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Apr 17

Old Man Logan #36-38: “Moving Target”

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

With Wolverine Classic on his way back imminently, Old Man Logan seems to be marking time.  You might have expected it to be building to some sort of conclusion, but instead it seems to be settling into a run of relatively normal Wolverine-style stories.  That’s probably not ideal in the bigger picture – what’s the big deal of Wolverine returning if we’ve got Wolverine stories right here? – but at least it results in a comic which is perfectly okay on its own terms.

In search of a Marvel Universe hook that can somehow link back to Logan’s back story, Ed Brisson and Dalibor Talajić’s story settles on the Kingpin’s election as mayor of New York.  This actually seems more like a story that X-Men Gold should be doing, since that’s the book about the X-Men squatting in Central Park and having to deal with the local authorities.  It’s a bit more tenuous in Old Man Logan, which makes a token effort by suggesting that maybe this is how the villain takeover starts in our timeline, and then largely not pondering it again.  There’s also quite a bit about New Yorkers’ newfound antagonism towards superheroes in general, but that’s hardly new territory for the X-books.

Logan is approached by a man called Nicky, who claims to have information that could ruin the Kingpin.  It’s on an encrypted USB stick and he doesn’t know what it is, but the Kingpin’s really agitated about it, so it must be important.  First Kingpin’s regular henchmen try to recover it, and then Bullseye has a go.  Meanwhile, Logan hooks up with Sarah Dewey, who you may (but probably don’t) remember from last year’s Matthew Rosenberg / Ben Torres Kingpin series.  She was a talented but struggling writer who agreed to be Kingpin’s biographer, and it was a story about her rebuilding her life with his support while realising that she was selling her soul in the process.  It was quite a good series, and I had no particular expectations of ever seeing her again.

But once things are up and running, it’s basically a couple of issues of Logan and Sarah fighting with Bullseye over a macguffin.  That’s not a bad thing; Bullseye is a pretty good villain for Logan, since he’s about the right power level, and completely bonkers.  If anything, the current take on Bullseye does beg the question of why anyone in their right mind would hire him for a job which is supposed to be undertaken stealthily, since he seems to be way too much of a self-indulgent loose cannon.  But Logan plays well against agents of chaos, and Bullseye’s gimmick – casual sadism through the inventively precise abuse of absurdly mundane objects like bottle tops and toothpicks – is a good fit too.

Some of this may not make a great deal of sense unless you’ve read Kingpin – Fisk doesn’t want Sarah hurt, while Sarah’s motivations for helping to bring him down largely come from that book.  But I guess it’s sketched in adequately for the plot to work.  As for the encrypted USB stick, the story does seem to have odd ideas that encryption is easily reversed in a matter of seconds by taking it to a “hacktivist”, which makes me wonder how Ed Brisson feels about online banking.  I know superhero stories get a lot of leeway on this stuff, but I can’t help feeling this is getting into the territory of being so glaringly wrong that it won’t fly in 2018.

The art has some nice use of shadow and camera angles, and the occasional creative layout.  Page 15 of issue #36 is lovely, with the off-kilter camera and panel borders played against the tilted shop shelves for a beautifully woozy effect as an injured Logan staggers to a pharamceutical counter.  I’m not quite so sure about Talajić’s Kingpin, which is fine, but not as intimidating as you might expect; the exaggeration of the Kingpin’s brick-wall character design doesn’t seem to fit with Talajić’s’s style quite so comfortably.

The running theme here seems to be that Logan (and Sarah) are trying to liberate from Kingpin’s influence a public who are actually very happy to have him there.  The macguffin is ultimately meaningless; the public already know he’s a bad guy and they voted for him anyway.  The stick just contains some personal photos.  And Logan won’t expose Kingpin for fear of bringing down Sarah.  So it all winds up as rather futile at the end of the day, but I guess that’s the point; this is the heroes getting away with a no score draw, while the bad guys remaining on top.

There’s a “To Be Continued” on the last panel, so maybe this is going somewhere.  But it’s mainly a chase story, and if it seems to wind up back where it started, it does at least have a decently fun time getting there.


Bring on the comments

  1. Moo says:

    “… the public already know he’s a bad guy and they voted for him anyway.”

    Seems implausible. Oh, waitaminute…

  2. Si says:

    Kingpin’s status quo is never going to be reversed in a Wolverine book. This was never going to be anything but running on a treadmill. The only hope would be if this is a leadup to some ghastly crossover event. Pass.

  3. Mikey says:

    Paul, we miss your X-Men reviews.

  4. JD says:

    The July solicitations advertise the return of Bullseye (and him teaming up with Logan against another assassin), so that’s presumably it.

    Amusingly, Daredevil has already had Fisk (temporarily) replaced as Mayor of NYC after an assassination attempt sent him into a coma in issue #600.

  5. Chris says:

    Norman Osborn’s last two downfalls occurred outside of Spider-Man comics….

    Dumber things can happen

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