Old Man Logan #1
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Andrea Sorrentino
I have a confession to make. It’s painful and not something I’m proud of—I’m a fan of Mark Millar. Sure he’s a huge misogynist with some of the worst dialogue I have ever heard but God Damn it if he isn’t an amazing world builder. Every story he constructs brings me in with such wide eyed wonder and excitement—only to be forcibly pushed out by his atrocious characters. That’s why I fell so hard for “Old Man Logan” when it initially came out. Not only did it take place in my favorite comic book universe but it carried with it the stipulation: “What if the heroes had lost?” That’s why when Secret Wars promised a return to that world I got genuinely giddy. Perhaps this would be our chance to get so many answers to questions left dangling at the end of “Old Man Logan”.
First, for those unfamiliar, the “Old Man Logan” universe takes place 50 years in the future. In it good guys lost, bad guys won, and now they run everything. They broke up the United States into different fiefdoms, each governed by a different baddie. It’s kind of like those old western films where the hero would ride into a town only to discover some blackhat shaking down the townspeople. Except in this case the hero was Wolverine and he’d gone through enough to make him hang up his hero pants. But then the Hulk murdered his entire family and he turned into the murder machine we’re all used to.
There’s a reason my interest was piqued at a Secret Wars “Old Man Logan” book, and it’s the same reason why “Secret Wars” #2 works so well: World Building. The book starts off immediately in the remains of Las Vegas and for some inexplicable reason there’s a Daredevil theme to everything. Boom! You’ve got me hooked. I’ve got to find out what is with the man without fear—or is it the man without fear? And that’s what the hook is for this book. Seeing those things that are familiar but twisted, exploring a world that reveals nuggets of the 616 while showcasing new landscapes. After all, the only reason we follow Wolverine in the first place is he removed himself from the world, so Wolverine and reader discover this landscape at the same time. However, this is where things take a worrying turn.
Not wishing to spoil the actual issue, at the end of the book Wolverine decides he needs to leave his continent and venture over the wall. Now let me stop you there, I assume Secret Wars is going to explore the zombie infested wasteland beyond the wall—or at least they’ll use one of their dozens side books to so it for them. So why do we also need to explore the zombie district? I’m far more invested in the world we’re already in. We just found Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter, let’s go find more Avenger children, maybe play a weird “Who porked who?” Easter egg hunt. Instead this story is quickly devolving into a Wolverine story. Guh. I guess he couldn’t stay dead through a giant company crossover event. But it’s disappointing that when the giant company crossover comes a callin’, Wolverine suddenly goes gung ho solo.
Look, I’m not calling the book bad. The artwork is absolutely amazing—true it’s no match for the original Steve McNiven. Still it does an outstanding job of capturing the desolate and hopeless world while also showing off some brilliant fighting. Taken as just a comic book, its entertainment value is worth the cash but I have to wonder if the next book in the series can capture this same value. Still, book was good.
The thing about these books set in alternate worlds is we want to compare differences, see change over time. When Invincible was stuck in that alternate dimension by Angstrom Levi, it was his teammates who came through to save him—but they had aged ten years. We got to know an Atom Eve who was filled with regret that she had never spoken the truth to Mark while he was still around. I know it’s a little “It’s a Wonderful Life” but to see consequences play out not over days but decades is really rewarding to this fan. So if “Old Man Logan” keeps up and shows more of the bleak future I’ve come to love then maybe this can be salvaged.