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Nov 4

Dead Man Logan #7-12: “Welcome Back, Logan”

Posted on Monday, November 4, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

We may be comfortably into the Krakoa-era X-Men, but here’s one last book wrapping up from the previous era. Dead Man Logan may be billed as a twelve issue miniseries, but in practice it’s the final two arcs of Ed Brisson’s run on Old Man Logan, with art from the excellent Mike Henderson.

Old Man Logan is a problem character for the X-books. As a diversion for a few issues, which is how Mark Millar introduced him, he worked well enough – there was plenty about the Wastelands that was absurdly over the top, it being a Mark Millar comic and all, but the basic engine of the ageing western hero worked well for Logan. As a character brought back to the present day… well, it depends what angle you look at it from.

Viewed from his own perspective, there was something there, in a broken down, older version of Wolverine getting one more go at reliving a life that went horrendously wrong, and haunted by the fear that this one would all collapse around him as well. From the standpoint of the wider X-books, though, he served mainly to undermine the death of Wolverine Prime, by nearly instantly replacing him with a character who wasn’t all that different. The key of Mark Millar’s story was that he was a Wolverine driven into retirement who finally snapped and became Wolverine again. But since that story had already been done, the character was just… an older version of Wolverine.

And since Wolverine is already meant to be over a century old, “older Wolverine” isn’t really a hook. So unless you were going to do stories that turned quite specifically on his past in the Wastelands, he wound up just being a spare Wolverine. Old Man Logan itself often managed to avoid that; Old Man Logan as a character in X-Men stories generally didn’t.

The run-up to House of X saw a swathe of deck-clearing, clearing away the duplicate Silver Age X-Men, but also Old Man Logan. Even though his story has kept running in parallel with the Krakoa arc, he finally departed the Marvel Universe for his home timeline in issue #6, so he was comfortably out of the way so far as House of X was concerned. And these two arcs form the climax to Ed Brisson’s run which, clearly, was designed from the off to bring Old Man Logan to a definitive end. After all, if you play your cards right, there’s one great advantage that Old Man Logan has over the original: you can kill him, and people will believe it.

So Brisson’s run is all about bringing Logan to an end, something that’s been partly achieved by lifting a basic plot device of the Logan film: Logan has vials of a super healing serum which can temporarily get him back up to classic Wolverine powers, but he’s got a finite supply, he can’t get them replaced, and without them he’s terminally ill. You know the sort of finale this is heading to – especially if you’ve seen the film, but it’s hardly a massive leap anyway. And hey, it’s familiar, but at least it’s a good idea being reused.

Plus, Dead Man Logan has nothing to do with the actual plot of the movie, beyond the basic idea of giving the character a definitive end. What do you do to get rid a second Logan? You can have him get killed or vanish in the mainstream Marvel Universe, but everyone will expect him to come back. So instead, Brisson plays it straight and takes the guy back to the Wastelands.

The key to this is to make it feel like Logan has achieved something by getting home, instead of just giving up and going back to an apocalyptic wasteland. But the hook is easy: Logan tried giving his life a second go in the present, but for everything that was awful about the Wastelands, at least he had a wife and children there. That’s his home, and all he wants is to go home and be buried with his family. That’s the story.

So after he spent the first half of the series tying up loose ends in the present and getting back to the Wastelands, these six issues are spent on a road trip back across America to his home, helped by Dani Cage and the junior Hulk that he rescued as a baby, and pursued by various types who’ve picked up on his return and want to get him first.

Now, you can probably see where I’m going to have a problem with this: it’s six issues in the Wastelands, and I don’t especially like the Wastelands. This story gamely replicates the absurdity of what Millar set up, with cannibals trying to capture Wolverine and live off him (doesn’t he need fed…?), a patchwork Sabretooth (based on a line of dialogue from Weapon X), and a randomly jittery Speedball. All of this is pretty true to the spirit of the Wastelands as previously established. Which is to say, I get why it’s being done, but it’s not something that particularly grabs me.

But the book does hold on to the idea that Logan himself should have a certain quiet dignity in the middle of all this, and it does things with Dani to give a bit of hope for the Wastelands going forward. And it’s got Mike Henderson’s art, which is often starkly beautiful when the story allows for it, and suitably ridiculous when the story calls for a parade of grotesques. It doesn’t exactly make sense that Wolverine seems to go white as he nears death, but it sure looks good, and the second half of issue #12 is wonderful stuff.

Dead Man Logan has to rank as a success; it takes a duplicate Logan who was surplus to requirements, ties up his loose ends, and gives his story a definitive end that feels like it meant something. Wastelands stories can lend themselves to snide nastiness, but this is different; it’s Logan getting the ending he earned. It’s sentimental to be sure, but he’s Wolverine. He can take being sentimental.

Bring on the comments

  1. Col_Fury says:

    Of course, this ending means that not only was this Old Man Logan a surplus Wolverine, but he was also a surplus Old Man Logan. Millar’s original Old Man would live on for centuries more to become the Hooded Man in Millar’s New Defenders team (which also has a grown Banner Jr.) in his Fantastic Four run with Bryan Hitch.

  2. Kelvin Green says:

    It seems that Old Man Logan is related to Optimus Prime.

  3. wwk5d says:

    “Dead Man Logan has to rank as a success”

    Yes and no. This arc could have definitely been an issue or 2 shorter. But hey, as a send-off for a placeholder Wolverine, it could have been worse.

    I wonder if the stuff with Dani and junior Hulk a set for the upcoming Avengers of Wasteland series?

  4. CJ says:

    @Kelvin Green
    “I’m the best there is at what I do, bub: giving freedom to all sentient beings.”

  5. Paul says:

    I think it needs to be that *length* because it’s a mirror of the original arc – a road trip across America. It’s in the nature of road trip stories that what happens along the way tends to be a bit episodic (which is why I’m not wild on them generally).

  6. Joseph S. says:


    Future stories are always tricky regarding continuity. Anyway I think we can hand wave that away with Secret Wars?

  7. Col_Fury says:

    Oh, sure. But we’re still left with two Old Man Logans; the one that died here, and the one that repopulates the Earth with Gaea.

    Millar was very clear in connecting all his Marvel stuff. (even)Old(er) Man Logan shows up in Fantastic Four, as well as the kid from his 1985 mini as the villain, etc. That story was over and done well before Secret Wars, which is where Bendis brought this version in. Did Bendis realize that Old Man Logan already had an ending? Who knows?

    Sure fans can look at this version as the “real” one, or they can look at Millar’s version as the “real” one. Either way, we have two of them.

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