*Membership spots not really limited!
by Eli Katz
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Steve McNiven
Last month, with Wolverine #66, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven produced the closest thing I've read to a perfect comic book. Their first issue of "Old Man Logan" gave us a post-apocalyptic world where we see Wolverine as a pig farmer, the Hulk family as hillbillies, and the U.S. map as a super-villain paradise. Talk about a mad, mad, mad, mad world. My only concern, after reading this issue, was that it would be damn near impossible for Millar to maintain this outrageous momentum for all eight chapters.
Well, if Wolverine #67 is any indication, I've got nothing to worry about. This latest issue of "Old Man Logan" is as fun and imaginative as the first.
Part 2 continues where Part 1 left off. Desperate for cash, Wolverine and Hawkeye haul a package of contraband — probably drugs — across America in a beat-up, old Spidey-mobile. Before they can exit Hulkland and enter the Kingpin's domain, they must first battle a gang of Ghost Riders that makes the Hell's Angels look like girl scouts. The action is spectacular, the violence is appropriately graphic, and it's just awesome to see a blind Hawkeye work his bow.
After a narrow escape and a long, sweltering drive, Hawkeye and Logan find themselves in what was once Las Vegas — now a town of desperate residents who worship Thor's hammer and pray for the return of the superheroes. McNiven's illustrations are strongest and most detailed in this part of the book. In just a few small panels, he makes the Vegas Strip look like a Mogadishu flea market. His heavy use of crosshatching makes everything look particularly ragged and broken down.
It's also at this point in the book that Millar gives us some, but not all, the details of how the bad guys took control of America. We learn that "Thor and Cap and Tony Stark — they all got targeted and taken down inside the first few hours." We also learn that the bad guys didn't bother with Hawkeye because, as he admits, "They thought I was some kinda joke."
Wolverine's story is much more disturbing. It's suggested that he was tortured to the point of total mental collapse, and now lacks the will to fight. Obviously the question is: Will he get his balls back? Will he stand up finally against the forces of evil?
Without spoiling too much of the plot, Millar seems to be giving us yet another version of that overused Hollywood story — the old tough guy who just wants to be left alone, but is forced out of retirement for one last fight. Both Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood enjoyed solid careers doing this story over and over again. Just think of the many Death Wish sequels, The Evil That Men Do, The Eiger Sanction, Firefox, and Unforgiven, to name a few.
Yet, as familiar as this storyline is, Millar and McNiven add so many new twists to their version that they transcend the conventions. "Old Man Logan" isn't just another old-tough-guy story, just as it isn't simply another iteration of Mad Max or Road Warrior. It's a madcap combination of all these elements — plus a good dose of Saturday morning cartoon fun.
In lesser hands, "Old Man Logan" would be a terrible mess, overburdened by too many cool but unconnected ideas. Somehow, though, Millar and McNiven manage to blend all these elements together in a way that works. They honor all the clichés, but they innovate them too, and in the end they produce a futuristic world that's so much more interesting than the regular Marvel Universe.
So far, "Old Man Logan" is easily the best arc I've read all year — especially with McNiven's crisp art bringing the story to life. But more than that, "Old Man Logan" is a testament to what superhero comics can be: rule-smashing, genre-bending joy rides that take us into unknown territory.
I can't wait for Part 3.
Posted originally: 2008-07-31 11:25:47