Thousand Faced: Wolverine Old Man Logan

Wolverine: Old Man Logan
Written by: Mark Millar
Artist: Steve McNivin
Published by: Marvel Comics

If there has been a saving grace and a consistent tremendous money-maker for Marvel in the last thirty years it’s been Wolverine. Admittedly, it has also led to “Freebird” syndrome as a series of crass marketing ploys in order to move units. For awhile there in the early 90s you couldn’t get away from it. Wolverine or Wolverine-inspired characters were everywhere. You could break out in Wolverine or ninjas or both if you went out in steamy weather without cornstarch all over your junk. Seriously, it was just like that. Yuppie “collectors” looking for investment returns went for this crap big time. These investors would buy a used Kleenex if Wolverine was in it. Then it was realized that millions of wads of “Wolverined” Kleenex still won’t increase in value. Fortunately once those guys helped bankrupt Marvel, they got out of comics and went into home mortgages and investment banking. I wonder how that turned out?

That being said, because I’m just the kind of a-hole that likes to point out what’s at the end of the fork; I really do love a damn good Wolverine story. Old Man Logan, out of a handful of classics is right there at the top of the heap. It’s like a great western tale featuring some well-aged cool characters in the best installment yet of Mark Millar’s “unified villain theory of the end of the universe”. If you’ve read Wanted or DC’s Final Crisis you have encountered the “all the bad guys get together and swarm the good guys with a horrific slaughter until numbers eventually tell”. It makes sense. Every time. This time though, the story takes place in a dystopian Marvel universe aftermath. The country is balkanized and broken like a Mad Max variant. Sections of the nation are now controlled by different super villains. Redneck Hulks got California. Yes. Redneck Hulks, complete with nursing emerald baby asucklin’ away at his mama’s saggy green breast. They fly a vandalized graffiti-covered Fantasticar. Oh man, things are bad. Logan, as he now insists he’s called, can’t pay the rent on his withered homestead and gets a savage beating from a trio of Hulks. While bedridden, a blind Hawkeye shows up with a job offer to help him run a mission across country with Logan as the wheelman. They leave in…this is good…The Spider Mobile. This vehicle even has “kung-fu grip” that’ s how handy it is. And this buddies on the road flick is on.

Steven McNivin’s pencil’s compliment Millar’s Shane-like script beautifully. You will see some harsh desperate situations and they will make you feel the visceral reaction as if you are there. I now know Wolverine wore a mask so he would not be hunted like a maniac. I swear he was chewing on the felled corpse of an enemy. His face a mask of blood and feral teeth in a snarl, Wolverine is not a children’s audience suitable character despite the cartoons and kiddie toys lined on department store shelves.

Do sawed-off shotguns as a club used for a radical decapitation turn you on? Good. It’s  disconcerting when I’m the only sicko in the room. The harshest moment is Logan recalling the event that changed him. And who knows what happens to a man’s mind after the train…yes, a god damned train…runs over your head. It’s like watching Iggy Pop with a healing factor. Just when you thought you couldn’t pack more tragedy into this character it’s been wedged in there in most painful ways.

This journey is a Post-Apocalyptic romp through a viciously deconstructed Marvel America of the future.  You see:  Spider Man’s  daughter and her step-dad Ultron  8. Venom. Moloids snacking on citizens and sink holing entire towns. Red Skull is President of the United States (kinda like a Tea Party with no subtly at all) Hammerfall, where Thor got murdered and Mjolinor  his uru hammer still rests waiting for a suitable hero to show. If you ever loved the Marvel Universe this one hits you in the gut every few pages.

Old Man Logan is a game changer. From this point on Wolverine will age into Old Man Logan.  It is simply too good to ignore, It will taint like fish placed next to milk in the refrigerator. The smell will remain and like the inevitability of Jason Todd’s death in Batman once mentioned in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in 1986. This was years before we fans voted on it and made it so as far as public continuity. This is where Wolverine will be going. Besides, what happens with the Redneck Hulks just has to happen. It’s epic.

by Bill Hilburn

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