Nothing can kill a white hot story arc more than shipping problems. And that is what has happened to Millar’s Old Man Logan story arc. It seems like those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. We had these same shipping issues the last time Millar and McNiven teamed up together and gave us Civil War. Wolverine #68 came out way back on August 27, 2008. Here it is two and a half months later and we are finally getting Wolverine #69. At any rate, I am sure that Wolverine #69 will be a blast to read. Let’s go ahead and do this review.
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Steve McNiven
Inks: Dexter Vines
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: We begin with Ashley about to kill her father, Hawkeye. Logan then comes blasting into the room in the Spider-Buggy and scoops up Hawkeye. Logan keeps the pedal to the metal as the Spider-Buggy blasts through the building’s exterior wall and flies through the air and then busts through the exterior wall of the building across the street. Ashley orders her thugs to go chase her father.
We slide forward two hours. The pitch black is torn open by Logan who has lit a light stick. Logan had passed out and just woke up. Logan’s light stick reveals that the Mole Men have been on the scene and Logan sees some Mole Men eating some of the thugs that were chasing Logan and Hawkeye.
Logan then fires up the Spider-Buggy and tells Hawkeye that they will get out of here since Parker’s car can do whatever a spider can. We then see the Spider-Buggy zipping straight up the wall of the ravine.
We see Logan and Hawkeye zipping through Wyoming where dinosaurs that people bought years ago and then dumped because they were so expensive to maintain are roaming free in large packs. Our heroes then zip through Electroville where they pass a huge skeleton lying under a skyscraper. Hawkeye explains that it is Loki’s giant skeleton and that the building is the Baxter Building. Hawkeye mentions to Logan that Logan really missed one hell of a fight that night.
The heroes then pass by Mount Rushmore which now has Red Skull’s face on it in addition to the four Presidents. We then shift forward to our heroes at a bar in Des Moines, Iowa. Logan asks Hawkeye if he is still shook up about Ashley. Hawkeye answers that he was the first human being that Ashley laid eyes on when she was born. Hawkeye continues that he helped so many people leave this world that it was damn cool to watch someone arrive. Hawkeye wonders how he could have screwed up things so badly.
Hawkeye then changes the conversation and mentions how Logan is starting to act more like his old self. Logan answers “That’s what I’m afraid of.” Hawkeye asks Logan what he means. Logan answers that Hawkeye knows what he means.
We flashback to a bloody and torn up Wolverine standing over the bodies of Mr. Sinister, Omega Red and Lady Deathstrike. Logan begins to cry. Logan says that he is not that guy anymore. Logan says that he loves his wife and kids and that he loves the little life they have carved out for themselves. Logan reiterates that he is doing this job with Hawkeye so that Logan can pay his rent. Logan states “You gotta believe that. I ain’t excited by death anymore…”
Hawkeye responds “Easy, bro. Nobody said you where.” Hawkeye puts his arm around Logan in order to comfort Logan. This prompts one of the locals to call our heroes “Ladies” and to comment that he did not realize that tonight was…but before he can finish his insulting statement, Logan snaps and jumps on the guy and places his fist under the guy’s chin. Logan growls for the guy to just try and make his joke. Hawkeye screams out “LOGAN!”
The Good: Wolverine #69 was another entertaining issue. This issue starts out the box quick as the first nine pages are full of adrenaline pumping action. Millar then eases off the gas and gives the reader a chance to soak in more of the setting of this future version of America. Millar then ends Wolverine #69 with an excellent scene that focuses on character building. All in all, Wolverine #69 was a nicely balanced read.
Millar continues to do a fine job setting the scene for this nightmarish version of America. I have been impressed with Millar’s world building skills as he has been able to give this future Earth plenty of depth and intrigue. The reader gets such a strong sense of the bleakness, lawlessness and hopelessness that permeates this future Earth.
Millar continues to do a fine job fashioning the Mole Men into such a menacing and horrifying threat to the surface world. The Mole Men are largely ignored in the current day Marvel Universe so it is neat to see how Millar has been able to make them such an ever-present threat in the future.
Millar treats the reader to plenty of neat little throwaways as our heroes travel across the country. We see Loki’s giant body under the Baxter Building. There is Venom’s costume stretched across a canyon wall in South Dakota. There is Red Skull’s visage chiseled onto Mount Rushmore. We also see wild packs of dinosaurs from the Savage Land roaming the desert.
Despite the fact that the sense of hopelessness permeates every corner of this setting and that it practically overwhelms the reader at times, Millar still gives the reader a small flicker of hope when Logan mentions Sue and Reed. The mere fact that these two heroes from Marvel’s First Family of superheroes might still be alive shows that even jaded and broken people like Logan still have a small flicker of hope within their hearts.
Millar crafts plenty of strong dialogue. The dialogue is not verbose and overly flowery. Millar is not interested in trying to give us opulent and eloquent dialogue. Instead, Millar employs a minimalist approach with the dialogue that is a perfect match for Logan’s character in this story. Old man Logan is akin to Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven. This is the Man with No Name when he became an old man. These are not complex characters given to loquacious soliloquies or inner narration.
Like Eastwood’s character, old man Logan is a simple, direct and blunt character. And the stripped down minimalist dialogue is perfect. Millar shows the reader that sometimes less in more. Since there are fewer lines of dialogue, Millar has made sure that each word counts. Each line is carefully chosen and has the weight of a hammer as it hits the reader.
Despite the killing and the drug dealing, the heart of a hero does still beat inside of Hawkeye’s chest and this scene proves it. This scene only serves to further emphasize that Hawkeye is a fallen hero. And with each issue the reader wonders just how much further Hawkeye can fall from the once heroic stature that he had as a mighty Avenger.
Millar continues to do a fine job handling Logan’s character. Again, less is more as Millar proceeds to show the reader instead of telling the reader how much Logan has changed and the conflict that is raging inside of him. In the final scene, Millar relies on an economy of words and some action in order to convey to the reader the sense of pain, bitterness inside of Logan as well as the raging conflict inside of him as he struggles to be a pacifist.
Millar has Logan exclaim that he loves his wife, kids and his little life that he has carved out for himself which is Logan listing the reasons why he should embrace his new life of pacifism. Logan’s unsolicited insistence to Hawkeye that Logan no longer is excited by death anymore immediately makes the reader wonder who Logan is trying to convince: himself or Hawkeye?
This all comes to a head in the final scene as Wolverine finally violently snaps on the local man at the bar for the joke he was about to make. Even though Logan does not pop his claws, the violence and the fury flashes itself. Logan leaves the bar as he is still desperately trying to keep a lid on the violent urges. The old violent urges are like waves that are slowly building in momentum as they crash on the beach. It becomes apparent to the reader that Wolverine is reaching the breaking point with the struggle inside of his soul.
Wolverine #69 ends with a great hook ending as it appears that the reader will finally find out exactly what happened to Wolverine during the great war with the next issue. Millar has spent much time; some might say too much time, in building up the mystery surrounding what happened to Wolverine during the war between the heroes and the villains. I am certainly curious to learn exactly how the villains managed to break Wolverine.
McNiven and Vines combine to deliver some absolutely phenomenal artwork. Wolverine #69 is simply a fantastic looking issue. McNiven is able to create such a grand scope and feel to the setting of this story. The double page splash shot of Mount Rushmore conveyed the overwhelming presence of such a massive structure. I continue to love how McNiven draws Logan. Logan’s face is like Eastwood’s in the Unforgiven. The reader can see the time, pain and loss etched on Logan’s face. McNiven also is able to deliver action scenes just as well as the dramatic scenes.
The Bad: Wolverine #69 is a thin read. And there is a lack of plot progression in this issue. While Wolverine #69 might be a fast action packed read, the fact remains that not much really happens at all in this issue. I got the sense that Millar was stalling a bit for time in order to push off the reveal of what happened to Wolverine during the great war between the heroes and the villains.
I think that many readers would probably not be so irritated with how thin this issue is if it had come out on time. The lack of plot progression only becomes amplified and more noticeable by the two and one half month delay. Millar likely has his eye on Old Man Logan being released in trade format and that is to be expected. Decompressed storytelling rules modern day comic books and it can be tolerated to a point if the monthly issues actually stick to their monthly shipping schedules. Once that shipping schedule is missed then decompressed stories begin to grate on the reader’s nerves even more than usual.
Overall: Wolverine #69 was another enjoyable read. This issue would have been more enjoyable if it has been shipped on time. Some readers will balk at the lack of plot progression and relatively lack of depth to the story in this issue. However, other readers will continue to enjoy this romp through Millar’s nightmarish future of America. There is certainly enough action and adventure in this fast paced read that many readers will find entertaining.