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Dec 3

Old Man Logan #25-30: “Days of Anger”

Posted on Sunday, December 3, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Stories like “Days of Anger” come along every so often – stories which seem to be competent, properly paced, sensibly constructed, and generally solid, yet manage to fill six issues without ever appearing to be about anything in particular.  They always leave me with the nagging sense that I’m probably missing something, since there’s no denying that effort has gone into them.  But eventually I’m forced to concede defeat and conclude that the good-looking parts haven’t added up to anything.

This is the first arc for the new creative team of Ed Brisson and Mike Deodato.  Brisson’s not familiar to me, but he’s written some well-received indie books.  Deodato is the workhorse he always was; not always exciting but generally a sound storyteller, which is what we get here.  He’s from the school of artists who barely try to make Logan look old, but his heavy use of screentone certainly gives the book a distinctive feel.

Given that the original Wolverine is back in circulation following Marvel Legacy, taking over Old Man Logan feels like a thankless task – there’s a definite sense that we’re just counting down the months until the inevitable return of the real thing.  But in the meantime, “Days of Anger” starts off with what seem like sensible enough ideas.

In short, the plot has Logan stumbling upon the Hulk Gang, who’ve come back in time from the Wastelands and are now led by a version of the Maestro.  The Hulk Gang are in survivalist mode and have some weird plan to wipe out humanity with nukes so that they can live in peace.  Logan teams up with the Hawkeye (the Clint Barton version) and a defector Hulk, Cambria, to stop them.  That’s pretty much it.

But there are a bunch of parallels in here that feel like they ought to be good story material.  Bringing another villain from the Wastelands timeline is obvious, but it’s not been done before.  There’s a subplot in parallel flashbacks which builds up to show how the Hulk Gang ended up travelling back in time.  The title might lead you to expect a story playing off the fact that both Logan and Bruce Banner were, at one point, anger-driven characters.  But that doesn’t really happen.  Adding Maestro, in theory, gives you an older Logan against an older Banner.  Not much comes of that either.  And you’ve got the present day Hawkeye, whose counterpart was Logan’s best friend in the Wastelands.  That does get some play, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.

The Hulk Gang are tricky villains to take seriously, since Mark Millar characteristically wrote them as over the top hillbilly stereotypes.  For the purposes of Millar’s story, they needed to be powerful enough to justifying them throwing their weight around with Logan, but otherwise they could simply be a debased version of an iconic character.  This story mostly pays lip service to the idea that they’re Hulks; Logan can kill them without apparent difficulty.  In itself, that’s fine; the story is also happy to run with the idea that they’re watered-down Hulks, which seems to be a point that’s increasingly exasperating the Maestro himself.

The problem here, I think, is that the plot just doesn’t make enough sense for it to have any weight.  The basic idea seems to be that Maestro does indeed want to fire off a bunch of nukes and cause mass destruction, but is also confidently expecting his D-list Hulk knock-offs to perish in the process.  So the big baddie is exploiting the dumb, lower-level baddies for his own aim.  Okay.

But Maestro’s plan makes no real sense, either in the form in which he explains it to the Hulk Gang, or in the terms of what he’s actually planning.  We’re repeatedly told that Maestro has offered them some sort of false hope of leading them to a utopia, and then tried to convince them that the humans will keep coming for them unless they launch a pre-emptive strike.  He’s also told them that the nukes will make them more powerful, because of handwaving gamma ray stuff, which I guess makes enough sense for the Gang to buy into.

Still… I can buy that even the Hulk Gang weren’t especially happy in the Wastelands, even though they were in charge of their patch of territory.  But at least that was a habitable world where they had some sort of power.  Maestro’s plan is to take them to another version of Earth and wipe out the human race in a nuclear holocaust?  How is that supposed to seem more attractive than what they left behind?  What was so bad about the Wastelands, if it wasn’t the post-apocalyptic thing?  This makes no sense from the Hulk Gang’s point of view, so the idea of Maestro manipulating them feels flat.  Sure, they’re dim, but they’re not set up as being that dim.

And what is the Maestro’s plan, anyway?  Is he just trying to get the Hulk Gang killed because they’re annoying sub-standard Hulks?  Surely he didn’t bring them all this way just for that.  But is he really trying to wipe out the human race and live here on his own?  Why?  And are ten or twelve nukes really going to do that job anyway?  Maestro seems to be set up as a recurring villain – which, again, makes some sense as a distorted older version of another A-list character – but if the idea is that we’ll get a clearer explanation of his goals in due course, that’s not enough to give weight to this six-issue arc in the meantime.

There are tons of parallels and callbacks here that ought to work; the material is there to build a story.  And I’m sure Brisson had a point in mind, but it doesn’t seem to get through.

Bring on the comments

  1. ASV says:

    This story reminded me of the type of six-issue arc that was rampant in the early part of the Collect Everything era — a shallowly decompressed version of a story that would’ve taken two issues in the 80s or 90s, with at least 10% of the pages given over to other subplots.

  2. Michael says:

    The Maestro feels like another one of those villains who’s increasingly devalued the more often he shows up. Play him right, and he’s a scary-powerful, supersmart force of destruction, and a cautionary tale for the real Hulk. An “end of the line” scenario, as it were.

    But every time he shows up and is defeated, it makes him less scary and less impactful. Especially since we just had a halfway decent Maestro story in Contest of Champions.

  3. Person of Con says:

    With the best will in the world to Peter David, who did do some interesting things with the character, Maestro frequently feels like “what if we did the same thing as Adam Warlock, but with a more popular character?”

  4. Joseph says:

    This arc was so painful to read. Even Weapon H is marginally better than this. I can understand why one might want to bring the Hulk Gang to the present, but mixing the Maestro in was just one ingredient too many. And the sad imitation of Sorrentino layouts isn’t really doing the art any favors. Brisson’s Scarlet Samurai arc seems likely to be a bit better, but I won’t hold my breath.

  5. Si says:

    Old Man Logan fighting Old Man Banner, all I can think of is the fight scene in the movie Up.

  6. Brian says:

    …if only Peter Parker from REIGN could have joined them and this all happened before Steve Rogers was de-aged by the Cosmic Cube!

  7. wwk5d says:

    Why, we might have been spared Secret Empire…

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