Usually, when a comic book is adapted into a motion comic, the only thing that moves is a thought or dialog bubble as it pops onto the screen. But like their previous releases, the Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today DVD from Shout! Factory and Marvel Knights goes beyond the usual conventions, turning this engaging comic book into what’s really an animated mini-movie.
When Deathlok comes back from the future to kill people who will one day become someone important or the parents of someone important, it’s up to Wolverine and his super friends to stop him. Released in 2010 as six-issue miniseries, Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today was written by current Wolverine And The X-Men scribe Jason Aaron, drawn by Ghost Rider artist Ron Garney, and has since been collected as Wolverine Weapon X: Volume 3: Tomorrow Dies Today.
Which not only means we can credit Aaron and Garney for the smart and sometimes darkly funny script and the richly detailed art, but also for the fact that Deathlok here ends up being low-rent Terminator. Granted, any time you have a cyborg who goes back in time to kill someone, there will be comparisons to that classic 1985 sci-fi film. And Deathlok isn’t the most interesting bad guy to begin with. But Deathlok is so Terminator-ish here that you half expect him to start talking about how California is just fantastic.
For those able to look past Deathlok’s being so Terminator-ish, though, the Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today DVD does a great job of animating the original comic pages. This is largely because, as with such previous motion comics by Shout! Factory and Marvel Knights as 2010’s Iron Man: Extremis, 2011’s Black Panther, and 2012’s Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous, there’s so much that moves in Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today that you’ll be hard-pressed to tell it’s not been drawn from scratch. Rather than just taking a page from the book and making someone’s limbs move, the animators — and I use that word intentionally — also put in small facial movements and other little motions that help bring the original comic art to life.
The makers of Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today also did a good job when it came to the voice acting. Sure, no one does Wolverine as well as Steve Blum, who’s done his voice in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine game, the Wolverine anime, and eighty million other things with the word “Wolverine” in the title. But in his absence, Brian Drummond — who’s done Wolverine’s voice for such other motion comic DVDs as Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk and Wolverine Vs. Sabretooth — does a god job of providing a gruff voice. And the same goes for the rest of the cast.
But the voice acting is also where Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today runs into problems. Because there are only seven people in the cast, and they each do between three and eight characters each, a lot of people in this sound similar. Especially the female characters, since they’re all done by Lisa Ann Beley (Planet Hulk).
Then there’s a somewhat moot issue that arises out of the fact that Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today is presented in six parts, one for each issue of the comic series. When it was originally shown online, each episode naturally included opening titles and end credits. But rather than cut most them out, and present this as one continuous hour-long video, the Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today DVD has the six episodes as they were when they were posted online. Which means that if you sit down to watch the whole thing straight through, you have to sit through the opening titles and end credits every single time.
Or rather, you would if the person who put this DVD together hadn’t thoughtfully made the opening titles and end credits into DVD chapters of their own. Which means you can easily skip them. Which is still a pain in the butt, and should’ve been avoided — hence why I mention it — but at least you don’t have to sit through the opening titles and end credits as much as you’ve had to read the words “opening titles and end credits” in the last two paragraphs.
The irony being that, had this been made into a fully animated movie, it probably wouldn’t have been as good as this motion comic. Unlike their pals at DC Comics, Marvel doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to cartoons. Sure, the iconic ’60s Spider-Man ’toon was fun, but as we’ve seen so many times before — most recently with the anime Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (my review of which you can read here) — Marvel just doesn’t have the same luck with animated movies as they have with live-action ones.
Along with the motion comic, the Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today also includes a rather self-explanatory featurette called “The Journey: Looking Back At Tomorrow Dies Today.” But while this fifteen-minute-long making-of video is informative, detailing how the comic book came about, it does come up a little short, if only because writer Jason Aaron doesn’t appear in it. This is no slam on artist Ron Garney, who explains everything nicely, but without Aaron, it’s hard not to feel like you’re only getting half of the story.
It also would’ve been nice if the Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today DVD had also included a making-of featurette showing how the original book was translated into this motion comic. Or if that aspect had been part of “The Journey.” While Garney does talk about how he feels about motion comics in that featurette, it would’ve been nice to see how this was actually put together.
Still, because the people who put this together did such a good job, one that goes above and beyond what most people expect from a motion comics, Wolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today ends up being a great adaptation of the Aaron’s and Garney’s original comic. Sure, the book was better, as it always is, but even people who’ve read it multiple times will enjoy seeing it in motion.