Stephen's Reviews > Wolverine: Old Man Logan

Wolverine by Mark Millar
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Apr 07, 12

bookshelves: 2006-2010, comics-graphic-novels, alternative-history, world-in-the-shitter
Read from April 05 to 07, 2012 — I own a copy

Fifty years ago, the super villains got their act together, teamed up, and wiped out the supes. Today, the U.S. is balkanized and California is run by the Hulk** and his brood of inbred, trailer park hillbillies.
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**California used to be the Abomination's territory but...yeah, Hulk SMASHED him. 

Living with the Beverly HULKbillies is a pacifist farmer named Logan, who hasn't snikt his claws or said "Hey Bub" since the night the heroes died.  Something horrible happened to Logan that night, something that killed the person he was...
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Of course, for marketing purposes, we need the cover art to show that Logan can still be "The Man," so here you go. 
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So basically, Logan lives with his wife and kids under the green trash Hulks. Life is hard, the farm is struggling, and Logan's family is short on the monthly rent. The Hulks don't do well with disappointment. After getting his but kicked (because he won't fight back), the Hulks give him one month to make good or they are going to kill and eat his family...

oh yeah, forgot to mention, the Hulks are cannibals too. Tobe Hooper would be proud. 

To get the money he needs, Logan reluctantly agrees to chauffeur the now blind Hawkeye across the country to deliver a mysterious package. They will have to travel through the strongholds of the villainous victors from 50 years ago, including: the Kingdom of the Kingpin (fka the Domain of Magneto), Doom's Lair and The President's Quarter.

Each place more dangerous than the one before.

...and so on.

 This was good...not great, but good. 

Mark Millar, ever since he penned the Ultimates, has established himself as the undisputed king of the "what if" re-imagining within the Marvel Universe. And deservedly so. He's a good writer and his willingness to push the envelope and show established, beloved characters in a radical new light has served him well and provided this fanboy with much about which to smile.

Millar's also not shy about bloodying things up a bit, and he certainly turns the release valve up to exsanguinate on this one. For the most part this works (except for the very end, discussed below). There's also a gritty, nihilistic vibe that Millar brings to this post-apocalyptic setting that works. You do have to turn off certain questioning quadrants of your brain to make it work, but it is still a lot of fun. 

So why only 3 stars? A combo of some things things that irked me and just a "not quite good enough" feeling that out the rating brakes on when I got to a strong 3. Still, that does indicate that I liked it (and recommend you read it), so here are things some things I really liked: 

Venomsaurus Rex...
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...awesome sauce...Nuff said. 

Hawkeye

The character of Hawkeye was great. A blind, burned out, thrice-married wild card with Dirty Harry grit and a Willie Nelson ponytail. Well done, Mr. Millar. 

Logan and Logan's Dark Secret

Millar's take on Logan was engaging. In some ways, it paralleled Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven as you have a violent man turned family man who needs money, and so he returns to his old life, and ends up falling hard off the violence wagon.

However, what really makes this work is the revelation of "what happened" to Wolverine on that night 50 years ago. This was fantastic. When this is revealed, it will shock. 

I wasn't expecting it and I thought it was exceptionally well crafted. 

Red Skull's Victory

This is hard to admit because I'm a big fan of Cap, but the best part of the story is the flashback to Red Skull's final triumph over Steve Rogers. Against the background of the Capital Building in flames, a battered, trapped Captain America is first subjected to the gloating-laced victory taunts of his oldest nemesis
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...and eventually, unlike what would normally happen after such a monologue, the Skull proceeds with his final, terminal victory. 

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Icing on the cake for this remarkable segment of the story is the Red Skull, dressed in the skin of Cap (i.e. his costume), standing and staring admiringly at his trophy case of fallen heroes. 
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This segment alone is worth picking up this graphic novel. 
 
For all that I liked about this story, I did have a few problems with it as well. First on the list of gripes was the Hulk being portrayed as an extra from Deliverance. As a plot device, I just thought it was hokey and it bugged me.  Also, the last chapter when Logan confronts the Hulks degrades into an over-the-top gore festival that just seemed pointless and tacked on. It really contrasted from the rest of the story and I found it jarring. I understand the need to get Wolverine back to doing what he does best...but still. 

I also thought the Kingpin segment was weak and the almost complete absence of Doom was a wasted opportunity. 

Still, overall this is a solid 3 stars and is worth checking out. The art is excellent and Millar delivers a good story in the area in which he writes at his best. While not the truly ground-breaking story lines of current favorites Ed Brubaker and Garth Ennis, this is a cut above standard fare when it comes to writing. Add to that some real quality moments, and you have a solid, entertaining effort that just has some flaws that keep me from darkening that 4th star. 

3.0 stars. Recommended. 
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by B0nnie (new) - added it

B0nnie the art does look excellent


message 2: by Richard Reviles Censorship (last edited Apr 07, 2012 08:47AM) (new)

Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways **California used to be the Abomination's territory could, for all of me, be **California is the Abomination, as it contains almost all of my least favorite people.

Well, that's me on the subject at hand. I have no cogent, intelligent, or useful thing to say. The venomsaurus is a major creep-out! Why does it have worms hanging off it from all its bits? *shudder*


message 3: by Tamahome (last edited Apr 07, 2012 06:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tamahome Mark Millar is one of my favorite comic book writers. But you're right I don't go in for the mondo violent stuff. The art by Steve McNiven is great. Fix the credits Goodreads Librarian.


Stephen B0nnie wrote: "the art does look excellent"

It is very good, Bonnie. Definitely a positive for this volume.


Stephen Richard wrote: "The venomsaurus is a major creep-out! Why does it have worms hanging off it from all its bits? *shudder*."

Those wormy strands are part of the venom symbiote. Probably doesn't tell you a whole lot since you are not a comic book guy, but a quick jaunt to Wikipedia searching for venom symbiote should answer all of your questions. You know you have questions...yes you do...go on and look it up...aren't you even a little bit curious.


Stephen Tamahome wrote: "Mark Millar is one of my favorite comic book writers. But you're right I don't go in for the mondo violent stuff. The art by Steve Niven is great. Fix the credits Goodreads Librarian."

I agree, Tamahome, the art is terrific.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Stephen wrote: "Those wormy strands are part of the venom symbiote. Probably doesn't tell you a whole lot since you are not a comic book guy, but a quick jaunt to Wikipedia searching for venom symbiote should answer all of your questions. You know you have questions...yes you do...go on and look it up...aren't you even a little bit curious."

"This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. Please help rewrite it to explain the fiction more clearly and provide non-fictional perspective."

I could NOT agree with Wikipedia's challenge assessment more. I have looked; I have read; I know no more now than I did before. It's a symbiote. EW. Blurgh.


Anne I loved this, but I agree with your review, Stephen. Billy-Bob Hulk was waaaay over the top. I wish that whole plot line was written differently.


Stephen Thanks, Anne. I thought the Hulk-neck angle started out well. That first meeting at the beginning had me chuckling. It just went too far for me and the end didn't work for me. I loved the Red Skull angle and the revelation of what happened to Wolvie. That was good stuff.


message 10: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne It did start out well, but you're right about it going too far. I think Millar is really good with this kind of story, but I think he could have left out some of the nastier stuff. It's been a while since I read this one, but wasn't there some sort of an incestuous undertone to the whole Hulk family?


Stephen Yes on the incest. Hulk mated with She Hulk (first cousin) and it is strongly implied that he has been fathering babies with the offspring ever since.


Tamahome Mark Millar's stint on The Authority, Vol. 2: Under New Management was particularly 'edgy'.


message 13: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Stephen wrote: "Yes on the incest. Hulk mated with She Hulk (first cousin) and it is strongly implied that he has been fathering babies with the offspring ever since."

That's what it was. Ewwww.
Yeah, I could have done without that whole story line.


message 14: by Contrarius (new)

Contrarius An irrelevant note on the "incest" thing -- did you know that it is legal to marry your first cousin in most other countries, and even in most US states? For some reason the US has a cultural prejudice against it, but for the most part there is no legal barrier. I looked that up last year thanks to a Dick Francis book, of all things....


message 15: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne You know, I've wondered about the whole 'cousin thing' for a while now. When you read books like Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice it really throws it in your face. Not only was it not considered icky, it seemed to be the preferred choice. I don't think of cousins marrying to be truly incestuous...just kind of weird. Especially considering all the other dating options out there.


message 16: by Contrarius (new)

Contrarius In case anyone wonders about their own state, here's the breakdown by state --

http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/h...


message 17: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Ha! That's a very informative website.
*shudder*
Maybe I'm not a ok with it as I thought. I can't imagine my grand-kids marrying each other. Blech.


Brandon This sounds awesome! Great review, sir. Gotta pick this up.


message 19: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph So...what happened to Wolverine 50 years ago?


Stephen MrsJoseph wrote: "So...what happened to Wolverine 50 years ago?"

This...(view spoiler)


Ronyell Awesome review Stephen!! I really enjoyed this book myself!


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