Who's in this issue?
WOW, this was a great issue. It didn't have a lot of violence or fight, but it really, really focused in on Logan's personal and spiritual side. Consider this issue as a landmark issue for those of you who had not read, or did not have the ability to acquire, the six-part Origin series, for this issue is the first issue to where Logan's real first name, James, is revealed.
Why this issue was exceptionally great in my opinion: this issue brings to light a side of Logan that no one knew about: Logan's inability to accept defeat, his inability to face emotional pain, his inability to come to terms with his feelings. Logan becomes much more human with this one issue, and it isn't just being about physically human (like losing his mutant healing factor or when he didn't have his adamantium skeleton). His carefree, no-holds-barred attitude that has always been associated with his character is revealed in this one issue that the reason behind that facade is because he can't face emotional pain, and instead of facing emotional pain, he chooses to phase them out by allowing his mind to heal over those memories. Logan instantly becomes a more associable character because he becomes more human in this issue. I mean, I can surely relate to Logan even more in this issue: the fact that family and a sense of belonging is something that is important to Logan, and the fact that he has a hard time dealing with emotional pain and/or loss by avoiding to come face to face with the situation. Logan is not perfect, he's not invincible, but he is definitely more human with very human characteristics. As I read through this issue, his little comments that he keeps popping over to whom he believed to be Jean seemed to reinforce this notion that he may talk tough, but behind this talk, he's masking something underneath ... his own weaknesses. He will use every other excuse possible (usually anger, but at times other excuses), but he would stubbornly never give in to painful emotions or events that he doesn't want to remember, and instead of showing them, he chooses to mask them with other feelings.
Another thing great about this issue: it brings up the point that although we as a comic book fan now knows his definitive past (from the Origin series, which I found a bit funny how this big hint about this series was dropped in the text of this particular issue with Rose's reference to the voices over the hill being the origin to it all), Logan, himself, may never know his definitive past because his one opportunity at finding out about it ... at least while he's alive ... may have been missed when he faced off against his enemies. This will help ensure that we can never question as to why Origins was written, and yet, Logan doesn't know about his past.
Finally, I have to say that this issue really makes you feel very sorry for Logan. The reason I say this is simple: because he can't face defeat, because he can't face emotional pain, because he could never accept his feelings, Logan becomes a very tragic and lonely character. Regardless of his "family" ties with the X-Men, regardless of the countless number of other people Logan has and will be associtaed with, if Logan does not truly ever accept defeat, if he never can face emotional pain or show his true feelings, Logan will forever be banished to a very sad and lonely life. He may talk the talk, walk the walk, but I don't believe he can ever be truly happy on a spiritual level if he can't face or accept those three items.
Some other things that I took note about: if Logan was able to recover from his grave injuries because, as he had said, the effects of the MPC weapon was only temporary, this would also mean Sabretooth will survive his injuries from Wolverine, which means Sabretooth is almost guaranteed to be back ... ... I was amazed as to the Weapon X's response in giving Amiko back to Logan. Hasn't one of the Weapon X program's intention always been to utilize Logan again as part of their program? If so, then why did I not get this impression with the way they had apparently been so willing to take care of Amiko's wounds, nurse her back to health, and give her back to Logan? (Perhaps the Weapon X program and their ties now with Alpha Flight may signal a return of the Alpha Flight comic books) ... ... Finally, I can almost guarantee that for those readers who had been hesistant about acquiring the Origins series to read, this issue alone may cause many of them to reconsider that hesistation. Sad enough, I have all six parts to the Origins series, but I haven't had the time to read it yet. This one issue alone ... Wolverine #176 ... inspires me to read the Origins series, and I can almost guarantee that those of you who read this issue but not the Origins series yet will most likely do the same and either purchase the Origins books if you can still get them or wait until Marvel releases the trade paperback version of the 6-part Origins series (which I can almost guarantee you will be happening ... call it a strong hunch on my part). You will definitely want to learn more about this red-headed woman (whom is referred to as "Rose" in the Origins series) and what her association with Logan was in the past and how she is linked so strongly to Jean Grey as Logan's love interest and why his seemingly eternal longing for Jean.
To summarize my recommendation in three words for this issue: get this issue. This was an extremely well-written book on the part of writer Frank Tieri and drawn well again by Sean Chen, Norm Rapmund, and Raymund Lee. This was probably the best issue that I've read from Mr. Tieri for Wolverine in terms of character development and its ability to bring the readers closer to Logan as a more human character, while Chen's style of artwork worked extremely well for this issue, despite the lack of any serious fighting or confrontations. Logan is a more human character ... a more associable, real character ... whose weaknesses are revealed in this issue. And when I mean weakness, I mean weakness of the spiritual nature: Logan's inability to accept failure, to accept painful emotions, to avoid painful feelings. I felt that I can relate to Logan even more from this issue, which makes me think hard about my own behavior, my own weaknesses, my own emotions, and just how much more similar I am to this character than I had thought I'd ever be. Logan had his chance to find out about his true past, but it appears that he may never get the chance now ... or until he dies at least ... because of his handicap of always being determined to come out on top and to avoid painful emotions or feelings. I found it very hard to describe in words my attitude and feelings towards this issue ... what I've talked about in this opinion is just stuff that I found I could put into words ... but the emotional and spiritual factor that this book will surely bring to its readers, to me, is indescribable.
Rating (from 1 dot (not recommended) to 5 dot (highly recommended)
"The Logan Files: Epilogue"
IN THIS ISSUE:
Surrounded by a white light, Logan finds himself face to face with a red-headed woman, who Logan believed to be "Jean". Logan asks her whether he was dead, and wonders why "Jean" would be here since she wasn't dead. Her response was that his physical body had passed on, but his soul had not as of yet. He asks her whether Amiko was okay or not. Her response was that Amiko had been saved by the Weapon X program, strange as that may sound. Logan notices that he didn't see "...no St. Peter, no pearly white gates ... an' the man with the pitchfork an' hooves ain't come a' callin' neither", and asks "Jean" where he really was. She tells him that he was in a place "in between" ... the place commonly referred to where "... your life flashes before your eyes".
As flashes of the past days' events passes through his eyes, Logan is asked what was disturbing about all those events .. about how his loved ones were getting attacked. Without hearing an answer, she tells Logan that throughout his life, he had always been a loner, and yet, family had always been important to him. She recounts the past people he had associated with as "family": as a member of the Canadian army's Devil Brigade, in Madripoor as Patch, when he was training under Ogun as a father figure, when he had teamed up with Team X, when he knew Heather and James Hudson (aka Vindicator and Guardian) and then as part of Alpha Flight. Only when he found the X-Men did he finally found a place to where he felt he belonged. Logan said that yes, the X-Men are his family, but if he's dead, why not just bury him right then and there and let him pass on.
Her response to Logan about why he hadn't passed on yet was because Logan had "...to come to terms with all this, as well as with your [Logan] feelings ..." She tells Logan that throughout his life, he has always dealt with his feelings in two ways: either lashing out, or withdrawing inside from them. As Logan becomes frustrated with all these talk, he pops out a set of claws. She points out to Logan that in doing that, Logan had just pointed out that statement by himself.
Meanwhile, through a gateway, two bystanders (whose shadows we recognize as Ogun and Cyber) notices who was out there, and could not believe their luck to now have the chance to face off against Logan once again, though they felt that "... a moment like this ... is sometimes best shared".
As "Jean" and Logan continued talking, an image of the "new" X-Men appeared, those closest to Logan's life. She refers to Storm as someone Logan calls a sister; Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Banshee as brothers; and even Cyclops (through it all) and "Jean" Grey. She asks Logan "...what it was about her [Jean] that drew you [Logan] to her so?" Logan's response was that she knew exactly how he had felt about her, but that they should just leave it as is. She asks him why Logan always "secretly wince" whenever "Jean" and Cyclops were seen together, why he wasn't at their wedding with all of the other guests and instead choosing to watch from a distance. Logan finally blurbs out that he loves her now and forever. "Jean"'s response was that Logan was missing the point, that regarding the events that she had been talking about, how Logan tended to avoid events that would cause painful emotions within him. She refers back to Colossus' funeral, and how he didn't attend it. Logan's response was that he was angry at Colossus for sacrificing his life instead of giving the X-Men a chance to find a cure for the Legacy virus.
"Jean" questions Logan as to whether the only thing Logan had felt was anger in all those events, and whether anger was the only emotion Logan would admit to, but not sadness or feelings of loss. She brings up the death of Mariko Yashida and why Logan had never had a meaningful, lasting relationship since that. She tells Logan that the reason behind this was because he, Logan, was afraid to be hurt again, and was afraid that to end up in another relationship may result in it ended up like all his other relationships: in death. She reminds him of all the other hurtful events in his life: the Weapon X program, when Magneto ripped Logan's adamantium off his skeleton, of when he became Apocalypse's first horseman known as Death ... and questions him as to why his recollection of all those events were at best fuzzy. She tells him Sabretooth was right: that his lost memories was a result of his own actions, that painful emotions that he endures, he keeps away from himself and those that he can't avoid, his mind heals over it. She tells Logan that only he could stop it from happening; he had to accept that it's okay to fail, to hurt, and to unlock the door to his mind.
To his left, a door appears. "Jean" tells Logan that only he could open the door and find out what was on the other side. He uncertainly opens the door. Behind the door was a rolling hill with a grassy field. He hears voices, "...voices I vaguely recognize, some laughin', some cryin' ...", and asks who they are. "Jean" tells him that they were the answers to everything for him, "...the origin to it all" and that he now had to trust her to "...put aside your fear, your doubt ... go over the hill. I ["Jean"] promise you, my love, all will be revealed ..."
From behind her, a voice calls out. Logan looks to see enemies of his past who had died appear. He unleashes his claws, ready to battle. "Jean" grabs him by his arm, telling him to remember what she had said about lashing out or withdrawing, and tells him to go over the hill before it was too late. Logan says throughout his life, he had never backed down from a fight, and he didn't intend to back down even now that he's dead. As he unleashes his fury against the enemies, from behind, a giant figure appears. Logan looks up to find himself face to face with Colossus. Getting up, Logan utilizes Colossus in a "reverse fastball special": he hurls Colossus towards his enemies, pushing them through the gateway. As they disappear, Colossus tells Logan to tell the X-Men that Colossus was now back with his family and that he was now happy.
From the door that Logan had opened, "Jean" tells Logan that he had "...succeeded in losing your [Logan] one chance at peace -- possibly forever". As the door closes, she tells Logan "... one last thing before you go -- I'm not Jean". Logan runs towards the door, wondering who the redheaded woman he was talking with was, only to have the door close before he finds out. From behind the door, the red-haired woman is seen smelling a rose, saying "Farewell, James, my love ... perhaps we'll be reunited again someday ... someday ..."
Logan's eyeball is seen refocusing. A clawed fist burts from a canvassed bag. Logan is aboard a helicopter with two pilots. From behind, Logan sneaks up to the pilot, claws drawn, and proceeds to take them out.
Back at the X-Mansion, Logan tries to recall the "dream" that he had had. He had been dead for 23 minutes, and from what he could tell, the loss of his mutant power when the MPC weapon had been activated on him was only temporary, and his healing factor had kicked back in, which brought him back to life. As he wrestles with whether the visions he had had was just a dream ... whether he, himself, really was the cause of his own memory loss, the doorbell rings. On the other side stood Amiko with a note. As the two hugged, Logan read the note. The note was from The Director, who returned Amiko to him as a sign of good faith that what Sabretooth had done was something that neither he nor the Weapon X program had sanctioned, and apologized for the harm that had been caused to his loved ones. Logan, with Amiko in his arms, leads her to the kitchen for some food.