Wolverine #69: "Old Man Logan"

The devolution of Mark Millar's "Old Man Logan" began last issue when instead of the road-movie at a rapid pace feeling of the series, readers got an unnecessary detour, spending all of issue #68 stuck at the "new" Kingpin's headquarters. It was presumably, an issue that further outlined Millar's fun-disturbing version of the Marvel universe without heroes, that also gave Hawkeye some back-story, but it slowed the series down, and replaced the series' hard-assed tone with out-and-out cynicism.

The hook of the issue and what was intended to be shocking and emotional, was Hawkeye's attempt to save his daughter Spider-Girl from all of this. Instead, upon saving, she mutters played-out Millar-isms about taking over Kingpin's turf and uh, next, taking aim at her dad. Throw a really silly arena fight and you've got a series that was already on shaky ground and seemed tumbling towards this weird, self-congratulatory misanthropy.

This isn't the first time Millar's writing has gotten distracted or morphed into self-parody in three issues. Earlier this year, the complex emotions mixed with fun ultra-violence and meta-commentary on ultra-violence in Kick-Ass from #1 and #2 just became goofy violence and stuff like having a little girl say "cunt" in #3.

Before that point, the comic was good enough that Millar's uncomfortable misreading of crime, race, and American city-living was excusable, just as before Part Three of "Old Man Logan", the weird white-trashploitation of it all rolled off my reading back because, it was on some real road movie, two dudes past their prime emotionality shit mixed with uber comic nerd revisionism. And McNiven's art was awesome and still is, but not good enough to keep reading.

As Jesse discussed in his (positive) review of the last issue, Millar noted about the series' success: "I really think we've stumbled onto something very iconic here.” But the previous issue and especially this month's issue--both of which really, should've been edited into one issue-- feel more like Millar trying to make something "iconic" than stumbling upon something iconic. Millar's in Frank Miller "Dark Knight Returns" territory which is probably a positive to every comic reader except for me.

The series began as being all about minor events that slowly built to something bigger in terms of character development and presumably some interesting pay-off, but in issue #69 we've got Wolverine crashing through a building, stumbling into a Moloid-created earthquake, and then, a series of Marvel in-joke shockers--Loki crushed by a skyscraper, the symbiote spying on them from the mountains, Red Skull on Mt. Rushmore--that were "Woah" in the first two parts but now seem forced into a series that doesn't even need them anymore. Granted, the Red Skull one is pretty cool and especially effective as a two-page spread, but it's also the one that has a context besides cute in-joke.

The issue ends on the now-pacifist Wolverine coming super-close to losing it and rushing outside, upset both by his actions and the messed-up memories it brought back, and teasing us with exactly why violence now freaks him out so much. It's a weird cliff-hanger because it assumes readers really care why Wolverine's gone pacifist when there's so many bigger questions readers are asking, and shows how deep into its own myth-making "Old Man Logan" has fallen.

As I said before as an aside, this issue and last could've been cut down here and there and turned into one fairly successful issue. Skimming back through the issues, notice how again, in typical road movie style, events were underplayed and given five or so brilliantly concise pages and compare it to all the time wasted on the Spider-Girl sub-plot. This issue's pacing is better, but with no rewards, another cliffhanger, and the extra month to wait, "Old Man Logan" seems to have bought into it's own purposefully sorta silly mythology.

I think it's especially interesting in lieu of Cable's continued, kinda inexplicable brilliance. What Cable has going for it more than anything else is consistency. It's been a slow burn since the first issue, but one crammed with enough weirdness and interesting characterization and the right kind of cliffhangers--the kind that doesn't seem to promise too much or end up as a boner-kill--that reward constant readers and don't alienate new ones.

1 comment:

david e. ford, jr said...


this is a nice review, which sort of sums up this confusion i have been feeling about this comic. the day i purchased and read (and re-read [and re-read]) the first issue of this series is one of like, THE singular moments in my relatively short comics reading career. i can even recall the physical sensations that i experienced as a result of the issue's stark, hard=scrabble, colorless imagery. the bleak environment and inglorious violence coupled with the subdued color pallet had an effect reminiscent of the terse, unforgiving prose of an early mccarthy novel. the last couple of issues almost feel as though the narrative was picked up by a new writer and colorist who didnt bother to read the first couple of issues.