Comic Picks By The Glick

Wolverines! Both “Old” and “All-New!

August 7, 2016

The Logan we knew and loved for years is still dead.  I imagine he’ll stay that way for a few more years until people really start to miss him (and he’s burned off all that bad karma from killing all of his bastard children towards the end).  In the meantime, Marvel doesn’t have just one replacement for him -- they have TWO!  One is Laura Kinney, A.K.A. his female clone formerly known as X-23, who has taken up his mantle proper in the pages of “All-New Wolverine.”  The other is his grizzled, time-traveling future counterpart from Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s “Old Man Logan” series.  The new “Old Man Logan” series comes from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, and I bought it outright on the strength of its creative team.  “All-New” comes to us from Tom Taylor and David Lopez, which I picked up after I saw it being significantly discounted on Amazon.  If you’re guessing that this is going to be a review about the title I wasn’t planning on buying being the better of the two, then you’d be right.

“Old Man Logan vol. 1:  Berserker” has a good premise that acknowledges the character’s current situation and source material.  After the events of “Secret Wars” left Old Man Logan stranded in the present day Marvel Universe, he now has to figure out what to do with himself.  Realizing that the future he came from is not one that he’d wish on anyone, Logan whips up a short list of people that he needs to kill in order to prevent it from ever happening.  While the first name on the list is a D-list villain who nobody will miss, the fact that the other names on it include Bruce Banner, Mysterio, and the Red Skull indicates that it’s going to be a (steep) uphill battle from here.  But what happens when he finds out that Banner isn’t the Hulk of this era?  Or when he comes face-to-face with what happened to the Logan of this era?

After writing Jeppard in “Sweet Tooth,” it’s clear that Lemire knows how to write old, grizzled characters with lots of regrets and a violent streak a mile wide.  The writer does a good job fleshing out some of those regrets with the flashbacks to “Old Man’s” other timeline that establish him as a peace-loving family man.  In the present day, he’s all hard-bitten anger and it’s not surprising that it takes him so long to realize that his current endeavor is effectively pointless.  Seeing him come to that realization actually makes for a pretty nice arc that Lemire ties directly into the character’s appearance in “Extraordinary X-Men” at the end.  The problem is that with Logan’s stated purpose fulfilled here, where do you go with him as a character aside from doing “Wolverine” stories -- but with an older one?  That’s a question for the next volume, leaving this one coming off as alright for what it is.  I’d probably be harder on it, but Sorrentino’s moody, vibrant, and occasionally explosively dramatic art really does elevate the whole title.

Lopez isn’t as showy an artist, but he’s quite solid in his own way.  He knows how to craft an action scene, have his characters emote well on the page, and have the art flow in an easy-to-follow manner across the page, eventually leading up to a dramatic splash.  Nothing really innovative or surprising in his style, but a good example of the form.  That’s “All-New Wolverine vol. 1:  The Four Sister” in a nutshell.  I’ve had limited exposure to Laura Kinney prior to reading this volume, but writer Taylor does a good job of making her a worthy successor to the Wolverine name.  We see this as she meets up with three escapees from Alchemax Genetics who have been destroying the company’s facilities and attempting to assassinate key employees.  This is relevant to Laura’s interests as these escapees are actually clones of her that were created by the company to be used as a security force.  Though this all-new Wolverine is now faced with the prospect of putting distaff versions of herself down, there’s always the possibility that Alchemax may have been lying to her about this.  I mean, they’re a big corporate organization in the Marvel Universe who went on to become the bad guys of the “Spider-Man 2099” series, I’m sure they’re on the up-and-up here!  (Okay, I’ll stop now…)

One of the things I do know about Laura is that she was conditioned to be a killer from a very young age.  However, Taylor makes a concerted effort to write against that here as while it’s acknowledged that she’s the best there is at what she does, it doesn’t mean she has to do it.  While that would seem to be problematic in a storyline that features lots of faceless bad guy security forces as opposition, it actually comes off pretty well as we see that she’s got the necessary skills to take them all out non-lethally.  Taylor also ties the series to the larger Marvel Universe through the use of Doctor Strange and The Wasp as guest-stars, and acknowledges Lauara’s ongoing relationship with Angel from “All-New X-Men.  I appreciated these nods to continuity, even if Strange’s role here borders on the superfluous.  All-in-all, “The Four Sisters” is a satisfying action story that makes me want to read more about this “All-New Wolverine’s” adventures.  Particularly with how the volume ends with a worthy addition to the supporting cast and the setup of a long-term story.  Where “Old Man Logan’s” future is as uncertain as its title character’s, “All-New Wolverine’s” has one worth looking forward to.