Remember when you picked up Wolverine #66 and Logan was this sad farmer who didn't fight anymore and it was great? It seems so long ago that "Old Man Logan" was a slow-paced buddy-road comic. With the latest issue, the story has morphed into something closer to a movie blockbuster than a comic book. A quick summary proves this point. This issue contains: Black Bolt stopping a Venom T-Rex, Emma Frost, Pym Falls, Dr. Doom, and the contents of Hawkeye's secret box.
The series has become more about plot twists and throwaway fan-boy moments than character development. When we get to the double page spread of Pym Falls it's cool and all but that’s about it. There’s no substance to it and it doesn’t really mean anything to the characters when they pass by. It’s just a landmark like passing the world’s largest ball of string.
The first issues in the series were exciting because the events of this villain run future were going on in the background of strong characterization of Logan and his supporting cast. The Hulk Gang was a cool idea but also functioned as part of Wolverine's character. He refuses to fight them and is subservient to them as landlords. The world surrounding Logan has become bland because the world is getting all the attention while Logan and Hawkeye remain in the background. Initially it was Old Man Logan featuring an insane apocalyptic future world but now it’s the complete reverse.
When Emma mentions Logan’s family life, Logan barely reacts. She validates through her mental powers that, yes, Logan is happy but he hasn’t shown it in any way. Millar has been so busy throwing events atop Logan, so he'll have his eventual claw-popping freak-out, that he’s forgotten what made the series so exciting in the first place: Logan's interiority, not the exterior Marvel Universe.
The inventive panel layouts of the first three parts have become stale. One of the best panels from an earlier issue was in #68 when the Spider-Buggy drives through a wall and inside a building. That same layout is reused in issue #71 for a less dynamic effect as the Spider-Buggy's chased by the Venom T-Rex. This sums up what has happened to the series. Its lost its momentum and seems to be just treading the same thematic waters. Logan doesn’t take time to stare at an X-Men button and remember his past. The issues have become too packed with plot and action to be able pause and examine the character closely.
The series took a probably permanent wrong turn last issue when Wolverine’s motivations were revealed. There’s really no reason why we needed to know what specifically broke his spirit. It doesn’t add anything to the story and feels like a cheap revelation.
With any previous knowledge of Wolverine, our mind instantly thinks of some of the most disturbing scenarios possible that led to his not using the claws. Millar certainly picked a really messed-up reason for him but the impact of it is completely taken away by its place in the story. This is something we should find out in last issue, if at all. Imagine Wolverine pops his claws for the first time in years and simultaneously remembers killing the X-Men. I know it’s stupid to play the ‘What If’ game but this series has so much wasted potential you can't help but rewrite it in your head.
Going back and re-reading the first issue it’s crafted really well. This is something that happens in a lot of series. They start to lose their main thesis and momentum. Whether it is the deadlines of producing issue after issue, meddling editors, or just a problem with the creators, it’s kind of something that needs to be figured out in comics...too many series' just fall apart.