Thursday, September 24, 2009

Giant-Size Wolverine: Old Man Logan #1 Review

It's been a while since I last did one of these image based reviews, so I thought, what with how pretty Steve McNiven's art is, this would be a perfect issue to spotlight.  While delays have killed a lot of momentum this storyline had built, I still found myself wanting to read this issue first (I'm a best first kinda guy when it comes to the pull list reading every Wednesday) this week and, while I the tone of this review may come off a bit negative (the negativity is mostly in regards to the Old Man Logan story as a whole and pricing of this issue more than towards this great single issue), I don't think anyone will walk away disappointed with this purchase.  It's been a long time coming, but how was the conclusion to Old Man Logan?  Hit the jump to find out.

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Steve McNiven

The Story So Far: Set in Mark Millar's alternate universe, fashioned after the events of 1985 and in a world where the 'villain's won', Wolverine is one of the few surviving heroes left in the world, but only due to the fact he retired after the traumatic events that led to the villains' current dominance.

Finding some semblence of a life in this world, Logan, who no longer goes by the name of Wolverine nor pops his claws for any reason, has settled down with a woman, has several children and is living out his days on a farm in what has become the Hulk's territory.

Needing money for rent, else the inbred Hulk clan will kill his family, Logan was approached by a blind Hawkeye, who requests his aid in delivering a package to the other side of America.  Logan agrees and they proceed on their journey, showing us the changes a world ruled by villains would have on America.

At the end of their journey, Hawkeye is betrayed and killed by the people he was supposed to deliver the package to, Logan ends his pacifist ways and takes out Hawkeye's killers before rushes home to his family, who he finds slaughtered and left for him to find by the Hulk clan, who decided to collect the rent early while he was away.  The act pushes Logan over the edge and he pops his claws for the first time in years.

"Tastes like radioactive gamma chicken."

Which Brings Us to the Conclusion: I'm going to deal with the actual content of this conclusion before getting into the much bigger problem that was the lack of content in this $4.99 issue.  As a concluding chapter to this alternate timeline, I believe Mark Millar and Steve McNiven hit all the right notes.  It's bloody, it's brutal and it's everything people were waiting for ever since they first heard the Unforgiven-like, non-claw popping Wolverine premise of this storyline. I haven't confirmed, but I'm pretty sure, save the final bits in the epilogue, Wolverine has his claws popped the entire issue, which is a bad thing for everyone that gets in his way.

You walk out of a bar and see this and you just know you're screwed.

However, giving people what they want shouldn't be the end goal of a story.  It's called pandering for a reason and, while I love many aspects of this issue, it amounts to little more than a 30-page fight with a couple pages of downtime and epilogues.  I'm also taking this from the perspective of a lengthy storyline who's only purpose was to give us a handful of issues as build up to Wolverine cutting loose.  With how pointless the Hawkeye trip ended up being, in the grand scheme of things, this entire Old Man Logan story could have been condensed into one 48-page one-shot and accomplished the exact same thing - showing us a Hulk vs Wolverine fight drawn by Steve McNiven.

Along with Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine and that rejected 'kissing cousins' Frank Cho cover, it looks like Hulk and She-Hulk have been hooking up a lot lately.  Possible origin of Red She-Hulk? 

How is this issue if we judge this issue on its own, seperate from the rest of Old Man Logan?  This is quite possibly the best single issue this year.  It's everything you want from a Mark Millar and Steve McNiven comic - it's an event spectacle, has a constant stream of big moments that will have you talking and flipping through the book over and over again and is damn pretty to look at.  Looking at this as the conclusion to a year long storyline?  It's rather weak and feels completely disconnected from the previous tone and direction of the book.  I still can't really see how any of the Hawkeye trip relates back to this Hulk clan.  We spent all that time meeting people, building towards a showdown and the mystery package and it all just petered out into a senseless brawl with a character that hadn't appeared in the entirety of the arc. 


On the artistic side of things, Millar obviously plays to McNiven's strengths in this issue.  It's clearly a showcase for his art as the book is made up of lots of money shots for him to draw, from splashpages and a constant stream of "Oh $#!%!" moments to the absolutely absurd and deliciously sadistic (Just look at what Wolverine did to the cow above!).  It's pure spectacle and Millar lets McNiven do all the heavy lifting for the story, which amounted to little more than a bloodbath, but, to be honest, it's exactly what a writer should do with a talent like McNiven - his art can tell a story in and of itself and there's not much point cluttering it up or slowing him down with pointless exposition.  Even the ending, which was a mix of Lone Wolf & Cub & Shane with Logan and the last Hulk baby riding off into the sunset, Millar wisely doesn't bombard us with talking heads. 

Looks like Wolverine takes Bruce Banner Jr on a Lone Wolf and Club adventure that eventually leads to the Fantastic Force team last seen in Millar's Fantastic Four run.

Getting back to my lack of content statement at the start of this review, my biggest problem with this "giant-size" Wolverine: Old Man Logan special is that it isn't nearly as giant-sized as the title would imply.  Sure, this clocks in at rather large page count (I believe it's 66 pages before ads), but roughly half of that is dedicated to a cover gallery and some sketches.  The actual content of the issue amounts to 32 pages, give or take.  Yes, this is a $4.99 comic with covers of issues you already own and only 10 extra pages of content.  That's a tough pill to swallow and one Marvel knew people would be willing to pay to get the conclusion to this much talked about story.  Talk about gouging your readers.  This is almost as bad as that 15-page Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes issue that was $3.99.  Bad form, Marvel, bad form.

Verdict - Must Read.  I know my review of this was pretty harsh in tone, but I can't deny I was smiling most of the issue as I enjoyed the fanboy pandering spectacle that was the concluding chapter to this event.  However, as someone that owns the entirety of the Old Man Logan story, I'm disappointed that I could have bought this one issue and enjoyed the story just as much. It was like the rest of the story didn't matter and added nothing to this story.  You know the premise and you didn't really need to know the rest of the details to understand why Wolverine is doing the whole Wolverine thing and fighting the Hulk.  You just need to sit back and enjoy the ride.  There's also the whole $4.99 for 32-pages of content souring my view on this. On the whole, this single issue, taken on its own, is a Must Read.  If this was a review of the entire Old Man Logan story, I'd say buy this one issue and avoid the rest. 

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brandon said...

There is a massive hole in the plot. Wolverine put his claws away because he was meant to think he was killing bad guys when they were really X-Men.

Who's to say his family was really dead (in his eyes)? How does he really know for sure that the Hulks he is killing are really Hulks?

If he really wanted to snap because of the dead bodies then wouldnt he have never stopped fighting after finding out he killed all of the X-Men?

Millar fubared this story. He managed to take the horrific reasons behind Logan ending his Wolverine persona and flushing them down the toilet. In the end Wolverine shows up for the same reason he STOPPED being Wolverine in the first place.

Bad story. Cool fight. This should have been a one shot all along. Who knew?

smkedtky said...

I have to agree that the price tag took away from my enjoyment. Not only were those pinups of issues that I already bought (and therefore examples of art I already own), but one of them was the cover for THAT ISSUE. I didn't feel quite as ripped off as I did with the mentioned "Ghost Boxes" issues but it was close.

I think the whole Hawkeye/cross country thing was more to illustrate 1)the state of things in this new interconnected Marvel Millarverse and 2) that no matter what was thrown at him (Venom dinosaur/bad superhero children/carnivorous Moloids/the Red Skull), that the Wolverine we once knew was gone. I didn't like it as much as "1985" (it was close) but, in the end, "Old Man Logan" didn't disappoint (wish I could say the same for Millar's "Fantastic Four" the way, ironically, FF is better undedr Hickman/Eaglesham than its been since Walter Simonson. Maybe Better.).

Anonymous said...


Logan kept his claws sheathed because it was those that killed the X-men, something that he was afraid of. What I took out of the cross country trip was that it gave Logan a chance to see what his actions and inaction helped cause. With his confrontation with the Red Skull, he began to re-embrace the side he left at the mansion beneath the bodies of his friends.

While it was cliche, seeing his family killed by his inability to face the Hulks was enough to show him that he needed to become Wolverine again. This time, Mysterio is out of the way and the Hulks are nothing more than simple brutes.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I think this storyline was just Millar saying, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if..." again and again. And some of it was cool, the Thor hammer still on the ground, stuff like that is cool, but he seems to forget cool moments are cool, but you need a story to wrap around them. I don't think he's done that. It all doesn't mean much except an excuse to have a tour through Millar's future Wouldn'titbecoolverse.
I was considering the trade, but I just really don't think so, what a shame.

jason quinones said...

kirk- your review of old man logan is spot on and reflects EXACTLY how i felt reading,semi following this particular story arc.(i followed it mostly by flipping through it in the comic shops) reflecting a different universe, this should have been it's own limited series. but that's nitpicking.

with all the delays and millar's portrayal of wolverine as a sort of invulnerable god (which is kind of annoying and is EXTREMELY evident in the way logan defeats banner, which is admittedly cool because it's so batshit insane!!!!!)i didn't bother buying all the issues after the first few.

i did buy the last issue because as someone who didn't buy all the issues, the covers and sketch pages made it worth the cover price. and like you said, the art is gorgeous. it's the writing that got stale.

the trip served no purpose other than to illustrate the state of the world, which could have been done in a few pages, not issues.

millar seems to just enjoy taking classic heroes and villanizing them and or killing them as brutally as posssible. or having wolverine kill them as brutally as possible. logan popping the claws over the death of his family was an all too easy cop out which i think everyone saw coming a mile away.

one of the best parts of the story for me was the last few pages. an understated, quiet ending (beautifully illustrated!!!) which shows that millar can be a better writer if he wasn't so obssessed with blood and guts fuled violence. (not that that's terrible, it certainly has it's place in a wolverine story but it would've been intersting to see if logan could have defetaed the hulks without popping the claws. that would've been something.

brandon said...


I'm with you that Wolverine learned on the trip to be "himself". And it all would have worked if Wolverine could be sure he wasnt killing something other than what his eyes were telling him he was seeing.

What I needed was some level of Logan being convinced that Mysterio (or any other force like him) isn't making him hallucinate and we just dont have that here.

Anonymous said...

POTENTIAL SPOILER: if I swallowed Wolverine, I'd be really concerned about an adamantium skeleton (with claws, no less) passing through my system. Worst. Dump. Ever.

Bill said...

I was a little turned off by all the Hulk-sex jokes. I know it's Millar, and I should expect attempts to shock me, and it was hugely bloody and clearly not for kids, but there's something about it that really bugged me. Like... when he did the incest stuff in the Ultimates, it was at least semi-subtle, then Loeb ruined it by going "HEY HE'S BANGING HIS SISTER ISN'T THAT HILARIOUS?" And now Millar turns around and does the same thing.

Kraken said...

"It's everything you want from a Mark Millar and Steve McNiven comic"

Due to a mix-up at the printers, it instead features Evan Dorkin's Milk & Cheese?

Anonymous said...

I really wanted to like this issue. I really, truly did. And I liked the first two thirds of it. But what really took me out of it was 'old man Banner'. I had guessed that the original Hulk would appear in some form or another, but it felt super rushed and there wasn't any sort of explanation as to how he was so strong in his human form. I wasn't looking for a huge long winded explanation, just...something. Anything. Not just 'oh look, radiation made me kooky so now I'm effing my cousin and can punch through walls in my ordinary body' Everything else was cake though, so good job Marvel for making everyone want to buy this book despite it being 5 dollars...

Somnopolis said...

I was thinking of buying the trade myself. The McNiven art is beautiful and it's fun to play 'what if', with Marvel future timelines.

OTOH I like a decent story and this just seems derivative. Reckon I'd be better off with a 2000AD anthology.

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