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Jun 17

Old Man Logan #5-7 – “Bordertown”

Posted on Friday, June 17, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

There’s a bit of a pattern emerging here.

Between issues #4-5, Logan shows up in the first Extraordinary X-Men arc and joins the X-Men.  This series skips over all that and picks up with him taking one of his signature leaves of absence from the X-Men so that he can go off and spend some Logan time.  This time, he goes up to small town Alaska, retracing his steps from his post-apocalyptic future.

There, he spends the better part of an issue settling into a nice normal job and getting a place to live for the winter.  The point, as it turns out, is for him to track down Maureen, the girl who would have gone on (in his timeline) to become his wife.  Logan’s narration tells us that he wants to stop something-or-other traumatic from happening to her.

Needless to say, this doesn’t work out at all well, because what actually happens is that a bunch of bad guys show up in town looking for Logan, and start ploughing through the town trying to get to him.  So, of course, simply by virtue of showing up to try and protect someone, Logan has ended up making matters immeasurably worse.  He does actually succeed in protecting her in the end, but not before leaving her good and traumatised anyway.

It’s never entirely clear what Logan was trying to prevent in the first place.  It’s possible that this is meant to be a time paradox story where he winds up being the traumatic event he was trying to avert, but that wouldn’t fit with the idea that this isn’t his past (and we pretty clearly established in the previous arc that it isn’t).  That leaves the possibilities that either it’s a dangling plot for future reference, or it’s just intentionally non-specific.

The latter would work quite well here, because the broad point of this story – as emphasised by some symbolic pages in the final chapter – is that Logan can’t escape from his story, that he always brings chaos in his wake, and that the only way he can really protect anyone from it is by succumbing to his own role and fighting back. The mock-printed-page colouring effects on those pages seem intended to stress the idea that this is about the Wolverine story format, and everyone being worse off if Logan tries to resist playing his part.

The villains could really be anybody, but as it happens, it’s Lady Deathstrike and a new version of the Reavers.  That’s as good a choice as any; they’re about the right level of threat, and their body horror angle suits the tone.  Deathstrike herself is somewhat underused, really being used more as an end of level boss than anything more complex, but then it’s not her story; she’s just there to lend a bit of credibility to the Reavers.

Andrea Sorrentino does some strong work throughout this.  In the past he’s sometimes tended to go for distractingly flashy symbolic page layouts, but this arc tends to leave that stuff to the dream sequences and tells the story a bit more straightforwardly.  The body language of a still slightly defeated-looking Logan does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of selling this character as meaningfully different from the original Wolverine.  And the Reavers play to his strengths, letting him draw weirdly surreal and disturbing distortions of the human figure.

But the upshot of all this turns out to be Logan deciding that he’s going to go and be proactive and hunt down the baddies.  Which…

Here’s the thing.  Mark Millar’s original “Old Man Logan” story takes the character from a downtrodden retiree to a reinvigorated hero.  Brian Bendis’ miniseries does pretty much the same thing again.  Jeff Lemire’s first arc in this book takes him from viciously determined to alter his past to directionless.  And now here we are going from conventionally heroics to “hunt them down and get them first”, which, functionally speaking, is pretty much what he spent the previous arc learning not to do.

This doesn’t feel like a character arc so much as a pendulum.  The basic idea that even though Logan isn’t in his own past, he still wants to use his knowledge to stop something similar happening, makes reasonable sense.  But we have here a character who seems to spent the vast majority of his time appearing in arcs that result in him rededicating himself to a heroic cause.  And this seems like one iteration too many – especially since it seemed to be setting up to say something a bit more interesting about the character in general, only to wind up feeling like it’s retreading old ground.

I’m not desperately excited about “he’s Wolverine but proactive” as a direction, either.  That’s basically X-Force and it’s been done before with the original Wolverine.  It feels like we’re missing a hook that really justifies this version of Logan as an ongoing protagonist distinct from the original.

But it’s a very nice book to look at, and it does hit some strong emotional beats with Logan trying to dig Maureen out of the hole he’s got her into.  That’s a good central idea – it just doesn’t quite click when it moves beyond that to a bigger picture.

Bring on the comments

  1. jpw says:

    I just can’t bring myself to care about this character. The absence of comments suggests I’m not alone in this view.

  2. Billy says:

    I’m actually liking Old Man Logan. It is different enough from classic Wolverine to be interesting enough to follow, at least for now. I don’t know how long that will hold, though.

    The story arc with the Reavers actually made the Reavers look dangerous, which is the first time in decades (if not ever.) I think the art style was perfect for that story.

    Ultimately though I think story potential will be a problem. Marvel wants Logan in other books, and we’ve already seen conflicting portrayals across his appearances. Nor can he go too far afield in his solo book because he’s also tied to an X-Men team.

    I guess if I can get a few decent arcs out of the character, it will be okay.

    Site note: It is kind of sadly funny to see that Logan’s weaker healing factor is already wildly inconsistent when the plot deems necessary. So, will Old Man Logan last long enough to eventually be shown regenerating from a drop of blood?

  3. mark coale says:

    The only OML i care about is in Marvel Puzzle Quest. 😉

  4. Brendan says:

    There’s something a little meta about publishing stories of an old, worn out Logan not wanting to be Wolverine but having to do Wolverine-like things anyway.

  5. Chris V says:

    The book seems aimless.
    It started out with him hunting down super-villains that he blamed for his future.
    Then, it switched to him finding his love from the future in this time.
    That was actually an interesting direction, I found.
    However, it lasted all of three issues.
    After that, he decides that he’s going to proactively go after super-villains again.
    Very start and stop plotting.

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