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Mar 11

Deadpool vs Old Man Logan #1-5

Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

So here’s one that could easily slip under the radar – a five-issue Deadpool / Old Man Logan miniseries written by Declan Shalvey, with art by Mike Henderson.  Shalvey is better known as an artist, though he did write a graphic novel last year, Savage Town.  Still, this seems to be the first time he’s written a miniseries.  Henderson’s main claim to fame is the Image series Nailbiter, which wrapped up last year.

The recap page gives us the current status quo for both characters, but in fact this is evergreen.  Deadpool still feels the urge to help people, but is hugely annoying while doing so, while Logan could largely be regular Wolverine, despite all the mentions that he’s getting on in years.  Which is fine – it’s a mini off to the side somewhere and it has no need to yoke itself to continuity.

This is heavily focussed on the bickering of the two leads, so the story is suitably straightforward, beneath a bit of dripfeeding of exposition.  We join in progress with Logan trying to track down a mutant teleporter, Maddie, and recruit her to safety with the X-Men before a bunch of your typical bad guy paramilitary experimenters get their hands on her.  Deadpool stumbles upon all this, decides that he wants to help, and naturally just winds up making everything that bit more chaotic.

The selling point here is the art.  Sure, Shalvey being an artist, he provides plenty of visual material.  The basic gimmick is that Maddie can sense any object in the area and teleport it about, which makes for lots of neat moments of objects suddenly crashing in from left field, or vanishing from somebody’s hands, or materialising at insane scale.

But Henderson’s execution of all that is fantastic.  The series opens with a flash forward of Logan and Deadpool trying to escape as an assortment of outrageous things keep falling on them from above.  And it’s beautifully done, with a sense of calm in the backgrounds and a tremendous sense of motion with every new plummeting thing.  Henderson and Shalvey have the characters nailed, but there’s a really bold, clean, kinetic feel to these pages that makes the book more than worth a look on its own.  (A nicely understated colouring job by Lee Loughridge helps too.)

Henderson is a seriously good action artist – on the strength of this, Marvel should be desperate to get him onto a higher profile book.  The book has a parental advisory warning on it, which means that it can go to town on the violence – especially since both leads have healing powers, so that Logan can temporarily put a stop to Deadpool’s yattering by resorting to his claws.  But at the same time, it never feels as if it’s going for shock value; it’s just taking advantage of being able to show stuff rather than sidestep it.

As for the story… well, spoilers ahead.

The book is decently paced and well scripted, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing.  The basic idea is to set this up as the usual “heroes rescue an innocent from exploitative baddies” schtick, and to use the familiarity of the plot for misdirection, with Logan and Deadpool both seeming to take Maddie for granted, and spending more time butting heads than they do actually paying attention to her.  Once Logan concludes that Maddie is already on the road to being a dangerous maniac and he’s too late to stop it, he switches sides and decides to let the bad guys have her, so awful does she apparently become in the future.  (It’s a bit unclear whether he’s remembering her from his own timeline or just taking the baddies’ version of events at face value for some reason – which is one of the issues here.)

With hindsight, Maddie is indeed worryingly flippant and unconcerned about the violence in the book.  She seems to be toying with the rest of the cast by letting them batter themselves until she gets bored with them and moves on, while she plays the innocent and lets them all underestimate her.  But at the same time, Logan’s own rejection of her leads to her turning on him, before telling him and Deadpool to both leave her alone.  We’re left with an argument about whether Maddie was already a psychopathic killer in waiting, or whether Logan himself has pushed her that way.  Probably a bit of both.  It’s also kind of suggested that Deadpool’s urge to help her is a projection of his own cravings for redemption, though that seems a bit of a stretch based on the actual plot.  There’s an epilogue in which the book’s notional villain Hart has another go at recruiting her, and she simply kills him by teleporting chunks of his body out of him.  You can see why someone like that would be a bit of a worry to have running around.

But… the upshot is to have Maddie just out there, with no particular resolution beyond Logan and Deadpool both recognising that they’ve misjudged her in different ways.  She remains a bit of a cipher, despite an attempt to flesh her out in an origin flashback, and her story doesn’t feel resolved.  She doesn’t become a bad guy, she just wants to be left alone and decides to hand out in Idaho.

Of course, the point here is that the stars of the book fail because they’re too busy projecting their own images onto Maddie instead of paying proper attention to her, and failing means that she gets away from them both.  But leaving the central plot feeling like a loose thread doesn’t quite work.  It feels like it’s setting up for a sequel, which would be fine if it was an arc of an ongoing series, but reads oddly as the finale of a miniseries.

Still, this is a gorgeous book to look at, and a pretty fun read along the way.  Much better than I was expecting.

Bring on the comments

  1. Niall says:

    Maddie sounds wonderfully overpowered.

    I’d love to see her fight the likes of Thanos!

  2. Brendan says:

    Sold. Deadpool comics which are quality and funny are worth the price of admission.

  3. Paul says:

    Maddie IS overpowered, but then that’s the plot – that her unassuming appearance belies the implications of what she can actually do.

  4. Moo says:

    Her powers remind me of the Warpsmiths from Alan Moore’s Miracleman.

  5. Glen Newman says:

    Henderson takes over on Daredevil (issue 601 I think) and quite excited to see his work on that. DD should be a good fit for him given Paul’s comments about his art

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