It’s been three weeks since the commencement of the event to end all events. Secret Wars has promised to be the biggest event in Marvel comics history, and although the core titles have shown us exactly what a legendary comic event aspires to be, the tie-in comics have been less than inspiring. Marvel has been revisiting classic story lines from their 50+ year history, including “The Infinity Gauntlet” and more recently “Spider-Verse,” and have now set their eyes on one of Wolverine’s most iconic arcs, “Old Man Logan.”
Originally debuting as an eight issue miniseries showcasing a dystopian future wherein villains rule, heroes are all but extinct, and the Red Skull commands the U.S. with a bloody red fist, “Old Man Logan” was a colossal arc that instantly became a fan favorite. The combination of Mark Millar’s wonderful storytelling and Steve McNiven’s rich, insanely detailed art made this title shine in the late 2000s.
The “Secret Wars” iteration of “Old Man Logan” works as somewhat of a continuation of where the original story — Wolverine #72 — left off. Written by fan-favorite Brian Michael Bendis and newcomer artist Andrea Sorrentino, Old Man Logan #1 opens with a good old fashioned bloodbath, as only Wolverine can pull off. In Logan’s corner of Battleworld, the Wasteland, the Old West is alive and well.
A mysterious figure named Gladiator — who hides his face with an old Iron Man mask and commands a couple of goons in presumably stolen Daredevil costumes — are literally ripped apart by Wolverine in their hideout. The first double page spread of Wolverine shows him sinking his claws deep within the belly of Gladiator in one of the many, truly breathtaking art pieces in this issue. The combination of Sorrentino’s gritty penciling, and Marcelo Mailo’s use of deep reds and oranges, create an intense series of pages of Wolverine tearing this gang apart.
Bendis is at his best when he’s focusing on character and I’m glad to report that he’s at his best with Logan in this first issue. Bendis tosses Gladiator’s young son into the mix and in an act of revenge has him shoot Logan. Logan tries to tell the kid that he just did him a huge favor, but he can try to kill him in a few years if he still feels that way, sure its a scene right out of “Kill Bill” but Logan is at his best when he’s a ninja/samurai. Then Logan looks back at the kid with compassion in his eyes, perhaps reflecting on the murder of his own son and daughter at the hands of the murderous Hulk gang. It gives a glimmer of hope that even though Logan has let himself go back to his old savage ways, there’s still a piece of the beaten down, broken, and compassionate Logan inside that hardened shell.
It is great to see a writer that understands these characters find a way to project them into this seemingly inevitbale future in such an effortless way. In a later scene, after Wolverine witnesses a mysterious Ultron head fall out of the sky, Logan reunites with his former X-Man, Emma Frost, for a fitting final scene between the two long-time frenemies.
Old Man Logan #1 makes sure to include a lot of references to the original “Old Man Logan” series, such as the baby Hulk that Logan rescues after killing Banner, and the T-Rex infected with the Venom symbiote that almost killed Logan and Hawkeye. Logan is also working with a young woman named Dani, who is heavily implied to be the daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.
Although much of the art in this issue is beautiful to take in, a few of the panels seemed to have too much going on, which made it hard to make out the actual destruction that Logan was inflicting. In one two page spread in particular, the panels are lined up in skinny rectangles set against a black background, but by doing this, it made it very hard to follow the linear progression of the fight scene. I had to go back over the pages a few times to understand the action, and even then, I still felt lost because my eyes didn’t know where to look.
But on other pages — such as Logan walking through the desert, taking in the painted red rock landscape — the art shines through. The choice by Maiolo to use mostly shades of red and very dark shadows really gives the pages a Western pulp comic mixed with “Django Unchained” look.
Overall, this issue was pretty solid, and I’m eager to see where Bendis takes the story. So far, no references to the Spidey of this world, Ashley Barton, have been made. Fingers crossed she’ll pop up later in the series to help out Logan. Or maybe stab him in the back, as is her wont.