Anghus Houvouras reviews Old Man Logan #1…
Fifty years from now, Logan — the man who no longer calls himself Wolverine — will have endured many atrocities: The Marvel Universe’s villains will have banded together and rid the world of its heroes. Logan’s closest friend, Hawkeye, will have been murdered in cold blood right before his eyes. And driven mad by the same radiation that gave him his superhuman strength, Bruce Banner will have fathered a family of hillbilly Hulks…that eventually went on to slaughter Logan’s wife and two children. But now, in the present, Old Man Logan wakes up to discover himself in a world before these atrocities, before the Wasteland. And he’s going to seize this opportunity and change history to ensure that his future never comes to pass…
SEE ALSO: Preview of Old Man Logan #1
What do you get when you take one of the most revered writers in the comic industry and pair him with one of the most popular characters in the history of the medium? In an ideal world, you get something riveting, but mainstream comics right now are anything other than ideal.
We’re swimming in the remnants of the rusty chum bucket that was Marvel’s Secret Wars. An utterly nonsensical piece of tripe that shredded continuity and turned their entire line into a bloody mess. And like every recent attempt at an event comic, the aftermath is far more interesting than the limited series from which it was spawned.
Old Man Logan is an extremely interesting premise. One of the best pieces of work Marvel has put out in the last 10 years back when Mark Millar was finding interesting takes on characters that had lost their luster. Between Old Man Logan and Civil War, Millar made a habit of reinvigorating a tired brand.
The goal of Secret Wars was to allow Marvel to pick and choose various iterations of its most famous characters and assemble them under a single umbrella of continuity, patching and weaving various universes and alternate realities like a four-color Frankenstein Monster. After ‘killing’ Wolverine awhile back, the powers that be decided this new ‘anything goes’ mentality would be a good time to replace the character with his older, grizzled, dystopian counterpart.
Old Man Logan #1 is an interesting read because it feels so completely inorganic. It’s a classic What If style story that readers are supposed to take seriously. And damn it if Jeff Lemire doesn’t do a damn fine job trying to put some shine on this shit. For the mother of all gimmick comics, it’s pretty damn readable. We find Old Man Logan on the streets of New York City naked and confused, trapped in a world he doesn’t recognize. In his future life, his family has been slaughtered by hillbilly Hulks sired by Bruce Banner. We are briefly taken back into this world to see a more timid Logan and his son Scotty in a desolate landscape that might seem common in any of the Mad Max films. While trying to bargain for parts Logan runs into a gang of atypical wasteland thugs who rough up his son and steal his hat.
Once Logan gets his bearings and realizes that he’s travelled back in time, he decides to set a course to make sure his hellish future doesn’t become a reality and makes a list of people he needs to kill because that’s pretty much what Wolverine does. Though it is a little weird that the first person on his ‘brutal murder to do’ list is, conveniently, the guy from the flashback that bitchslaps his son. It was an eye-roll moment if ever there was one. Lemire is a good writer. He even manages to make this dreck readable. While the idea of an aged Wolverine going on a killing spree of Marvel’s Most Wanted is a solid premise for the series, the amount of creative convenience and nonsensical plotting for this first issue is enough to make even the most forgiving comic reader to ask ‘what on Earth is happening here?’
It’s a super laughable moment because as we get the setup in motion, Logan writes down four names on his arm with a sharpie. Most of them make sense.
Red Skull – Terrible villain who in the future world ends up responsible for killing off a lot of heroes
Banner – The Hulk, whose demon spawn end up killing Logan’s family. By killing the Hulk, his gamma irradiated sperm will never impregnate anyone
Mysterio – In the original Old Man Logan series, Mysterio tricks Wolverine into killing his comrades thanks to some fancy illusionist tricks.
Butcher – a guy who one time slapped his kid
Say what? Who’s next on the list Logan? The attendant who shorted you at the toll booth? The guy who told you blue and yellow spandex made you look fat?
It’s amazing how one poorly plotted out moment can unravel an entire comic. There’s a lot of good going on in Old Man Logan. The premise, though hackneyed, has a lot of potential. The art from Andrea Sorrentino has an exciting visual dynamic that feels like a cross between Jae Lee and Alex Maleev. The only real failing here is Lemire’s plotting which for some reason makes one of Logan’s four most killable people on the planet a low-life nobody who slapped his son in a future that will probably never happen. It’s such a jarring, strange choice in a comic that I will now struggle to take seriously.
This is the danger with the current line-up of ‘Greatest Hits’ comics in Marvel’s ironically named All New, All Different titles. Old Man Logan isn’t really All New OR All different. It’s more of the same, and unfortunately a far cry from Mark Millar’s rather brilliant original series.
Perhaps there’s more potential for Old Man Wolverine in one of the group books like Extraordinary X-Men or one of the fourteen iterations of the Avengers. As a solo title, this already thin premise feels worn out after a single issue.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker and the co-host of Across the Pondcast. Follow him on Twitter.