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Sunday Slugfest: Wolverine #71

Posted: Sunday, March 22, 2009
By: Thom Young

Mark Millar
Steve McNiven (p), Dexter Vines (i), & Morry Hollowell with Paul Mounts (colors)
Marvel Comics
"Old Man Logan: Part 6"

Dave Wallace:

Paul Brian McCoy:

Stephen Joyce:

Dave Wallace:

Although it’s supposed to be a monthly, Wolverine has been coming out approximately every nine weeks following the release of issue #68 back in August. Luckily, the plot of Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan” is straightforward enough that it isn’t hard to get your bearings despite the extended wait between issues. This story has nominally revolved around Wolverine assisting Hawkeye by making a journey to deliver a mysterious package, but it’s really been an excuse for Millar and Steve McNiven to explore their vision of a dystopian America of the future in which the supervillains won.

Without McNiven’s artwork, this story simply wouldn’t be as effective, and his visuals are certainly a good enough reason to wait a little longer than usual for each issue rather than rushing it out with an inferior artist. McNiven’s work is growing more confident and distinctive as the arc goes on, and I’m enjoying seeing the illustrator step up to the challenge of matching Millar’s constant flow of imaginative ideas with equally invigorating visuals.

The inks by Dexter Vines are also a big part of the appeal of the artwork. His variation of line weights and attention to detail (do you think he gets bored inking all that stubble?) give the art a strong sense of form and texture. “Old Man Logan” is a great-looking story, and I’m already eagerly anticipating the release of the inevitable oversized hardcover edition.

Logan’s restrained characterisation continues to be an original and interesting one--giving the story a constant background of slowly-building tension that will be released if and when he eventually pops his claws. And this issue is certainly an important chapter of the larger story, with twists that change the direction of the plot significantly.

I’m more entertained by the incidental ideas that Millar is throwing out than by the core story itself--which is why “Old Man Logan” works pretty well as a bi-monthly comic as well as a larger arc. Each issue provides self-contained elements that are entertaining in their own right even if they’re not much more than dressing for the basic story.

In this latest issue we’re treated to an attack by a Venom-coated T-Rex, the Black Bolt of the future wheeled out for a logical and devastating attack, the disclosure of Emma Frost’s secret stronghold (and of her mysterious marriage to an un-revealed character), and the revelation of the nature of Hawkeye’s cargo.

I can’t deny that there’s a certain repetitiveness to one or two of the ideas (this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen our protagonists come across the giant, rotted body of a dead superhero or villain--and the scene with Doctor Doom feels very similar to the one that established the presence of the Venom symbiote in a previous issue). However, there are a lot more hits than there are misses.

In fact, I’m beginning to think that the future Marvel Universe portrayed in “Old Man Logan” is a fertile enough territory for ideas that it could even support an ongoing title. I guess we’ll see whether Marvel wants to exploit it any further after this story arc concludes.

Yet again, the issue ends on a surprising cliffhanger that makes me keen to read the next issue--even if it’s going to be another nine weeks before the next “monthly issue” is released. Still, I’m happy to enjoy these issues of “Old Man Logan” when they appear.

Paul Brian McCoy:

I honestly don't know what to make of this story from a critical perspective. I'm enjoying it, but don't really want to think about it too much. Mark Millar writes to his strengths, moving quickly from big action sequence to big action sequence, mining the Marvel Universe for more weird new incarnations of old ideas and characters than anything I've read since Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy.

Actually, now that I think of it, Marvel Boy is an excellent companion piece to this story. They aren't related by much more than ultra-violence and a fast and loose, frenetic willingness to re-imagine and recast any Marvel property from 1961 on. In both of these worlds, the best and brightest ideas and images are cherry-picked and re-worked into fresh and exciting new incarnations.

Additionally, both stories have fantastic art. For Marvel Boy it was JG Jones, and for "Old Man Logan" we are gifted with Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines. This book is gorgeous. The action is huge, the designs are post-apocalyptic classic, and the amount of detail is mind-boggling. Morry Hollowell and Paul Mounts's colors are a perfect complement to McNiven and Vines's work.

I've heard complaints about this story online, but really, none of them have stuck with me. This isn't brain surgery or a philosophical treatise. This is a completely mental, somewhat pessimistic, action epic. It's not deep, so don't scratch at it too vigorously.

Stephen Joyce:

The world that Mark Millar and Steve McNiven have made in “Old Man Logan” is very ambitious. When I first heard about it, I was very much against it--mainly because I’m not a huge fan of either creator. I agree that they can do good, if not great work, but neither one is going to make me go out and grab a book with his name on it. Yet after the first issue of the current story arc I was hooked on this idea and have been enjoying the ride ever since.

I love to see takes on the future of the Marvel Universe. There are just so many possibilities. I especially enjoy the grim and dark ones. This entire “Old Man Logan” story arc has been awesome. Mark Millar is having a lot of fun with the Marvel Universe and this future he has crafted.

Every issue offers up a new twist of revelation of this world, and this issue is no exception. My favorite part in this book is the time they spend with Emma Frost. My first thought was Wolverine’s thought as well, “How does she still look so young?” Of course it was explained in a way that made perfect sense. Based on the pacing of the series you can tell that it is time for this story to begin to wrap up, especially after this ending (which I did not expect, and I will not spoil).

McNiven’s art is still phenomenal for this story. I mean come on, he makes a Venom T-Rex look so cool. I’ve never been a real big fan of his art, but it works well for dark and dirty superhero stories. There is also something that seems so right about his aged characters. I don’t understand what it is, but I just really enjoy seeing his take on aged Marvel characters.

This story has been great and this issue continues that trend. I loved every minute of it, though it could have used more of the Venom T-Rex. I actually loved it so much that I didn’t realize I was at the end of the issue until I was actually there.

If you avoided this book because it’s about Wolverine you missed out on a great story. It’s not a classic Wolverine story, this is a bold take on an interesting future for the Marvel Universe that any Marvel fan should be reading.

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