If you polled comic book fans and asked them what character from Wolverine’s past you’d like to show up in “Wolverine & the X-Men” #26, I bet you’d be in the single percentage figures for people that responded, “Dog Logan.” Wolverine’s brother from Paul Jenkins and Joe Quesada’s “Origin” mini-series is quite possibly one of the least interesting aspects to the “Origin” mini-series (and that’s saying a lot), so the idea of him returning is hardly enticing, so with that in mind I have to give Jason Aaron and Ramon Perez credit: the character almost works here.
“Wolverine & the X-Men” #26 is really two separate stories that are linked; one giving Dog Logan’s past (telling the events of “Origin” and beyond through Dog’s eyes), the other giving the confrontation between Dog and Wolverine in the present day. It’s surprisingly the former that ends up working, with the latter falling flat on its face. The pages set in the past are great, although that’s in no small part thanks to Perez and colorist Laura Martin. The two have created a series of pages that look more like watercolors than traditional comic book pages; they’re dreamy and airy, giving the impression of an earlier simpler time. Martin uses a limited color palette on these pages, sticking to just a few hues to help bring the entire page together in a way that makes each one feel like a complete unit, not just a series of panels slapped together. We get some really impressive images here, like the leaves falling down around Wolverine after his claws have come out, or the gore all over the Howlett home when Dog finds his dead father. The latter in particular is a moment that works perfectly with this limited color scheme; by tinting the entire room in red, the bloody handprints and trails across the floor and rug aren’t as evident or jumping out at you. You still instantly understand what happens, but the nastiness of that moment has been muted. It’s a mixture of “growing up in a tough time” and “wilderness adventure” tropes on these pages, and Aaron and Perez had me actually nodding along and thinking, “This is pretty good.”
Unfortunately, there are also pages set in the present day, and that’s where it all comes crashing down. The art is still good from Perez and Martin, although drawn in a modern style it’s less inviting. But while Aaron kept my interest with the script in those pages set in the past, present-day Dog is a dud. He’s just not that interesting, the more he talks, and most of his talking is set in these pages. He’s a very generic braggart of a villain, and if anything he’s irritating to read about in the present day. With every sort of weapon and device being pulled out of pockets to make this an even match (adamantium clubs, laser rifles, time diamonds), this isn’t a fight between two long-lost half-brothers; it’s a boring thug going up against our hero. It’s a real shame, because there’s a certain level of inventiveness and re-creation of Dog in the section of “Wolverine & the X-Men” #26 set in the past. All that good will gets burnt off once he goes up against Wolverine, though.
“Wolverine & the X-Men” #26 is worth reading for the half of the issue that I identified earlier, and for that reason alone I’m glad I did so. But with it most likely that the next issue will be set entirely in the present, I don’t have much hope for what’s to come next. The quicker Dog exits “Wolverine & the X-Men,” the better. Here’s hoping this is Dog’s first and last return, post-“Origin.”