Backstories you need to know to fully understand Logan

Blockbuster superhero movies can be a bit intimidating. Many fans want to know as much as possible about the characters and background of the movie before they dive in, but the decades and decades of comic history make it seem impossible to truly catch up. Fortunately, there are only a few backstories that you need to know to fully understand Logan, and this will be your handy primer to each and every one of them. The descriptions try to steer clear of significant spoilers for either the comics themselves or Logan, but if you truly want to know nothing at all about the movie before you dive in, this is your chance to bail. Or you can be like Wolverine himself and dive right in!

Old Man Logan

If you only read one comic before going to see Logan, that comic should be Old Man Logan. The premise of this story is pretty much right in the name, as it showcases the life of a much older Logan in a world with very few heroes left and supervillains pretty much running the show. The film takes a great many liberties with the original story, but this comic is your opportunity to see the original story of Logan as an aging, isolated cowboy who struggles between laying down his claws or fighting back against the madness of the world around him.

X-23: Innocence Lost

As the trailers for Logan make abundantly clear, the young girl, X-23, is a female clone of Wolverine, right down to the scary claws and killer instinct. While the movie provides some clues about her life and background before she escaped the program that made her who she is, the comic collection X-23: Innocence Lost really delves into this. This story details how X-23 is created, how she is given a positive role model via her surrogate mother, and how she eventually moves on to the next stage of her life. The comic also notably introduces the character of Dr. Zander Rice, a man who oversees aspects of X-23's creation and has a small role in Logan.

X-Force: Angels and Demons

Obviously, part of the joy of watching Logan is seeing him and X-23 working alongside each other. Logan, after all, is the veteran killer-turned-hero who has spent a lifetime trying to atone for the sins of his previous life. As such, he wants X-23 to ultimately be better than he was—not just as a fighter, but as a person. This dynamic is illustrated very well by the X-Force story Angels and Demons. In this incarnation of X-Force, they basically function as a mutant wetworks squad, doing the dirty work that the X-Men (being the public's main reference point for mutants) cannot do. X-23 is placed in this squad due to her killer instincts and experience, but Wolverine tries to mentor her during this time and help her keep her humanity despite their grim mission. Overall, reading this tale is a great primer for their onscreen dynamic in Logan.

All-New Wolverine

Hugh Jackman has stated in recent interviews that Logan will be his last turn as the character. While the movie is set in the future and leaves the possibility of him appearing in movies that are chronologically earlier in the timeline, Jackman has decided to bow out on this high note of a movie. As such, many people are wondering if the young X-23 will possibly take over as the character in future X-Men and/or Wolverine movies. And while it's impossible to know if that's true, you can already get ready for this possibility by reading All-New Wolverine. These comics take place after the comic Logan has finally died, and X-23 now honors his memory by wearing his costume and using his name to fight bad guys. This comic is also notable for showcasing how amazing X-23 is, and you'll definitely want to see more of her adventures after leaving the theater.

Uncanny X-Men #247-251

As seen in various trailers, one of the main bad guys of Logan is Donald Pierce, a kind of cybernetically enhanced mutant hunter. He helps lead the Reavers, who are also cybernetically enhanced and who collectively pose a major threat to mutants. As such, some good comics to read before the movie are Uncanny X-Men #247-251. These issues showcase Donald Pierce attacking the X-Men with the Reavers, who are bad guys that Wolverine and the X-Men have prior history with. Pierce has given all of them upgrades and thrown them at the most powerful mutant team on Earth, which makes for a great primer to the Reaver-on-mutant action of Logan.

X-Cutioner's Song

One of the most surprising elements shown in early trailers of Logan was Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier. Xavier, as he reminds Logan with surprising vulgarity, is 90 years old, and his mind and body aren't what they once were. So, even as Logan takes a new mutant under his wing and tries to evade Pierce and the Reavers, he must keep Xavier safe from violence while simultaneously trying to keep a degrading Xavier safe from himself.

There is actually very little comic book precedent for this. Xavier has died before, and he's faked his death quite a bit, but we rarely see characters have to take care of a slowly dying Xavier. The notable exception to this is the X-Cutioner's Song storyline. This story involves a mutant who looks exactly like Cable showing up and shooting Charles Xavier. Instead of using a normal bullet, though, this mutant infects Xavier with a version of the techno-organic virus. This virus is slowly killing Xavier, and his X-Men and other mutants must try to find a cure even as they fight off mysterious forces and take care of their dying mentor. Thus, while the story is very different, this tale serves as a nice comics precursor to the onscreen drama.

Uncanny X-Men #148

While Xavier is a surprising addition to Logan, one even more surprising addition is that of Caliban. Caliban, as you may remember from X-Men: Apocalypse, is an albino mutant with the special ability to track other mutants. He ends up playing a much more prominent role in Logan, so that makes it worth your time to read Uncanny X-Men #148. This comic is our first introduction to Caliban, and it shows his old days of running around in New York City's sewer system with a group of outcast mutants called the Morlocks. It's also interesting to contrast Caliban's personality and appearance in this early story with later tales and movies, as this mysterious mutant is constantly changing.

NYX #3

Speaking of first appearances in comics, completists are going to want to read NYX #3, which first introduced X-23, Laura Kinney, to the Marvel Comics universe. As X-23 superfans can tell you, her real first appearance was in the X-Men: Evolution cartoon, but like her cartoon predecessor Harley Quinn over on Batman: The Animated Series, she was popular enough to be introduced into her respective "main" comics universe. However, you should note that the NYX comics are not for the faint of heart, as they deal with the darker side of life as a mutant; X-23's story is particularly bleak, though it helps to illustrate how far she eventually grows as a character.

X-23: Target X #1-6

Those who finish X-23: Innocence Lost will instantly want to know more about X-23's story. Where does she go after Weapon X? How does she end up on the streets, as we see in NYX? X-23: Target X is a comic series that seeks to answer those questions even as it further cements her place in the Marvel universe via cameos by S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and Captain America. This comic story is also notable for showing how Wolverine and X-23 first meet, although the exact circumstances of their first meeting is something of a continuity tangle. Regardless, knowing more of her background, abilities, and relationship with Wolverine makes this an invaluable read before seeing Logan.

Origin

Despite the fact that Logan is allegedly the last movie featuring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, many fans still don't know that much about his character. This is partially the fault of Marvel Comics, as Wolverine's early stories featured the idea that he had many implanted memories. Thus, even when the comics showed us events from his past, there was always the lingering fear that those events may or may not have really happened. Eventually, though, Marvel put out a series, Origin, that showed the true story of his early life, the manifestation of his abilities, and even his real name: James Howlett. Considering that Logan is going by that name again in Logan as a way of staying under the radar, it's certainly worth examining who the character was back before he was neither a lab rat nor a hero.