Comic Book Review: Wolverine #71

Millar’s “Old Man Logan” story in Wolverine is pretty much the only Wolverine story that I have found worth reading in quite some time. I am confident that Millar will serve up another entertaining read with Wolverine #71. We should finally find out just what exactly is the package that Clint is delivering. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Wolverine #71.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Steve McNiven
Inks: Dexter Vines

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the Venom T-Rex chasing Logan and Clint in the Spider-Buggy. A giant gun pops out of the back payload of the Spider-Buggy. Clint hops into the back and fires away at the Venom T-Rex. The bullets do nothing at all to the Venom T-Rex.

We cut to another location with a woman off-panel watching the Venom T-Rex chasing Clint and Logan. The woman says that sonic attacks work on Venom. The woman orders that Black Bolt be sent. We cut back to the Venom T-Rex still chasing the Spider-Buggy. Suddenly, the Black Bolt appears on the scene. (He is now an older bald man in a black trench coat). Black Bolt whispers “Stop.” The sonic blast from his whisper immediately takes down the Venom T-Rex.

We then see Black Bolt, Clint, Logan and the Spider-Buggy teleport away from the scene. We see them re-appearing at The Forbidden Quarter. Emma Frost then approaches Clint and Logan. Clint is less than pleased to see Emma. We learn that Emma is using her psychic abilities to make it look like she is still young and sexy. We learn that Emma married Doctor doom in order to save the mutants. That The Forbidden Quarter is the last place where their people can live free from persecution.

Clint yells that Emma and Black Bolt could have helped in the war with the villains. Clint calls Emma a traitor.  Emma says that the war was hopeless since the villains had Magneto, Loki and Doramammu. Emma says that her marriage was the only way to save mutants and Inhumans. Emma continues that it turns out that the theory that mutants were the next stop in evolution of mankind was just that. A simple theory. And it was wrong. There are now only about twenty mutants and no new mutants have been born for years. In fact, mutants were just a genetic anomaly and not the next stop in mankind’s evolution.

Clint continues to be combative with Emma. Emma comments how the super hero is still alive inside of Clint. Emma reminds Clint not to bite the hand that feeds him. Emma says that her mechanics have been working on repairing the Spider-Buggy. Emma then tells Clint that she knows what the package is. Clint spits “Well, let’s just hope you can still keep a secret, Skank.”

We then see the Spider-Buggy fully repaired and polished and looking pretty. Emma then asks if Logan has truly found contentment in California with his wife and kids. Logan replies that Emma can read his mind for that answer. Emma stares at Logan and then says “Congratulations.” Logan and Clint hop in the Spider-Buggy and drive off. We see Dr. Doom standing on top of a building and watching the Spider-Buggy from afar.

Our heroes then arrive at Pym Falls, Connecticut. We see the interstate travelling underneath Hank Pym’s giant sized skeleton. We cut to our heroes arriving at New Babylon. We see a giant statue of the Red Skull crushing the Avengers in his fist.

Before Clint and Logan enter the building to meet with the people who are purchasing the package, Clint tells Logan that the package is not drugs. Logan snaps that Clint better not be jerking him around and not give him the money Clint promised. Clint responds that he is an ex-super hero and that Logan should trust him and that Logan will still get paid. Logan quips that Clint is also an ex-super villain. Clint tells Logan to shut up. Clint says that he just figured that Logan would like to know that they were not transporting drugs. Logan answers that he is glad about that.

We see our heroes inside the building meeting with the purchaser of the “package.” The man is named Tobias. Tobias opens the case and sees 99 vials of super soldier serum. Clint says that Tobias is the front man for the Rebel Alliance which is putting together a super team that will be the newest incarnation of the Avengers.

Clint says that part of the deal is that he gets one of the vials of the super soldier serum and gets a spot on the Avengers. Clint says that the Red Skull killed his friends and that Clint wants a piece of him. Tobias says that Clint is on the team. Clint is excited and says that he feels just like he did when he first joined the Avengers.

Suddenly, one of Tobias’ men pulls out his machine gun. The thug shoots a ton of bullets into Logan. Tobias stands up and shoots Clint. Tobias reveals that he and his men are all undercover SHIELD agents. Tobias says that there is no Rebel Alliance. That there is no super team. That the President knows every conversation that happens in New Babylon.

Clint spits that just because he is old and blind does not mean that he is going to beg. Clint tells Tobias to go ahead and do his worse. Tobias says “Okay.” and then shoots Clint in the head. End of issue.

Commentary

The Good: Wolverine #71 was another exciting installment of “Old Man Logan.” Millar continues to impress me with this story. Wolverine #71 offers the reader an excellent balance of action and drama. Millar smartly bookends the slower paced dramatic scenes with an action packed beginning and a thrilling ending. Millar is just as adept at the dramatic scenes that rely on sound character work and nicely crafted dialogue as he is more cinematic scenes that deliver entertaining action. Millar’s range should make Wolverine #71 an issue that will appeal to a wide selection of readers.

Millar delivers plenty of great dialogue. The sniping between Emma and Clint was perfect. The banter between Logan and Clint continues to be well done. The character work on Logan, Clint and Emma is spot on. Each character has a distinct voice. Emma has her proper attitude and arrogance. Logan continues to talk using only an economy of words. And Clint has his trademark bravado and quick temper.

Millar demonstrates the fact that he understands Logan, Clint and Emma quite well. I like how Millar handles Emma’s character. Emma using her powers to make herself look young fits perfectly with her vain and image conscious personality. Black Bolt was well done. I dig this old and scarred version of Black Bolt.

Millar’s Logan continues to be just like Eastwood in Unforgiven. The scene with Emma and Logan was nicely executed as Millar uses Emma reading Logan’s mind to emphasize to the reader that Logan truly is happy with his current life. This should make Logan’s eventual turn to violence that much more dramatic.

Millar’s work with Clint continues to be the best use of Clint’s character that I have seen in quite some time. Millar absolutely nails Clint’s intense devotion to the Avengers as well as his desire to be a super hero. There are very few characters who take the pride in being an Avenger and a super hero that Clint does. And the reason is because Clint started off as a super villain.

Clint’s origin as a super villain first made Clint similar to an underprivileged kid who finally overcomes his background and becomes a successful businessman. However, the fact remains that Clint is always seeking validation from his peers and from himself. Clint needs to be a super hero more than your typical hero because it so clearly defines Clint and gives him self-worth.

Millar plays with this theme as he has Clint lapse back into his criminal ways after the Great War with the super villains. Clint deals drugs and moves in a circle of people who are criminal in nature. And it makes perfect sense that it would gnaw at Clint’s soul that he relapsed back to his less than heroic roots. And it makes sense that Clint would crave the redemption and self-worth of being a super hero once again more than anything else. And it fits Clint’s never-say-die personality that would spur him on to never give up despite his own age and disabilities and the massive odds that he faces in fighting the President.

Of course, the actual physical setting for this story continues to be the real star of “Old Man Logan.” I am utterly fascinated with this future Earth that Millar has constructed. It is so completely engrossing. I would love to see more of this future Earth even after “Old Man Logan” has concluded. And it would be interesting to see this world from the viewpoint of another character other than Logan.

This future Earth is much like Frank Miller’s physical setting of Sin City which is the real main star in all of the various Sin City stories. It does not matter which character that Miller focuses on. It is the shared vibrant and enthralling setting of Sin City itself that unifies the various stories and characters.

The Forbidden Quarter is yet another neat addition to Millar’s setting. I also liked Pym Falls which was certainly quite dramatic. However, the newest addition to this future Earth that I found the most interesting was New Babylon. I liked the various messages plastered across the city. We saw signs stating “Work. Family. Hate.” “Always watching you.” “Love with force.” and “Believe in the genius of the President” Those were all great. I also liked the giant statue of the Red Skull crushing the Avengers.

Millar also continues to do an excellent job constructing the history to this future Earth. I find the little bits of history that we learn in each issue to be quite interesting. In Wolverine #71, Millar reveals that Emma married the Black Bolt in an effort to band the mutants and Inhumans together for their mutual protection. We also learn that Emma and Black Bolt focused only on protecting their people and refused to help the super heroes in the war against the super villains.

Millar also reveals that the theory that mutants were the next evolutionary step for humans was completely wrong. That in fact mutants were just genetic anomalies. I thought that was a brilliant idea. By making the mutants mere genetic anomalies it takes away their one hope that they were truly special and that they were the future.

I liked the one page scene where Doom watches Logan and Clint as they leave The Forbidden Quarter. It was a neat twist by Millar to have Doom actually end up being a relatively compassionate leader compared to the other villains who are ruling the different kingdoms in America.  

Millar ends Wolverine #71 with an incredibly dramatic and exciting hook ending. I did not guess that the package was going to consist of vials of super soldier serum for a new version of the Avengers. Millar had tricked me into thinking that Logan himself was the package. Personally, I am glad that Millar did not play Clint for a villain who would betray Logan.

The swerve at the end of Tobias revealing that there is no Rebel Alliance or any super team was surprising as well. Now, Clint’s death was painfully predictable. I think that everyone knew that Clint was going to get killed at some point in this story. But, despite being predictable, it was still well done. Clint goes out as a hero and in his typical defiant fashion.

Clint would never want to die from old age. He is the type of guy that would want to die trying to fight the good fight. And it is possible that the ending of Wolverine #71 may provide the necessary impetus for Logan to finally snap and pop his claws. That just has got to happen at some point.

Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines combine to deliver some absolutely fantastic artwork. Some of the splash shots are breathtaking. No matter what the reader may think of the story, Wolverine #71 is certainly a beautiful issue to look at. McNiven has done a wonderful job breathing life into Millar’s future Earth.

The Bad: “Old Man Logan” has been a decompressed story. And Wolverine #71 continues that trend. The story never moves with a sense of urgency. And this may irritate some readers. Wolverine #71 is also not terribly deep so some readers may feel that they are getting a bit of a thin read. The fact is that the story as a whole is much deeper and more substantive than the individual issues taken by themselves. I would imagine that Old Man Logan would read much better in trade format.

Overall: Wolverine #71 was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I continue to be absolutely fascinated by the story that Millar is weaving in “Old Man Logan.” I think that there is enough drama, strong dialogue and quality character work as well as a cinematic feel to the story and bone jarring action that Wolverine #71 should appeal to a wide range of readers. If you still have not jumped aboard Wolverine then I would definitely recommend picking up “Old Man Logan” when it is released in trade format.

5 Comments

  1. Even though the whole Black Bolt-Venom thing was done in WhatIf? 4, Millar makes that fresh and exciting too.

    On the aside in the Millar vein, I just saw the movie Wanted and it was just a pale sickly shadow of Millar’s GN. The more I think about it the more I realize how bad it was.

  2. Albeit being a DC fan I have to say that I love this comic, one of the best that Marvel is putting out and this issue just amped that opinion.

    Just a couple of observations:

    -I got the impression that Emma was married to Doom, hence the ‘sell-out’ comment from Clint and that panel with him watching them going away. I mean Doom is a villian, but he is also a decent ruler and if Emma managed to make a deal with him for the sake of the mutants I can see him keeping his end of the deal.

    -I have the feeling that Logan will inject himself with the serum, just to jumpstart his battered healing factor to its prime.

    -Clint mentioned his west coast associates. And they created the serum. Maybe Tony is still alive.

    -I remember Millar saying that this story might be tied to the future he depicted in 4F with the Defenders. That could be a clue too.

    -Am I the only one that gets a strong vibe to the ‘Unforgivables’ when reading this comic?

  3. ..

    I get a big “wait for the trade” feeling.

    These books read like back-up stories. Each time I finish an issue I have to go back and count the pages because I CAN’T BELIEVE how THIN each book is.

    And the WAIT in between issues is RIDICULOUS. Is McNiven even DONE with this story or is he pencilling #72 as I type?

    You’d THINK with such an art-heavy book, they’d be AHEAD of the publishing deadlines. Has Didio gone to work at Marvel when I wasn’t looking?

    ..

  4. Hell, nobody does ‘high-concept’ like Mark Millar, do they? A Venom T-Rex…

  5. Anonymous – Actually, there were symbiote dinosaurs invading NY in Deadpool 50 and it was done even better than this Venom Rex scene.

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