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Aug 10

Old Man Logan #43-45: “Bullseye Returns”

Posted on Friday, August 10, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Well, there’s a title that does what it says on the tin.  This is indeed a rematch against Bullseye, who last showed up in issues #36-38 (“Moving Target”, the Kingpin arc).  As I pointed out before, Bullseye is a perfectly good Wolverine villain; the two of them might not have any particular history, but he’s a strong character and his gimmick plays well against Wolverine, who can take the damage and keep coming.

But this is also a sequel to Ed Brisson’s own Bullseye miniseries from last year, in which an aggrieved FBI widow pursued Bullseye with the aid of obscure Daredevil villains Bullet and Shotgun, and did about as well as you’d imagine, bearing in mind that it wasn’t her book.  Brisson is clearly fond of Joy Jones, as she shows up here in full costume, repackaged as “Vendetta”.

Brisson kicks things off by killing Sarah Dewey in the opening scene, a character he brought in from Kingpin for the previous Bullseye arc.  It’s genuinely surprising to see her treated as cannon fodder, but it does make some sense; it contributes to a sense that anything can happen with Bullseye, and to be honest, her arc was basically complete.  But it’s an unexpected call.

Logan investigates the murder, and stumbles into Joy, who is already investigating.  The broad idea of Vendetta isn’t especially interesting; she’s out to avenge the death of her husband and protect the innocent and all that.  The interest here really lies in the details, as there’s an edge of awkwardness in her adoption of superhero trappings.  She looks the part, in a slightly generic vigilante way.   She’s talented if green.  But she doesn’t always act according to genre expectations; she persists in taking off her mask and doesn’t want a codename.  (Logan rather awkwardly saddles her with “Vendetta”, and I don’t really believe that he’d care.)  The hook is meant to be that she’s entered the superhero world in pursuit of Bullseye and doesn’t yet quite belong there.

This is presumably supposed to play against Logan as the guy at the other end of his career who would mainly like to get out of the superhero world, and who’s already abandoned his own costume and codename as a statement along those lines.  In fact, after months of chasing Bullseye, Vendetta has only just got to the point where he’s properly starting to take notice of her.  Reasonably enough, he tries to get at her through Bullet and Shotgun, the only characters he associates with her – although this being Bullseye, it’s mainly just a fun challenge for him where he can indulge in a bit of sadism.

Juan Ferreyra’s art on these three issues is great.  It’s suitably earthy and low key during the build, and it gets across the visual set pieces of Bullseye’s attacks.  Vendetta’s costume is the slickest thing in the book, and while it looks rather generic, that’s right for the character.  But everything kicks up a gear nicely when they catch up with Bullseye and the fight scenes start; there’s a ton of pace and energy in these pages.

What doesn’t carry over so well is the focus of the story.  “Bullseye Returns” oscillates between being a well executed but fairly generic Bullseye story, and actually trying to do something with Joy.  She has a conversation with Logan in the final issue which is presumably meant to be the big theme: she thinks she’s dedicating her life to making a difference by taking down Bullseye and other like him, Logan tells her (without as such warning her off) that she’s crossed a point of no return and she’s committed her life to a Sisyphean task.

But does that really connect much to the Bullseye story?  Not particularly.  They track down Bullseye, he loses… in all that side of the story, Joy is basically a plot device giving Bullseye something to kick against.  There are a lot of static characters in this story; Bullseye isn’t the sort of character who should change, and Logan probably ought to be the seen-it-all-before veteran here, but Joy doesn’t have much in the way of reflection or big decisions either.  She already wants to go after Bullseye, and she does, and it seems she’s going to transition into doing much the same thing but more generically.

Still, if the generic Bullseye story is nothing new, Brisson and Ferreyra do it well.  This is the standard modern take on Bullseye as a sadistic killer whose Silver Age “anything as a lethal weapon” gimmick somehow enhances his scariness – partly because he could kill you at any time, but more because there’s something casually derisory about his use of stuff that was lying about.  He’s a relatively rare Marvel villain who would be at home in Gotham City, and he’s strong enough that with a bit of invention and good art behind him – both of which this story has – he can carry a couple of issues on sheer force of personality.

Not an unqualified success, but pretty good.

Bring on the comments

  1. Jerry Ray says:

    It stretches my suspension of disbelief that, assuming Logan had his usual lack of qualms about killing, Bullseye would stand a chance in a fight against him. Yeah, he can do some superficial damage, but as you say, Logan would just keep coming, and AFAIK, Bullseye is just a dude with no healing factor. (Didn’t he get some metal in his skeleton at some point, though?)

    One good shot from Logan’s claws should be all it takes to end Bullseye, who seems better suited as a villain for Daredevil (basically a normal guy) or Spider-Man (won’t use lethal force, hung up on protecting innocents) than somebody like Wolverine or even the Punisher who just need one lucky shot or stab to win the fight.

  2. Taibak says:

    Bullseye has an adamantium spine, yes.

    But I still think he’d be a match for Logan. Bullseye doesn’t have to kill him, he just needs to slow him down. Throw a knife, sever a tendon – then kill the real target and get out before Logan can heal.

  3. Luis Dantas says:

    That adamantium in Bullseye sure stands out as an odd moment. I assume that we are meant to accept it as a way of recovering from the injury that he suffered in Frank Miller’s run and think of that no more. Still, it doubled as the origin of Lady Deathstryke (in a way that did not really make sense).

    But what bugs me is that Adamantium is supposed to be unbendable, indestructible. It is not remarkably flexible, quite on the contrary really, so why would it help? And if it did, would it be noticeably better than, say, Titanium?

    I guess it was a convenient excuse for making Wolverine guest star in Daredevil back in the day, but it makes no sense otherwise.

  4. Voord 99 says:

    Isn’t it supposed to be the case that Old Man Logan’s healing factor isn’t at the ridiculous levels that Middle-Aged Man Logan’s achieved in the years before he “died”?*

    If so, Bullseye might be a formidable enough threat to be credible enough. Sharp pencil through the eye into the brain, etc. — whatever the writer decides is a quick enough death to kill this version of Logan.

    Of course, there’s also the fact that, with Original Model Logan back, the reader knows that Old Man Logan is capable of being killed off (although probably by someone with more narrative weight than Bullseye).

    *This is not the only reason why, if you absolutely have to have a Logan, and apparently you do, you’re better off with the cranky old one from the alternate future. But it’s one of the reasons.

  5. PersonofCon says:

    I’m a little surprised to find myself responding to the death of Sarah Dewey. In general, I think “civilian” deaths have more weight to them because they’re less likely to be miraculously undone, but I guess the Kingpin series stuck more than I thought.

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