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CSBG Archive

Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 9: Wolverine: The End #1

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Wolverine: The End #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated January 2004. Enjoy!

Yawn

This comic has no credits. According to the cover, Paul Jenkins writes it, Claudio Castellini draws it, and Paul Mounts colors it. Dave Sharpe might letter it (he’s credited for issue #2), but who knows. I suppose it doesn’t matter who writes it for our purposes, as the only words that appear on the first page are a quote by George Orwell and “Canada.” The Orwell quote (from Animal Farm) is fairly lazy – epigraphs in comics are dangerous things, usually attempting to lend weight to something that, honestly, doesn’t deserve it. But if you’re a reader opening this up, I guess you can figure out that this will be about … Communists? Totalitarianism? Pigs? The epigraph connotes certain things because of the text from which it’s taken, but a reader can’t obviously think a Wolverine comic will be about anything more than Wolverine struggling with his animal nature, which is the basis of … let’s say 75% of Wolverine comics. Jenkins uses a quote from Orwell that has a relatively deep meaning and simplifies it to the point of meaninglessness. Oh well.

The lack of meaningful words isn’t the only reason this is a lousy first page. It’s the very first image we see, and it’s … boring. It’s simply a winter scene where nothing is happening. On the right side, we get a door opening and a sliver of light spilling out into a winter’s night, but that’s not terribly interesting (nor, when we turn the page, does it get any more so: it’s a old man carrying a cardboard box). The only thing that might be of some interest is the gas pump, which is obviously supposed to show that this takes place in the future. Even that’s not that fascinating. Meanwhile, like too many modern comics (which should get off my lawn!), the mixture of actual pencil work and computer-generated effects doesn’t work as well as it’s supposed to, making the page look a bit sloppier than it should.

This is a poorly designed first page, which does nothing to entice a reader. The fact that the entire issue is like this might be the reason why this is the only issue of Wolverine: The End that I own. Let’s move on!

Next: Scott Lobdell! Leinil Francis Yu! What could it be?!?!?!?

11 Comments

Probably my favorite failed attempt at using classic literature to lend gravitas to a superhero comic is from a Geoff Johns issue of JSA. It’s Johnny Thunder’s funeral, and Johns has the priest read Tennyson’s poem “The Eagle,” because it has the word “thunderbolt” in it. Other than that, there is no connection whatsoever between the poem and the story. It’s hilarious.

I can just imagine the script describing this page:

“We have another 21 pages to fill, so we can waste a page to establish the scene. It’s snowing on a quaint Canadian village in the background, a high-tech gas pump next to an old general store in the foreground. If someone didn’t realize the story is set in the future from title, the pump will spell it out.

“A mysterious ‘klink klink’ sound intrigues us, making us almost desperate to learn more. Is it Dr. Doom’s armor? A horde of Shi’ar warriors lying in wait for someone? Wolverine kicking a couple of empty beer cans? Readers will have to turn the page to find out.”

next to Origins this mini really didn’t accomplish much. I thought Creed’s funeral was very interesting. However the rest of the story really didn’t do much for me. Did I buy the trade? Absolutely. Best Wolverine story of all time? Far from it. Would I recommend it? …well…Jenkins can write, but I think this was probably directed by Marvel and he acted the professional and did what was directed. There’re stronger “The End” stories out there.

Very interesting CSBG concept and best of luck with it, Greg. If you ever need suggestions–The Boys 62 had probably the funniest first page I’ve seen in a long time. Preview should still be out there.

Rob S: That sounds plausible. And how disappointed they will be when they do!

Rob: Thanks for the suggestion. I’m trying to be as random as possible, but if I go past this month, I’m planning theme weeks, so “funny first pages” is a good idea.

You really should cover the page from Punisher The End, with the punisher shooting and the earth in the background. with franks eyes and the earth giving off a orange glow.

This is a great example of why decompressed comics suck. You could break the same space into 4-6 panels. Show Wolverine or a mysterious strange walking through town approaching the store. 4-6 shots of future tech to establish the setting. One or two headlines or a TV broadcast to tantalize readers with news–e.g., “Fantastic Four Disband!” or “Avengers Die!” Passersby with facial expressions and clothing to show whether times are good or bad.

If you must, you can still end with the yawn-inducing “klink klink.” Which apparently refers to old man Logan carrying a box of junk. This better be the best box of junk ever–Cyke’s visor, Doom’s face-mask, Mjolnir, etc.–for the buildup it’s getting. But it sure doesn’t sound like it.

True, Jenkins’s approach gives you a pretty snow scene. If you’ve never lived in or visited the north, watched a movie or TV show about it, or seen it in a book or on a postcard, this may impress you. My approach gives you 4-6 times as much content and makes you much more likely to read and buy this comic. Indeed, to read and buy the whole series. It’s creatively AND commercially better.

This isn’t some great insight here. We’re talking Writing 101: Grab the readers immediately so they can’t put the book down. I conclude I could’ve written a better “Wolverine: The End” than Jenkins.

Darn it, this comic brings back bad memories.

“The End” was supposed to be this sort of timeless, continuity-free, somewhere in the future finish to our favorite characters. Marvel set the stage with “Hulk: The End,” which was a darn near perfect launch to the concept. And then this six-part mess came out, and the only thing I can imagine being worse than it was X-Men: The End, which is a mess I’ll discuss some other day.

This issue was GOOD, believe it or not. Wolverine is this grizzled old man living in the mountains, and age is catching up with him–he does badly at hunting a deer. He still looks like Wolverine, but with white hair and a damaged claw (which is never explained, and that’s fine with me). He gets a letter inviting him to Sabretooth’s funeral, and from there, a mystery package inviting him to the remains of the house he grew up in (way back in ORIGIN #1), which he can hardly remember due to age. And Wolverine has this sneaking suspicion that the Weapon X program is still mucking with him, decades later.

The series goes dramatically downhill from there (and it was notoriously late, to boot). Wolverine runs around the globe, looking for exactly I’m not sure what, meets his long-lost brother, the current batch of X-Men think he murdered Xavier, and it turns out Xavier’s ghost is living inside Wolverine. Except for the brother plotline, none of the other story elements really go anywhere, to include the uselessly unexplained ghost of Charles Xavier. It becomes too saddled in a future continuity that’s never really developed, when all along it should have revolved around Wolverine himself (with maybe the occasional nod to his X-Men history, but that’s it).

Oh, and I’d really hoped that the long-lost brother was Sabretooh in disguise, having faked his death to screw with Wolverine one last time at the end of his life. Nope. The ending was just awful.

did not even notice that “futuristic” gas pump till you wrote about it

Matthew Johnson

January 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

The thing with this page is that it’s obviously the opening shot of a movie. How many times have we seen that — establishing shot, a few moments of outdoor noise to build atmosphere, an offscreen sound to draw us to the next shot? Imagine that as the first shot of a movie and it works pretty well (though it’s a bit cliched) — just not as a comics page. The question is why it works well in a movie and poorly in a comic.

@Matthew, The reason this works in a movie is because the shot wouldn’t last more than 30 seconds, which is 1/240 of the total running time of a 2 hour movie. As a comics page it’s 1/22 of the story. To put this in perspective imagine if this opening shot of the movie took 5 and a half minutes instead of 30 seconds.

I hate these decompressed comics that are coming out nowadays. There was a time when the first page of a comic would try it’s hardest to really grab the reader. I’d like to see some Kirby pages at some point in this feature.

[...] Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 9: Wolverine: The End #1Comic Book Resourcesby Greg Burgas Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today's page is from Wolverine: The End #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated January 2004. Enjoy! This comic has no credits. … [...]

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