The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Wolverine: Old Man Logan’, ‘Dark X-Men: The Confession’ & ‘New Avengers’

First off I just wanted to thank Dave and John for handling last week’s The Pull List as special guest reviewers. They did a great job, and I’m glad I’ve got backup when I need it!

Pull of the Week:

Giant-Size Wolverine: Old Man Logan One-Shot – Marvel – $4.99

Score: 9.0

965111-wolvgsoml001_dc11_page1_superAnyone who has read the Pull List knows I am not a huge fan of high priced comics, especially when that higher price only comes with a sketchbook or a reprint of an old issue. But this issue, the conclusion to Millar and McNiven’s “Old Man Logan” eight part story was beyond worth it and easily the best $4.99 issue of the entire year. If you hadn’t been following this story, shame on you.

Fifty years in the future and unlike any other seen in Marvel like “Days of the Future Past” or the time-line Bishop traveled from, the villains have won. In one fell swoop, the villains of the world under the leadership of the Red Skull came together and wiped out all the heroes of the world with only a few survivors, most notably Hawkeye and Logan, who is no longer calling himself Wolverine. After a cross country journey to earn the money he owes the Hulk Gang, the descendants of Bruce Banner, Logan returns to find out he was too late to save his family.

This issue gives what looks to be the final showdown between these age old foes. With nothing left to lose, Logan decides that if Banner is responsible for taking away his family, he will return the favor in kind.

No character development was needed in this issue, although some is inserted for Banner who makes his first appearance in this story arc in just this issue. It’s all action here and it is GOOD action. The fight scenes are creative when combining Logan’s covert ops style of taking down opponents to his insane headstrong blood lust against others. McNiven does an amazing job through the entire issue by utilizing the extra pages from the giant sized issue to give tons of beautiful single and double splash pages with everything from Banner’s transformation in to the deformed Hulk to the Hulk taking a bite out of Wolverine.

This isn’t an issue for the faint of heart. Even after fifty years of not popping his claws, Logan shows why he is still the very best at what he once did, which somehow included ripping a cow in two (but don’t worry, as silly as it sounds it makes sense in context). Every bit of this issue shines artistically from the inbred Hulk Gang hanging out at the former Playboy Mansion to Logan’s assault on their trailer park home.

This story is Mark Millar at his finest. Taking the history of the Marvel U and giving it an alternate direction for the next fifty years, he has given a story that captures why people love Wolverine as a character. Much like when Chris Clairemont finally helped bring Wolverine to the forefront of the X-Men world, Millar has recaptured that animalistic fury that people love to associate with the biggest little mutant on the block. There is a heart to the way he writes Logan that isn’t felt in any of the current series featuring him. In Wolverine: Weapon X or Wolverine: Origins, Logan’s inner monologue explains everything for the reader. But here in “Old Man Logan”, the impact of his actions do more than any thought box ever could.

The “Old Man Logan” is a must read for any Marvel fan. Even those who are sick of Wolverine appearing in seemingly every Marvel comic will enjoy this read. The collected trade of this story will be an example of the best storytelling of the past decade of superhero comics and belongs on any bookshelf. Even with delays to reach the end of this tale, it was totally worth the wait.

Other Pulls:

Dark X-Men: The Confession One-Shot – Marvel – $3.99

Score: 5.5

965388-num_risation0005_superDark X-Men: The Confession is one of the most literal titles that could have been brought out. After seeing backroom dealings by both Emma Frost and Cyclops, the two finally have… you guessed it. A confession. In both Uncanny X-Men and last week’s X-Men Legacy Annual which featured a flashback (which is ALSO shown again in this issue), Beast has confronted both Emma and Scott saying that the secrets they hide are destined to tear not only the two of them apart, but the X-Men as well.

When Cyclops first tries to talk to Emma about this, she says she doesn’t want to. Scott wakes up the next morning to find Emma gone and a note saying she has gone off to kill a man and that she probably wouldn’t be coming back. Scott rushes to the door and finds she hasn’t left just yet and pulls her to in a private room where no one can read their thoughts from the outside. What follows is nothing new to anyone who has been reading the main X-titles for the past year. Everything has been spelled out over and over in each title and now is brought back to the forefront again. The only thing new is their reactions to it which don’t feel entirely genuine.

It’s interesting to note that this story takes place before the events of Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Utopia so the Dark X-Men title doesn’t feel entirely appropriate since they didn’t exist yet, nor does Emma’s black Dark X-Men uniform on the cover either.

Bing Casino’s artwork in the issue could best be described as “Standard X-Men”. With the occasional resemblance to how X-Factor has been drawn, there is nothing special about the artwork here save the ever pronounced chest of Emma Frost on the cover of the issue. Character’s eyes are often a huge distraction as they often times appear either beady or have no pupils in them at all.

The Yost / Kyle writing team who have had ups and downs with their run on X-Force experience one of their downs again with this issue. The fact that nothing new of consequence has happened after being built up for months as the “big confession” really leaves the book with a bad taste in the reader’s mouth. The people most likely to purchase this book are the X-Men fans who read all the X-titles. Having to pay $3.99 for a summary of the past year’s events through Scott and Emma’s eyes feels like a jip. But the writers can’t have the blame put solely on them. This book was doomed from the concept as it could have just as easily been a backup story in X-Men Legacy Annual last week instead of dedicating a full book to it.

New Avengers #57 – Marvel – $3.99
Score: 6.0

965107-prv3421_cov_superLast issue, the New Avengers found themselves confronted with the Hood’s cohorts who had gone off on their own without the Hood’s leadership. This gang of B-Listers had constructed a power dampener that shut down both the New Avengers and Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers, including Osborn himself. This issue starts off with a two page spread of the thoughts of Ronin, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage and Bucky-Cap as they struggle to regain consciousness and get back in to the fight.

Sadly, these are the most compelling pages of the issue as it quickly becomes an extended negotiation sequence between Osborn and the Hood’s gang and the escape of the New Avengers, only made possible by Mockingbird as she doesn’t have any actual super powers. As the cover hints, Luke Cage is hit most harshly by the power dampener and begins having heart problems, something that the resident super hero caretaker, the Night Nurse isn’t able to handle as Cage’s skin is unbreakable.

Much like Dark X-Men: The Confession, New Avengers suffers from an issue where not much of consequence really happens. The issue itself reads incredibly quick and has no standout moments within it. Aside from the inner monologues of the Avengers in the first two pages, no real character building occurs and the book has no real action sequences to make up for it. Also detracting from the issue are Stuart Immonen’s pencils which feel as though they were quickly put together and often lack any artistic quality. For the most part, many of the pages lack any level of detail in the faces or bodies of any of the characters and the bland coloring of the issue doesn’t help that either. The flat colors with no shading on top of the rushed pencils make the issue itself feel incomplete and unfinished or, at its best, rushed.

One thing that still also bothers me about this issue is why Ronin is “depowered”. As far as every ready is concerned, Barton has never had powers. As Hawkeye, he was just a skilled archer and fighter but never had formal superpowers. This seems like either a very blatant plot hole for Bendis to fill or a gaping error in storytelling. Though it has been a favorite as of late, this current story arc has been a low point for the New Avengers which it can hopefully pull itself out of soon.

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