the woods to hunt game, typically among a pack of wolves, with only his claws. He turns down Rose's offers to tell him about his past. She therefore keeps detailed notes in her diary.
James becomes close to the foreman, Smitty, who, in turn, develops romantic feelings toward Rose, which she returns. He courts her with books, including poetry by William Blake and a history of the samurai (warriors whom Wolverine of the X-Men would later model himself after). Logan's public identity as her cousin makes it impossible for him to declare his own feelings for her, so he works out his violence in a series of cage fights. He also seems to get angst out by working intensively at the quarry, and is given the nickname Wolverine by the local population who compare his intense digging to a wolverine going after a root. He also develops an intense rivalry with the camp's obese cook, Malone, who goes out of his way to cause trouble for Logan.
Smitty eventually asks Rose to marry him, which she accepts, and Smitty informs her that the cage fights are a fast and easy way to earn some extra money. He asks her to leave with him, which she is reluctant to do because of Logan. Logan sees Rose kissing Smitty and, feeling betrayed, later confronts her and confesses his feelings to her, though she rejects him for Smitty after he turns down her offer to go with them. Logan confronts Smitty at the next cage fight after venting his fury on Malone, and quickly has him at his mercy. Despite mixed feelings, wishes for Rose to be happy, Logan allows Smitty to defeat him purposely.
Just before the couple leaves to be wed, Dog comes to the quarry, originally sent by Old Man Howlett, on his deathbed, to find his heir. However, Dog blames Logan for the events that led to his father's death and is actually there for revenge. In the ensuing fight, Rose is accidentally impaled on Logan's claws. Logan goes mad with grief (his healing factor throwing up another mental block due to accidentally killing his first love) and runs into the woods, where he stays for an as yet unknown amount of time, living like a wild animal.
Logan would not let Rose tell him about his past, which he had forgotten anyway. Malone, who has long hated Logan, steals Rose's few belongings, but contemptuously burns her diary which contains the truth of Logan's past.
For decades, Wolverine's origins had been a mystery. After the success of the first X-Men film, it was decided if the character's origin wasn't told in the comic, it would be told on the film.
Paul Jenkins wanted certain characters, artwise and relationship-wise, to resonate with those knowledgeable about Wolverine's character history. Smitty was supposed to look somewhat like Cyclops, and his relationship with Jean Grey lookalike Rose to be what sparks Wolverine's jealousy in his fictional future. Similarly, Dog was to be a representation of Sabretooth, Wolverine's greatest nemesis.
When an interviewer asked Paul Jenkins if the character Dog Logan was Sabretooth, Jenkins replied that he had not intended it to be him, but said he wouldn't have a problem with another writer doing it later. No writer has yet written a story confirming a connection between Dog Logan and Sabretooth as canon in the Marvel Universe.
In the video game X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a trivia caption on the loading screens says Sabretooth's nickname as a boy was "Dog".
The final issue #6 of Origin was ranked second in sales for the January 2002 period with pre-order sales of 166,997.
Wolverine's origin is shown in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the fourth film in the X-Men film series (which, in the beginning of the film, is based strongly on the Origin comics), along with his and Victor Creed/Sabretooth's role on the two world wars, Weapon X, Team X and turning on each other. The film adds Creed in the Origin storyline, as Howlett's brother and fellow soldier. It also directly links Thomas Logan and Wolverine when Thomas states with his dying breath that he is Wolverine's real father.
The cast of the characters from the Origins comics are:
- Peter O'Brien as John Howlett
- Alice Parkinson as Elizabeth Howlett
- Aaron Jeffery as Thomas Logan
- Troye Sivan as Young James Howlett / Wolverine
- Michael James-Olsen as Young Victor Creed (Sabretooth)
- Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine/James Howlett
- Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed/Sabretooth