Comic Book Review: Wolverine #72

The Revolution has been thoroughly entertained by Millar’s “Old Man Logan.” I fully expect Wolverine #72 to be another strong read. It is going to be tough for Millar to deliver the payoff to this story with all the buildup we have been getting to the moment that Logan finally pops his claws. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Wolverine #72.

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

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

Synopsis: We begin with Washington, DC in ruins. Red Skull is standing next to a defeated Captain America whose legs are pinned under some cement blocks. They are in front of a burnt down Capital Building. Red Skull gloats about how the villains have defeated all of the heroes. Red Skull says that he always knew that the heroes could not beat the villains if the Red Skull could organize the villains.

Red Skull states that he is dividing up America upon his Lieutenants. That Abomination gets California, Magneto gets Las Vegas and Doctor Doom gets the Bible belt. The Red Skull then says “Guess who gets the White House?”

We see the bloody Captain America crying. Red Skull says “Shh. Don’t get upset. It’ll all be over soon.” The Red Skull then pushes his fingers through Captain America’s eyes and kills Captain America.

We zip to the present in New Babylon where the White House has been restyled with Nazi styled decorations. Red Skull is in his trophy room where he keeps the various weapons, helmets and masks of the heroes that the villains defeated. The most prominently displayed trophies are Captain America’s shield and Iron Man’s armor.

We see that Red Skull is wearing Captain America’s old and bloody costume. Red Skull gloats how even know as an old man he would beat Captain America. Red Skull mentions how the ancients wore the skins of their fallen foes. Red Skull feels he should be allowed his eccentricities. Red Skull’s aide enters and informs him that Tobias and the SHIELD men are here.

Tobias and his team enter and drop Hawkeye’s corpse at Red Skull’s feet. They also drop another body bag with Logan’s body in it onto the floor. Tobias hands the case with the super solider serum in it. Red Skull decides to add Hawkeye’s body to his trophy room even though Red Skull never viewed Hawkeye as an important or top tier hero.

Red Skull wonders how many other would-be super heroes there are out there hiding in their basements. Tobias replies that it is nothing that SHIELD cannot handle. Red Skull rewards Tobias for his work by giving him a nice sum of money. Suddenly, one of the SHIELD agents notices Logan moving around in the body bag.

Logan then takes out the agent. Logan then stands up. Logan then brutally takes out Tobias and the other SHIELD agents. Red Skull is amused that Logan is before him. Red Skull thought that Wolverine was walking the path of the righteous nowadays. Logan charges Red Skull. Red Skull lays a beating on Logan.

Red Skull mocks Logan for not even popping his claws. Red Skull then activates the automatic locks on the doors to the trophy room so that the two men can finish their duel in peace. Logan picks up Captain America’s shield. Red Skull grabs a sword. (Is that the Black Knight’s ebony blade?) The two men then engage in battle. Logan gets the upper hand.

Logan beats the Red Skull to the ground. The Red Skull mocks Logan and says “Don’t make me laugh. You haven’t got the guts.” Logan then uses Captain America’s shield to decapitate the Red Skull. (Damn!! That was sick!)

Logan says over and over “Can’t let the kids down.” Logan grabs the suitcase full of money. Logan then puts on the Iron Man armor. Red Skull’s soldiers break through the doors to the trophy room. Logan then uses the Iron Man armor’s repulsor rays to blast the Red Skull’s soldiers. Logan then blasts off through the roof.

Logan flies at full speed toward California. 500 miles before Logan arrives at home, the armor warns Logan that it is running out of power. Logan yells “Just keep going, computer! I will not let my family down! You understand?” The armor then runs out of power. Logan crashes to the ground.

Two men see Logan crash to the ground. The men descend on Logan with desires to scavenge the armor to sell for money. Logan pops up and takes down the two men. Logan then runs toward his house.

We shift to 36 hours later. Logan arrives at his house. Logan sees Donovan standing outside of Logan’s house with his hat in his hand. Logan exclaims that he has the money to pay the Hulk Gang. Donovan replies that the Hulk gang has already been here. Logan is shocked and stammers that he had two more weeks to pay the Hulk Gang. Donovan replies “They said they got bored.”

Logan enters his house and sees his wife and children dead. Logan just stares at the corpses of his family with no emotion on his face. Donovan urges Logan to not do something stupid. Donovan says that the Hulk Gang will just take it out on the rest of the people in their community. Donovan says that Logan is not the man he used to be.

Donovan says Logan can honor his family by grieving and giving them good Christian burials. Donovan says that he and the rest of the community are here for Logan. Donovan says that Logan has to promise to not go looking for revenge against the Hulk Gang. Logan continues to stare at his family’s corpses with no emotion on his face. Donovan calls out “Logan?” Logan gets an angry look on his face.

Logan responds “The name isn’t Logan, Bub.” We then get a two page splash shot of the word “SNIKT!” We then see Wolverine with his claws popped. Wolverine says “It’s Wolverine.” End of issue.

Commentary
The Good: Wolverine #72 was an excellent read. This issue furthers my impression that “Old Man Logan” is basically just Unforgiven on a much larger scale and involving super heroes instead of cowboys. And you know what? That is absolutely fine with me. Because it is a formula that works and provides for an entertaining story.

Not every comic book has to be a byzantine read where the reader needs a Rosetta stone to try and decipher what the writer is trying to tell them. Not every story has to be one mystery after another where the reader has no idea what is doing to happen next.

Most of “Old Man Logan” is relatively predictable. And that is perfectly fine with me. The magic in this story is not where Logan is going, but the journey to get there. The appeal of “Old Man Logan” is the excellent character work and the elaborate and enthralling setting that Millar has constructed for this story.

Millar crafts some impressive dialogue in Wolverine #72. Once again, Millar makes a concerted effort not to overwhelm the reader with extraneous and pointless dialogue. There are no moments dominated by rambling exposition.

Instead, Millar carefully constructs his dialogue so that each word has weight and a purpose. Each character has their own defined external voice. The Red Skull’s dialogue is spot on. This is exactly how I like to see the Red Skull written. And Logan’s dialogue continues to be properly short and blunt.

Millar also pulls off plenty of enjoyable character work. I loved the opening scene with Red Skull and Captain America. It was interesting to note that Captain America has brown eyes and is wearing Bucky’s Captain America costume.  So, it appears that this is Bucky and not Steve.  Millar crafts an excellent victory speech by Red Skull. I liked that it has more of an air of satisfaction over the success rather than mere diabolical gloating.

Of course, Millar certainly has the Red Skull tweak Captain America in this moment of victory; but Millar does it in a restrained fashion. I enjoyed how Red Skull kills Captain America with such a quiet fury. It was not an act of ranting rage. It was more of the Red Skull savoring the moment as he closes the book on a life-time of feuding with his arch nemesis.

I enjoyed Red Skull’s trophy room. Millar having the Red Skull wearing Captain America’s costume was weird and completely fitting and consistent with Red Skull’s character. And it made for nice imagery as Red Skull battled Logan in the trophy room. Millar did a fantastic job with the fight scene in the trophy room. It was a gripping scene. The use of the ebony blade and Captain America’s shield was well done.

The fight scene had nice psychology and Logan and Red Skull went back and forth. The fact that Logan still refused to pop his claws in this epic battle with Red Skull was a nice swerve. Most readers, myself included, probably expected the claws to come out during this battle. However, the use of Captain America’s shield to kill the Red Skull made for much more powerful symbolism than Logan using his claws.

Also, Logan not using his claws in his battle with the Red Skull made the moment that Wolverine finally popped them at the end of the issue that much more exciting after having been teased with the prospect of the claws coming out during the trophy room battle. The moment that Logan decapitates Red Skull with Cap’s shield was jaw dropping. I just did not see that coming at all.

I loved all of the symbolism in the trophy room scene. More and more, Marvel has pushed Iron Man and Captain America as the two big icons of the Marvel Universe. And Millar plays with that theme that we saw so much of during Civil War.

It was a nice touch to have Logan use the weapons from both Captain America and Iron Man during the trophy room scene. Captain America’s shield is used to cut down Red Skull and Iron Man’s armor is used to mow down the Skull’s troops and to allow Logan to make his escape and return to his home in short order.

The final scene with Logan at his house was fantastic. Yes, the reader knew that Logan’s family was probably going to get killed near the end of the story. Just like we knew that Hawkeye was going to buy it at some point. But, that does not matter. The point is that the death of Logan’s family played perfectly into the moment that Millar has been promising the reader: The Snikt.

The reader has been waiting for the payoff since the very first issue of “Old Man Logan.” And Millar has really built this moment up and teased the reader with scenes where we thought we were going to finally see the claws like when Hawkeye’s daughter was going to kill Hawkeye, when Tobias kills Hawkeye or when Logan battled Red Skull.

Because of the massive build up to this moment, I was concerned if Millar would be able to properly deliver an effective and satisfying enough payoff. My fears were completely unfounded. Wolverine is reborn and this moment was totally worth the wait. I am not sure how Millar could have delivered this payoff any better than he did with the final scene in this issue.

Logan’s emotionless and wordless response to his family’s death was perfect. Logan simply stares in disbelief as he tries to soak in his family’s death. Then we get the one panel of anger finally creeping across Logan’s face as Logan dies and Wolverine is reborn. And then we get the money shot. A two page splash shot of the word “Snikt.” That was absolutely brilliant.

One and two page splash shots of Wolverine popping his claws have been done to death. And the final page of this issue is an example of that. Is it cool looking? Sure, but we have seen that pose millions of times before.

However, a two page splash shot of the word Snikt? Nope. I cannot remember that. And that is exactly what the reader has been waiting for. We have been waiting for the “snikt.” And that is what should be focused on. That two page splash shot made a huge grin break out across my face.

Millar succeeds in getting the reader incredibly pumped up by the end of this issue. The reader is at their edge of their seat and practically cheering for Wolverine to bring the pain to the Hulk Gang. And we also have the fact that Millar is going to end Wolverine’s story where it started. Wolverine was born and began his career by going after the Hulk. Now, Wolverine is reborn and will end his career by going after the Hulk Gang. This adds nice symmetry to Logan’s story.

McNiven and Vines combine to deliver a beautiful issue. The amount of detail in McNiven’s artwork is mind blowing. McNiven brings such richness and depth to Millar’s story. McNiven’s art is able to convey the proper sense of age to the setting of “Old Man Logan.” What is particularly enjoyable is how much power and intensity McNiven is able to inject into the various scenes in this issue.

The image of the blown up Capital, the victorious Red Skull and the beaten Captain America in the beginning of this issue was striking. The moment when Logan kills Red Skull hits the reader like a punch to the chest. And the scene with a stunned Logan staring at his dead family evokes such feelings of loss. Millar and McNiven truly make a fine pair and are able to deliver quite an emotional read.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Wolverine #72 was an incredibly entertaining read. Millar and McNiven deserve plenty of praise for their work on “Old Man Logan.” Wolverine #72 offers a delightful mix of action, drama, good character work and well crafted dialogue. There is something for everyone in this issue. Wolverine #72 is definitely worth the cover price. I definitely recommend getting this issue.

4 Comments

  1. I’m not a regular reader of Wolverine (I can get my Logan fix in pretty much any other Marvel comic), but thanks to your reviews I’m all over this when it comes out in a trade. I like my comics to have adventure, whereas too many writers skew towards OMGANGST! EMOTEENDRAMA! these days because they think that’s the only way to demonstrate “character development.” (As a Creative Writing teacher, this *really* burns me.)

    This looks like it would hit the spot. I wish I’d have jumped on board earlier!

  2. I didn’t like it near as much as you. Derivative plot, the shallow ‘parade of wonders’, 3 pages of actual story per 22.

    On the other hand, Millar actually tried to tell an adventure story. In this day and age, that should be encouraged.

    7 out of 10, to be generous.

  3. Trying to figure out how this timeline diverges from the old one bugs the hell out of me. The X-Men portions of this are heavily Jim Lee-era (meant, more likely than not, to be familiar to fans of the 90s animated show), and other stuff like classic Thor likewise suggests an older era. Then you have Bucky as Cap showing up.

    Not important at all to the story, really, but as a nerd these are the things my mind fixates on.

  4. I enjoyed this issue alot, if it werent for the delays, this arc would probably have been looked at as one of the greatest wolverine stories of all time. Favorite part was the family guy moment of “oh no!” then the kool-aid guy jumps through the wall and says “oh yeah”

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