That Old Man Logan Just Keeps Rollin'

Wolverine #66-68 “Old Man Logan” Parts 1-3
By Mark Millar and Steve McNiven with Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell

So, if you haven’t been reading "Old Man Logan" you’ve seriously been missing out. The premise is that sometime in the future the super villains all got together, defeated the super heroes, and now rule feudal territories in America. Wolverine survived where most other heroes were killed, but he was beaten so badly that he’s become a pacifist vowing never to "snikt" his claws again. A blind Hawkeye shows up and offers to pay Logan’s rent money if he drives across the country with him to deliver a package.

McNiven's art has alternately a serious and playful tone that mimics the personality of Logan and Hawkeye, the two main characters. The level of detail in the characters makes the comic feel gritty and real, but a thick outline around them and the relatively bright coloring work give it a distinct comic book feel. It gives the sense of a dystopian future but one where super heroes once existed. The first page of Part 1 touches on a much darker apocalyptic tone but the comic wisely uses these moments sparingly and doesn’t make its point too heavy-handed.

Part 3 touches on the apocalyptic tone when Ultron 8 hands Logan an X-Men key chain. The next panel shows a wide-eyed Logan staring down at it with a horrified expression on his face, as the weight of the past floods back to him. It’s a great panel that shows us what Wolverine is feeling instead of saying it explicitly. The following panels are the apocalyptic imagery of the night Wolverine lost his will to fight. A sad, broken Wolverine also boils him down to his essential goodness. The Wolverine who was a tough loner and subtly caring is switched to a family-man Logan who is outwardly caring but subtly tough. In Part 3, Logan and Hawkeye drive through a deserted town sunk by the Moloids. Logan wants to help a man trapped at the top of a church while Hawkeye blows him off. It shows how Wolverine has grown in character while Hawkeye has reverted to his criminal and uncaring past.

The plot is slow moving but multiple full-page and double-page spreads gives each issue a quick reading pace. Late in Part 1, there is map of the United States now divided up into super villain territories. The nearly two-page spread gets us immersed into the world that Logan now lives in and gives a more-than established setting and atmosphere. If reading just for plot, it would be skimmed over and forgotten but close comic readers will understand why maps are so exciting. They illustrate one of the best and most unique aspects of comics. It gives you a sense of foreshadowing but the most interesting thing is that you can come back to it at any time and study it but with a completely different view of the same image.

This exciting panel work is continued into the final seven pages of Part 3, in a fight scene between Hawkeye and the Kingpin’s men. It begins with a page and a half spread of the Spider-Buggy driving through a wall. The Spider-Buggy is positioned right on the crease of the page giving the feeling of the amount of force a car driving through a wall would take by making it drive right through onto the other page. The next page has a Miller/Claremont-like sequence of Hawkeye mowing through some goons and another flip of the page reveals another two-page spread with a sliver at the bottom of Hawkeye’s daughter batting the Kingpin’s head off with the butt of a shotgun. It feels like the shotgun is busting through the page.

With the third printing of Wolverine #66 and the second printing of #67, the series looks like it is striking a cord with comics readers. Mark Millar even hinted at a comparison to Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and said, “I really think we've stumbled onto something very iconic here.” If he keeps up at this pace, I think he could be right.

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