Posted on Tuesday, January 3, 2017
by Paul in x-axis
So it turns out Old Man Logan isn’t cancelled after all, despite Marvel soliciting issue #18 as “The Epic Conclusion!”, which normally at least means a season break. At least that explains why two issues were given over to this – it might come from the pen of regular writer Jeff Lemire, but it’s got filler written all over it.
A standard set-up for this book is to bring the future Logan into contact with the original supporting cast. And that’s sort of how this one starts off, as Logan investigates the disappearance of Jubilee. Somehow or other the X-Men already know she was last seen in Romania, so Logan goes there and promptly crosses paths with…
… STAKE. That’s the team from the last version of Howling Commandos of SHIELD, the one full of monster characters. Now, that’s a book which lasted a handful of issues and got cancelled a while back. So it’s not like a STAKE guest shot is a big crowd pleaser. At any rate, after the usual token misunderstanding, the plot turns out to be that Dracula is summoning all vampires to Transylvania with mind control, so that he can build an army. Logan is after Jubilee, and STAKE are looking for their teammate Vampire By Night. Dracula uses Jubilee to sucker Logan in so that he can try and turn him into a vampire.
And then they just kind of fight for the second issue and everyone goes home. Really, that’s pretty much it. I mean, there’s the usual beats about Logan trying to get through to Jubilee to get her to break the mind control. And Dracula gets to announce his big plan, but it’s nothing more elaborate than “we’re going to bite everyone and then everyone will be a vampire and that’ll be great”. And the good guys win and the bad guy loses and The End.
This is weak. Jubilee spends most of the story being mind controlled, so we never really get a proper reunion until the epilogue in the last two pages. And those two pages are nice enough, but it means their history together never really plays into the story. As for STAKE… well, I guess Lemire is in the camp that finds the concept endearingly goofy, and I guess it is in a way. Actually, he’s got some amusing bickering going on within the group that shows how it could have worked as an ongoing. And the giant Orrgo showing up to save the day by lifting the roof off the castle while grumbling about the paperwork can’t help but raise a smile.
Still, they don’t contribute much to the story beyond the novelty of being there at all. And the concept isn’t that funny that it can carry a two issue story just by turning up.
The main thing that sticks in the mind here is Filipe Andrade’s art. It’s stark, angular stuff, heavy on the exaggeration, cartooning and shadow. It’s quite a difference from the more finicky layouts that regular artist Andrea Sorrentino tends to favour, and it’s got a welcome energy. That said, it’s actually at its best in the opening pages before the plot gets under way; once the fighting breaks out, it becomes much more patchy – there’s some nice emoting but also some histrionic confusion. Parts of issue #15 look rushed, though there are other bits where the gothic castle is very effectively done. And he does nail Orrgo’s big entrance. I can see why someone thought he was a good match for a Howling Commandos story, since they’re a pretty ludicrous idea that lends itself to over the top, tongue in cheek dramatics. It doesn’t always land here, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of his art.
It’s a weirdly throwaway story for this book, and strangely out of kilter with the usual tone. I wonder if it started life as a possible annual before being reassigned to the regular series. At any rate, it’s disappointingly slight – the basics are there but there’s not much flesh on the bones.