REVIEW: Wolverine: Weapon X – Tomorrow Dies Today
There have been so many titles featuring Wolverine and so many stories told about him that writers find themselves forced time and again to dip into parallel realities or alternate futures to find fresh sources of conflict. There was the well-received Old Man Logan by Mark Millar a little while back and before that, there was Jason Aaron’s Wolverine:” Weapon X storyline “Tomorrow Dies Today”. The latter has been adapted as part of the Marvel Knights line of motion comics, released on DVD this week from Shout! Factory.
The story is adapted from Wolverine: Weapon X #11-15 and predominantly features Captain America with cameos from a variety of X-Men. The primary antagonist is Deathlok, who has been around since 1974 and is only now become well-known thanks to his appearances on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With Wolverine in X-Men Days of Future Past next week and Agents having its season finale tomorrow, the release is incredibly well-timed.
A major fault in this particular adaptation is that it makes tons of references to previous events in the Marvel Universe comic book continuity without explanation to the non-comic fan. We open with Logan and Steve Rogers going out drinking to celebrate Cap’s return from the dead in the wake of the Civil War storyline. Cap talks about Logan’s role with the Avengers and so on but mass audiences expected to watch this have no clue what is being discussed. More context from the screenwriters would have been nice.
While they’re out drinking, a host of Deathloks has been sent back in time to eliminate targeted people who will either give birth to or grow up to become super-villains that will ruin life as we know it. Roxxon, the ever-present evil corporation whenever Oscorp isn’t available, has been responsible for this and one by one, Marvel’s mightiest heroes have fallen except Wolverine, who still wants to fight despite the loss of his hands. Linking the two eras is Miranda Bayer who has been receiving psychic warnings from her future self.
There’s a lot of fighting and things blow up. We see various heroes come to Wolverine’s aid and all sorts of Deathloks appear indestructible. And of course, the story reaches its climax, another potential future threat is resolved and life goes on as usual. A key problem with these stories is that we have seen so many alternate futures for the mutants, starting with Days and continuing for the last 30 years is that they have lost their sense of urgency. Solve this future and some other dark, deadly future will be presented whenever the writers get stuck for an idea.
Aaron does a fine job in the comics making this work and his pacing is fine. On the other hand, the 64-minute motion adaptation leaves out sub-text, characterization, and just feels written by the numbers. The story arc was illustrated by Ron Garney and was transformed into a motion story by Canada’s Atomic Cartoons. Maybe they were rushed or the budget was cut but the work here is choppier and more static than earlier offerings. Additionally, the same action is shown for several seconds as characters talk to one another, the worst sin even 2-D animation can commit.
The vocal cast is also limited meaning people have to perform multiple roles and it shows, further weakening the storytelling.
The story is accompanied by a bonus feature, 14 minutes of Ron Garney talking about his work on the storyline and seeing it adapted and opening his eyes to the possibilities of motion comics. Interestingly, he admits to talking 5-6 weeks to draw a story which finally explains his inability to remain on a monthly for long. His extolling the virtues of a motion comic also sounds like a testimonial and doesn’t sound entirely convincing.