Posted by Don MacPherson on June 23rd, 2008
“Old Man Logan, Part 1″
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Steve McNiven
Inks: Dexter Vines
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: McNiven & Vines (regular cover)/Michael Turner & Mark Roslan (alternate cover)
Editor: John Barber
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99 US/$3.05 CAN
For a longtime fan of American super-hero comics, I can’t deny that Millar’s story of a broken hero and a dystopian vision of the future of the Marvel Universe is entertaining. It’s designed for the devoted super-hero fan. The problem is that it’s hardly the most unique story, and I don’t just mean for Marvel Comics historically. It’s only been a few years since Wolverine: The End was released, and that’s just one of a litany of alternate-future stories that have been all too common as of late. There are a couple of moments and visuals in this comic that will tickle the fancy of fans of comics continuity and history, but ultimately, there’s nothing new or different here to set this story arc apart from others that came before it. On the other hand, I am pleased that Marvel is publishing these focused, special story arcs from top-name talent in its ongoing titles rather than milking its readership with yet another limited series (not that Marvel doesn’t milk its readership with additional Wolverine titles).
Decades from now, after the villains won a war against America’s super-heroes, an old warrior and champion named Logan who has cast off his violent ways and crusades for justice toils on a barren farm, doing his best to provide for his family. It’s clear he’s not going to be able to make the rent this month, though, and that carries a painful price. An old ally approaches him with an opportunity to earn enough money to protect and provide for his wife and children for quite some time. All he has to do is serve as his friend’s guide on a cross-country trip. Logan is promised he needn’t unsheathe his claws, but given the dangers that lie ahead, that may not be a promise that can be kept.
McNiven’s artwork is as impressive as it’s ever been. He captures the arid nature of the West Coast setting with seeming ease, not to mention the sparse look of the backdrop. Hollowell’s palette of browns and yellows reinforces the desolate quality of the setting as well. I realize the script calls for this issue’s antagonists to be superhuman hillbillies, but McNiven’s depiction of those characters makes them seem ridiculous rather than menacing. Logan’s age makes for a stark contrast with the youth of his future wife and children, and it help to isolate him visually from them, mirroring the emotional divide between them as well. The cover (regular edition) is a bit disappointing, as it reveals too many secrets/surprises that lie within. The cover logo/masthead is a bit confusing as well, as it makes it seem as though this is a new title rather than the latest issue of an ongoing series.
Millar’s dressed up this vision of Wolverine’s future as a Western, adopting a somewhat familiar formula. Logan is the retired gunfighter who has cast off his violent ways to adopt a peaceful life and a family for which he can care, but he finds himself dragged back into a world he tried to leave behind. I like the notion of bringing another genre into play in a super-hero story, but the foundation here is rather cliched.
Writer Mark Millar has been responsible for some rather inventive work over the last few years. Chosen comes to mind, but even his super-hero work has shown some innovative thinking. Civil War, though hindered by problems with execution, was a great high concept, and his new creator-owned title, Kick-Ass, is a strong character study and an interesting deconstruction of the super-hero concept. Sadly, none of the originality is to be found in his latest foray into the world of Marvel’s most popular mutant. This quick read is diverting for fans of the genre and the character, but it’s not compelling or memorable. Maybe Millar has something twisted and imaginative in store. I certainly would hope so. 5/10