Comic History 101: Old Man Logan

You’ve probably seen by now that the next Wolverine film will have an R-rating. This in itself is pretty big news as it means that Jackman will be able to get down and dirty like his annual meal ticket has always been supposed to. However, if you have watched or read almost any online coverage of the story you will have probably found a lot of speculation that an R-rating means only one thing. Old Man Logan. The three words that brighten every Wolverine fan’s day. See back in 2008 Mark Millar dared to ask the question; what if Wolverine killed the X-Men?

Wasteland Hero


 

Unlike most of the stories covered in this segment, Old Man Logan didn’t start with a revolutionary attempt to mine the cultural zeitgeist, the origins of Old Man Logan storyline are much humbler. Mark Millar had a chance to work with Steve McNiven again, the duo had previously rocked the world with Civil War and so there Millar wanted to create another epic. Millar may be most well known as a writer but he is also capable of drawing and so after reading several early Wolverine books he sat down and developed an image of Old Man Logan. Loosely based on the Clint Eastwood character William Munny, Old Man Logan was a Verizon of Wolverine broken by the world around him. The character is forced to roam a Wild West populated by constant reminders of his failure. With this image Millar began to craft a world unlike anything that has graced the pages of Marvel comics before.

The Lost Generation


 

In Millar’s world Wolverine’s enhanced senses are deceived by a powered up Mysterio on a night when the villains of the world band together to overthrow the heroes. Mysterio tricks Wolverine into killing each and every one of the X-Men in a bloody massacre. That night, Logan gives up the mantel of Wolverine and simply becomes Logan, he starts a family and gives up his place in the world while the villains eradicate the heroes. In creating the world of Old Man Logan, Millar sought to look at the lineages of heroes we see how Captain America’s legacy has been warped by the Red Skull and that Spider-Man’s daughter has become a much darker version of her father. The first example of this is the hillbilly Hulk gang made up of Bruce Banner’s children. It’s worth noting that Hulk is the only ‘hero’ who manages to stick around in the villain’s world as Millar saw the character as much as a villain as a hero. Needless to say, with such an imaginative take on the character and the Marvel Universe, the fans were stunned.

Snikt!


 

 The initial run of Old Man Logan, taking place between issues 66 and 72 of the Wolverine series, saw an unprecedented level of sales for a Wolverine book. Each issue sold around 100,000 issues which placed it in the top five selling comics across late 2008 and 2009. Reviewers began to jump on the book, hoping for another Civil War, and found something surprising and refreshing. Four and five star reviews began to fly in quickly from almost every comic book site. General readership seem to support the book as well, with high ratings across metacritical sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. The main criticism of the book is that there is a lack of steaks due to it feeling more like a ‘what if’ storyline but there was also some suggestion that the book feels a little rushed at points. I have to agree that the storyline could have worked better slowed down across a few more issues but it’s understandable that Millar only had a certain amount of time to finish his arc.

The Legacy Of Logan


 

The legacy of Old Man Logan can be seen more in the way the fan community feel about the book than anything else. Parallel universe storylines had been done before in the Marvel Universe but this was one that managed to feel a little more visceral and a natural outcome for the character of Logan. The nature of book led to fans calling for a return to the character in the 2015 Marvel Secret Wars event. This has now led to the character of Old Man Logan being incorporated into the main Marvel Universe for good or for ill. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the final Wolverine film call back to this run as the story serves as a strong finale for the character. Next week I will be jumping back eighties and the roots of mainstream indy comics with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Friday for a brand new Covert Coot article!!!

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