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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, April 3, 2017

NULL-MYTHS: OLD MAN LOGAN (2008)

It was only after watching the 2017 film LOGAN that I learned that it had been based on a graphic novel-- actually a compilation of stories from Marvel's ongoing WOLVERINE title-- and that the writer was none other than one of the worst scripters currently in the business, Mark Millar. This is not entirely a fair opinion, since I've read few of Millar's works since my bad experience with the atrocious WANTED.


However, once I read the Millar GN, I was happily disabused of the idea that anything by Millar could have had quality in its original form. Like the 2008 movie WANTED, the 2017 LOGAN-- directed by James Mangold, who also helmed the respectable 2013 WOLVERINE-- just borrows dribs and drabs from the Millar continuity. In fact, the only things Mangold really takes away from Millar's GN are the ideas that (1) in some future setting, Wolverine has gotten very old and beat-down by coping with everyday life, which is a consequence of the fact that (2) most mutants and superheroes are out of the picture. 

Though LOGAN is far from being a game-changing movie, I can appreciate that Mangold uses some subtlety, refusing to dilute his story by telling the viewer what happened to the heroes. In contrast, Millar's OLD MAN is just Millar regurgitating the same brain-dead concept that informed the WANTED graphic novel: that all the super-villains get together and wipe out most of the heroes, sparing only a few like Hawkeye the Archer and (inevitably) Wolverine. 

As with WANTED, Millar's work is made visually bearable by his collaboration with a good if somewhat slick artist. Conceptually, though, it's just channeling the same old vibe that had begun to get tedious in Alan Moore's work in his "grim and gritty" period: What If the Superheroes, the Ones Who Always Win, Went Down to Dusky Death (and Degradation)? Incidentally, though I've scoffed at Alan Moore's claims that every writer in the business is guilty of ripping off his wonderfully ironic and deeply intellectual concepts, in the case of Millar Moore's ire would be fully justified.

 In OLD MAN Millar trades on the cumulative histories of the standard Marvel heroes for cheap shock-with-no-awe, showing no appreciation for said histories. For instance, Millar knows that Wolverine started out life as an opponent for the Incredible Hulk, so by the rules of fannish consistency, Logan as an old man must once again face the Hulk. But this is a Hulk who, for no stated reason, has become as much of a villain as the Red Skull. He's also become a gross hillbilly who rules his territory in the villain-conquered U.S, alongside a passel of green, gamma-mutated offspring. There had been other attempts to show the Hulk becoming a darker figure-- Peter David's "Maestro" iteration of the character, not to mention a few intimations of Hyde-like nastiness in the character's first appearances. But as far as I can tell, the only reason that Bruce Banner becomes a cannibalistic redneck is because he couldn't find any regular humans to have sex with. So he had sex with his first cousin, the She-Hulk, and-- presto, Instant Hillbilly!

About the only nice thing I can say about this worthless work is that I smiled a little when Hawkeye and Wolverine start tooling around in a rebuilt Spider-Mobile. But it was definitely a smile of short duration.



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