Wolverine's tranquil life away from mankind comes to a swift, brutal end in Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert's follow-up to "Wolverine: Origin." "Origin II" #1 does most of the legwork to bridge the gap between books for readers, diving right in where the first miniseries left off. Although it provides a solid foundation and a natural transition, this pricey new installment simply doesn't distinguish itself from the multiple "Wolverine" titles already on the shelf in any new, startling way.
Gillen has already made quite the name for himself with acclaimed runs like "Young Avengers" and "Journey into Mystery"; however, his work on this issue simply pales in comparison to his other books, simmering down to "okay" as opposed to "outstanding." For instance, the issue's plot simply moves some of the chess pieces into place in order to bring Logan out of his Eden-esque cohabitation with nature, trundling along with even if unremarkable pacing and a predictable climax. Additionally, some of the narration -- like his epithet on "hope against certainties" being "a hopeless thing" -- comes across as convoluted rather than profound or poetic.
However, his decision to provide an objective third-person narrator for the issue, which shapes the story like a nature documentary, effectively carries the issue in an interesting way. This framework throws Logan's more intense moments -- like the death of the wolf pack -- into sharp relief, intensifying his emotions through contrast. Likewise, Gillen drops little hints here and there that unobtrusively give the reader a better perspective on this particular moment in Logan's life. The setup to the issue is especially excellent, in that it dismantles civilization in much the same way Logan dismisses society, stripping both to their base cores while making way for Wolverine's antagonists.
Kubert approaches the issue in a similarly hit-or-miss way. His close ups are lovely, with soft penciling that highlights the more distinct features on each figure, including the animals. Even so, he manages to pull off the issue's more brutal moments; some moments, like Logan's fight with the bear, are downright graphic, but Kubert makes no apologies with a clear, honest style. His layouts, particularly the ones that span a full spread, are dynamic and a pleasure to follow. However, when the focus pulls away, his style gets a little messier and, at times, feels a little cartoonish. This inconsistency becomes particularly aggravated when these figures are placed over the grand, detailed landscapes Kubert cultivates.
"Origin II" #1 certainly has its high and low points, ultimately culminating in a nice, solid piece of work. However, it's easy for a reader to set the bar a little higher for a creative team as powerful and respected as Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert. Although this issue is a little lackluster, the story has great potential, especially with the promise of Mr. Sinister and Sabretooth's future involvement. With these names attached to the project, I have a lot of faith the run will live up to its potential; I know I'll be sticking around.