Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Supernatural Origin - John's Story

Here at Supernatural Sisters we’ve put a lot of thought and discussion into John Winchester. What would make a dad take his kids on the road like that? How could he abandon them time and again? Did he really do the best he could? While we can only speculate what drove this man, haunted by his wife’s horrific death, there really haven’t been any clear answers. Until now.

In Supernatural Origins, the graphic novel prequel to the TV show we all know and love, we learn exactly what happened to John after Mary burst into flames. Yes, Terri, but it’s just a comic, you say. How tied to the show could it really be? Well, it was written by Supernatural’s co-executive producer Peter Johnson, with heavy input by Kripke himself. Who better to know the missing lore?

But before I reveal the insight Origin offers, let me just say this: I’m not any kind of comic book aficionado. I read Joss Whedon’s Fray and thoroughly enjoyed it and I do own every issue of Buffy Season 8, but that’s about it. I read Origin to extend my fan experience, however I have to say I was not a fan of the artwork. The Buffy 8 artists are amazing. I love their colorful and crisp work. In comparison, I found the artwork in Origin to be blocky, muddy and too heavily shadowed, the exception being two back-up covers I loved. Too bad the entire comic wasn’t drawn in that style. Instead, John Winchester comes off looking like Paul Bunyon. That complaint aside, I did like the little nuggets offered about his character

In the story we learn John didn’t have a funeral for Mary because he couldn’t think about shaking the hands of family and friends while he buried a secret deep in his gut and he couldn’t stand alongside a priest while he spoke of Heaven and peace on Earth. John knows what he saw! It was anything, but peaceful. Where does that leave him now? Poor Sammy can’t stop crying. It’s “like he’s got something TERRIBLE inside” and Dean stopped talking altogether. Torn up and wanting to understand what happened to his beloved wife, John leaves his boys with their mom’s best friend, Julie, while he does some investigating. When things dead end, John goes to a bar, clearly looking for trouble. He finds it, along with a psychic named Missouri. She gives him a reading and sees that someone nearby is in the same kind of danger Mary was. They rush to the house and find bloody words written on the wall: We’re Coming for the Children. John freaks and bolts for home. Julie’s dead, but the boys are safe in their beds. Missouri tells John he needs to leave NOW and take the boys with him and she hands him a ginormous tooth that belonged to the thing that killed his wife.

John ends up on Fletcher Gable’s doorstep where the eccentric advises John to write everything down in a blank book, starting with the fact that the tooth came from a Black shuck aka overgrown hellhound. That night, as John’s getting ready to hunt down the shuck, Mary’s very pissed off brother knocks down the hotel door. He thinks John’s going loco and Jacob plans to take his nephews. John, figuring there’s only one way to convince Jacob of the truth, drags him to the cemetery where his brother-in-law is promptly killed by the hellhound. Just as John himself is about to become kibble, a stranger shoots the dog.

It seems John has a mysterious mentor. Together they head to Harvelle’s where they join up with another hunter to find a Heeler. It’s there John ends up making his first kill…in front of Dean. That spurs John to leave the boys with relatives for a couple weeks while he hits the road again. On his journey John battles the uber-creepy Doc Benton (remember him?), has a celestial reunion with Mary--thanks to an I-See-Dead-People priest--saves his mentor’s life and ends up at The Fore Inn (The Inferno) a creepy motel where John’s mentor plays riddle-me-this and reveals that the hellhound is actually his, they had nothing to do with Mary’s death, but John really shouldn’t be so foolish and trusting.

“We need you out there, John. You and your boys. Hunting. Training. Becoming who you were meant to be. Drowning yourself on a barstool back in Kansas does yourself no good—and it certainly doesn’t work for us. Mary’s death lit your match. We just needed to give your fury a little focus.”

Throughout the story John is constantly told it takes “sacrifice” to move forward and his boys are part of the sacrifice he has to make. The end comes with John reclaiming his boys and hitting the road. “We got work to do.” But one question remains—WHO wanted them out there?

Who do you think is responsible for turning the Winchesters into hunters?

P.S. - Watch for a future review of Rising Son, the next installment in the comic series.


phouse1964 said...

I am going to have to go back and read this again. I remember not liking the artwork too!

I don't remember Samuel coming for John (Mary's dad) and after "In the Beginning", one of my favorite episodes ever, this might make me like this comic series even less.

I have Rising Son to re-read before you get your net review up!

phouse1964 said...

Oh! Are you going to review John's Journal? I just finished and am very curious as to what others think.

Anonymous said...

Oops! You caught an error. Jacob is their uncle. I was wondering after you said Samuel. Fixing now... (blush)

I was planning to review John's Journal. I have it on order.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I didn't like the artwork, either, but I figured that's just a matter of taste.

Even though Peter Johnson was involved, he's also the one who insisted the Impala was not in the flashback in the pilot and came up with a totally different way John wound up with it in the comics. So I feel completely justified in blowing off the comics as non-canon. :P

Mostly, I felt the world of the comics (even more in Rising Son) was too far removed from the world of the show, though I did feel there were a few nuggets of insight in them.