Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistaire, Volume 1
By William Messner-Loebs
IDW, July 2008, $19.99
Historical fiction is the odd duck of literature; it inevitably ages twice – once just because it’s set in a past milieu that even the original audience will be unfamiliar with, and a second time because it was really written for that original audience…and their society and expectations and ideas will age and become unfamiliar as well. Today’s historical fiction shows us the past through a lens of today, but yesterday’s historical fiction has a double lens – the historical era it was set in, and the one it was written in.
[[[Journey]]] is set nearly two hundred years ago, on the old Northwestern frontier of Michigan, soon after the election of 1808. And these stories were created twenty-five years ago, in black-and-white comic books, as part of a burst of creativity and possibility in the comics industry, originally driven by a wide array of idiosyncratic creators each telling their own particular stories but eventually buried (within another three years) by piles of cheap knock-offs of “hot” ideas. (Some things never change.)
Messner-Loebs’s hero is a legendary trapper and outdoorsman, Joshua “Wolverine” MacAlistaire – and 1983 is about the last time any comics character could be named “Wolverine” completely independently – who doesn’t dislike people, though he does prefer his own company.