Comic Book Review: Wolverine #69

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.

Creative Team
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 see the Spider-Buggy busting through the second building and landing onto the street. Logan then hauls ass out of town. As they leave the city limits, Logan realizes that a horde of cars full of Ashley’s thugs as well as thugs riding dinosaurs are hot on their tail and gaining. Logan cannot believe that Ashley’s thugs have dinosaurs. Hawkeye explains that the dinosaurs are imports from the Savage Land. Evidently, the Western part of the United States is covered with dinosaurs.

Suddenly, there is an earthquake and the earth splits open. The Spider-Buggy as well as the cars that were chasing after Logan and Hawkeye all fall into the newly made massive ravine. Logan barks for Hawkeye to strap himself in. We see all the automobiles plummeting into the darkness.

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 chases away the Mole Men with the light stick. Logan calls out for Hawkeye. Hawkeye yells back that he is still strapped inside of the Spider-Buggy. Logan flips the Spider-Buggy right side up. Logan turns on the Spider-Buggy’s lights and then surveys the scene. Logan informs Hawkeye that the Mole Men ate all of the thugs that were chasing them.

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.

We see our heroes travelling through South Dakota. We see Venom’s costume stretched across one of the mountain walls like a dead carcass. Logan says that they know what happened to Ben and Johnny, but that no one knows what happened to Reed and Sue. Logan says that there are rumors that Kang beat up Reed and Sue and dumped them in the time stream. Logan mentions that maybe Reed and Sue will come back and save the world just like in the old days. Hawkeye sarcastically scoffs “Yeah, right. A little late for that, don’t you think?”

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!”

We see Logan storming out of the diner. Hawkeye follows Logan outside. Hawkeye says “What happened, man? What did they do to you?” Logan stands there watching the sun set. Logan then turns around and says “Sit down an’ I’ll tell you.”

Comments
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 has been able to manufacture a real sense of dirtiness and age to this setting. The readers gets the impression that everything is old and worn down. The setting reflects Logan. Both are broken down and scarred. Millar’s dry and dusty future America reminds me of a Sergio Leone western and I can hear the music of Ennio Morricone as I read this issue.

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.

All of these little throwaways add plenty of flavor to this story. These throwaways also help to give this setting more depth and a real sense of history. These also help to pique the reader’s interest and get the reader’s imagination cooking over what happened during the great war between the heroes and the villains. Each small throwaway immediately gets the reader to want to know the story behind what we just saw. It is obvious that Millar is having fun with fleshing out this bizarre future.

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.

The final scene at the bar was where Millar conducts most of his character work in this issue. Hawkeye’s short monologue concerning his daughter was excellent. I have a feeling that we have not seen the last of Ashley. I enjoyed how Millar played with the concept of Hawkeye having been a killer and how he had extinguished the flame of life in many people. This is contrasted nicely with the miracle of birth that Hawkeye witnessed when Ashley was born. At this point the killer finally understands and experiences the joy of seeing the flame of life ignited in a newborn child.

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?

Throughout Wolverine #69, the reader begins to see some of the old violent Wolverine slowly bubble up to the surface. We see Logan’s daring rescue of Hawkeye in the beginning as well as how Logan confidently extricates Hawkeye and himself from the run-in with the Mole Men.

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.

7 Comments

  1. I thought that was Ghost Rider up there on Mt. Rushmore.

    While Red Skull would make more sense in terms of political ambition, i think the skull look’s more like GR’s face (it has no eyes, while the Red Skull is always drawn with them)

  2. I think the big secret is that logan was raped, and maybe, becoming gay, or very frustated, cos he´s the image of supermacho on comics, if millar makes this joke, everybody is going to hate him.

  3. A few thoughts:
    i agree that it was a pretty thin, albeit good read. And that if it would have come out on time, with the next issue coming the month after, then it would not have mattered. But here we are. I dont know when the next issue comes out but it cant be soon enough, i absolutely love the world that millar has created.
    On one hand, the red skull makes sense, and is frankly who i thought the president was from the start, but on the other, the skull on mt rushmore does not look like that of the red skull.
    I think that reed and sue went forward into the future with their kids valeria and franklin which is why the sue storm that came back from the future in Fantastic Four is still alive even though she supposedly came from 500+ years in the future, which is how millars arc in FF ties in with his arc in wolverine.
    I really like the whole “one man event” that Millar has going.
    I think that on the night that the heroes fell, Wolverine killed everyone who attacked him (as shown in # 69) and then one of two things happened. Either he accidently killed someone he loved in a berserker rage, or he was too late to save someone he loved. Like i said earlier, the next issue cant come soon enough after this 2 1/2 month wait.
    -hobosk8er

  4. I have a feeling that the package, that Hawkeye is supposed to be delivering, is actually Logan. I hope not, but I have the sick, pit in my stomach feeling that it is.

  5. ..

    It took longer to read your synopsis, Rok, than it took to read the comic. VERY thin. I almost forgot this book existed till it ended up in my buy pile. Talk about a book to wait for the TPB.

    I was also kind of disappointed at the geographical jump to Des Moines. I kind of figured on issue per city marked on the map. But…oh, well. (Did anyone else notice the bar they stop at is called “Millar’s”?)

    Also, what does “Dwight’s Toll” refer to? I know alot of Marvel stuff and I can’t thnk of any “Dwight”. Anyone know?

    And yes, the package seems to be Wolvie, most definite. I surmise that Reed and Sue are waiting for a “new” Avengers team-up.

    Otherwise, it’ll just be a one-man Logan show at the end. Hey, maybe evil will win. Nothings stopped the Hulk “family” in that universe.

    Very good. But a LONG wait for a thin book.

    ..

  6. As much as I love Millar and what he brings to Marvel, this issue was pointless and not worth the price of admission. It was total fluff and not very creative.

    The star of the show isn’t Wolverine or Hawk-eye, it’s been the damn Spider-Jeep. It allows Wolverine to rescue hawk-eye (very easily by the looks of it) at the start of the issue and then when trapped deep underground with seemingly no hope, well hell, no worries, just hop in the un-damaged spider-jeep (what is this thing made of?) and drive up the walls. Are you kidding me? Am I seeing this right? I mean i know this is a comic book, but this is VERY lazy writing.

    And after all this time of Wolverine keeping his cool and not telling, “what really happened?”, it takes a guy in a bar making a stupid comment to cause him to almost unravel and then cause Wolverine to tell his story? PLEASE!!!!

    And the “hook” ending did nothing for me. I think everyone with half a brain (or even a just a pulse) knew we would find out what happened to Wolverine sooner or later.

    Bottom line, this issue accomplished nothing for me. Millar has so much to draw from in this environment and this is the best he could come up with in this issue?

    The art was great, but the srory was border-line insulting……this issue gets a 3 out of 10 from me.

  7. ..

    I have to agree with “averagejoe”:

    The implied past history seems WAY more interesting than the story elements we’re getting.

    Here’s my list: a disembodied Venom; dead, giant Loki crushed with a building); Thor’s hammer as a tourist attraction; the Banner family (could we have a mini-series of just THAT, please?); Ultron 8 and Hawkeye’s ex-wife…

    We better get some more MEAT in the story that’s on the page instead of the ones we’re all creating in our imaginations based upon this “Kingdom Come” world.

    For that matter, couldn’t we just have a mini-series that shows us the decline of this alternate Earth? Or is that to literal?

    ..

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