Comics

Bar Fights, Final Journeys, and Dystopian Futures in Marvel's 'Dead Man Logan #1'

Old Man Logan's time is almost up, but he's prepared to go down being the best he is at what he does.

Dead Man Logan #1
Ed Brisson, Mike Henderson

Marvel Comics

28 Nov 2018

Other

Whenever a comics superhero confronts a possible dystopian future, it tests how far they're willing to go and how many lines they're willing to cross. Compared to other superhero teams, the X-men encounter more apocalyptic visions than most. What sets the wasteland of Old Man Logan's future apart from other such stories has less to do with efforts to avoid the tragedy and more to do with how he endures it.

Mark Millar captures many unique themes in his original run on Old Man Logan. It's not just another dystopian event that the heroes must avert. The worst possible scenario already happens. Moreover, Logan helps to make it happen. It's no longer a future to avoid. It's one he must endure, complete with the burdens and despair that comes with it.

Logan carries many of those burdens with him into the mainline Marvel universe after the events of Secret Wars. He suddenly finds himself in a world where he isn't tricked into killing his friends. On some levels, this is a second chance. On others, it's a test on how far he's willing to go to avoid this future from growing worse.

Since his arrival, Old Man Logan finds plenty of roles with the X-men. However, there's a distinct sense that Old Man Logan is living on borrowed time. Under Ed Brisson and his run on Old Man Logan, his time is almost up. He ties up as many loose ends as he can, including the death of Maestro in Old Man Logan #50. Now, in Dead Man Logan #1, the final leg of the old man's journey is upon him, and Brisson channels the best of Millar's dire vision to see it through.

(courtesy of Marvel Comics)

He establishes early on that Logan's cumulative efforts to fight on are catching up with him. After 50 issues of picking fights that leave him bloodied, battered, and in need of a cold beer, his healing factor is finally failing him. Cecilia Reyes confirms as such, but Old Man Logan makes no effort to treat it. This grim prognosis doesn't scare him in the slightest. If anything, it motivates him in a way that's perfectly true to his character.

In a sense, being an old man with way too many regrets help limit the sting of a death sentence. It also makes the prospect of a character dying feel less like a gimmick and more like a countdown to their final send-off. This isn't Jean Grey, Charles Xavier, or Colossus dying again. This is a man who isn't the least bit scared of dying and doesn't want to leave room for a resurrection plot. For Old Man Logan, there's no time to lament. It just means he has to make the most of what little time he has.

Fittingly, he seeks to finish what he began when he first arrives in the mainline Marvel universe. Even though he encounters plenty of differences between his timeline and the one he's in, he wants to leave nothing to chance. That means hunting down Mysterio and making sure he can't manipulate him into killing his friends. This leads to brutal bar fights, a team-up with Hawkeye, and some frustrating complications that likely need stabbing. In short, it gives Old Man Logan a chance to do what Logan does best at any age.

(courtesy of Marvel Comics)

Brisson doesn't present the story as a march towards Old Man Logan's inevitable death, however. There's still a possibility that the timeline he dreads can unfold, albeit under different circumstances. His efforts to prevent it may even be setting it up, to some extent. It's almost ironic, but only to the extent that he inspires an enemy who didn't even exist in his timeline to plot against him. This is also where the story gets somewhat less cohesive.

While involving characters like Hawkeye and Mysterio in Old Man Logan's final journey feels both fitting and necessary, having Ms. Sinister get involved comes off as random. It's not just because she's a lesser-known character who has yet to establish herself as an A-list villain for the X-men. Her reasons for getting involved seem contrived. It's almost as though she only enters the conflict out of boredom, which rarely makes for compelling action.

It still creates obstacles for Old Man Logan, however. Thanks to Ms. Sinister, his journey is no longer as simple as stabbing Mysterio or locking him in an unventilated dungeon with Mole Man. He now has to fight against someone who wants to see his apocalyptic future manifest. He even gives them more incentive. It's a nightmare scenario of his own making, but given the burdens Old Man Logan has born since the original Millar story, it's still fitting on many levels.

(courtesy of Marvel Comics)

By and large, Dead Man Logan #1 succeeds in setting Old Man Logan up for his final battle. It forges a connection between his roots in a dystopian future and his efforts to save the present timeline while he still can. Parts of that story falter as other supporting characters like Forge and Glob Herman do little to affect the plot, at least initially. The connections are loose, but the underlying plot is clear. This is Old Man Logan's final mission and he's not going to let his looming death keep him from doing what he does best. If ever there was a time to root for an old man completing his bucket list, this is it.

7 out of 10


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.