Retrospective – Wolverine: Old Man Logan (2008/09 Millar/McNiven)

250px-OldManLoganI was talked into reading Old Man Logan back in 2011, after much hesitation and more than a few I promise, I’ll read it next week‘s. Honestly, it’s not a book I ever gave a second glance to, mostly because the only part that looked up my alley was Steve McNiven’s art. Mark Millar has always been a writer I’ve felt at odds with, and Wolverine has never been on my list of favourite characters, so while I like a good bit of blood and gore, I decided to push it to the back of the pile until I was short on reading material.

At this point, it would be timely to remind everyone that previously when McNiven and Millar teamed up for Marvel, we got Civil War. Love it or hate it, it contains some of the most iconic panels in recent comics history, and it was this that convinced me to finally give Old Man Logan a read.

At its heart, this is a western road movie. A gory, frantic actioner, that only stops briefly for a few pages of exposition, before building to its bloody, viscera splattered conclusion.

It’s brilliant, and shameless, and never once tries to be something more than an excuse for a couple of hundred or so pages of extreme violence. The plot itself exists for little reason other than to facilitate the carnage at the very end, but that doesn’t mean you ever feel any lack of sympathy or connection for road trip buddies Wolverine and Hawkeye.

old-man-loganMillar’s writing is solid, if nothing spectacular, mostly because the star of the show here is McNiven’s incredible art. Every panel is finely detailed, but never feels fussy. The dirt and grime of a future without superheroes mixes with all the blood and guts, to create a really stunningly beautiful book. Each spray of red across the page feels like it’s been flung from the tip of a paintbrush, rather than finely pencilled, inked, and coloured.

The ability to toe the line between comic art, and realism, is something that has always impressed me about McNiven. Unlike artists like Adi Granov, or Alex Ross, whose hyper-realistic style can often seem cold and unmoving, or John Romita Jr or Frank Miller’s, whose work can be quite cartoonish, McNiven’s keeps his work pulpy, yet real. Just the right amount of bright colours and sharp definition to offer up plenty of movement and visual chaos, while still being realistic enough to make you really lose yourself in the page.

As previously mentioned, the plot of Old Man Logan is secondary to the art, and it’s really pointless talking about it. It’s so thin, that even a few words on the story will really give you an idea of how the whole thing ends.

All you really need to know about Old Man Logan, is that it’s a great ride. The perfect book for someone who wants some mindless escapism, in the form of gratuitous and extreme violence. This was my third time reading this book, and I still give it ten out of ten.