Or – “I’m Thirty-Seven, I’m Not OLD!”

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Heh.  Monty Python reference…  Aaaaanywaaaay, I’ve been thinking lately about my reviewing habits, and I’ve decided to break out of any possibly dogmatic way of thinking/reviewing/purchasing and see about what’s happening with books that I wouldn’t necessarily purchase for my own enjoyment.  There’s an inherent trap in only reviewing what you already love, putting you the position of either explaining why you already enjoy something, or worse, defending something you still love that isn’t as good anymore (read any of my recent Birds of Prey reviews for an example of the latter.)  I’ve decided that the place to start our tour of things I usually won’t pay money for is the character emblematic of what went wrong with comics in the 90’s: the mutant cash machine known as Logan.  Admittedly, he’s much more attractive to me as a character now that I know he used to be a prissy mama’s boy in a nightshirt who cried when his claws first came out.  (But it shall be noted that under no circumstances will I be using the term “Wolvie.”)  Mark Millar and Steve McNiven (the men responsible for ‘Civil War’) have decided to give us what could be described as Wolverine’s own ‘Dark Knight Returns,’ proving once again that the future ain’t what it used to be.

Previously, on Wolverine:  How in the name of Aisha Tyler would you think that *I* know?  The last Wolverine comic I read had Elsie Dee in it…  Apparently, it’s the future now?  And Wolverine is all “Woe is Wo1.jpgme, the X-Men are dead, blah blah blah fishcakes?”  And since a one-armed archer has been done, Hawkeye is, like, blind?  The basic setup for this story is that the villains have won (just like ‘Wanted.’)  And that they’ve carved up the United States into invididual territories, that they rule like their personal fiefdoms (just like ‘Wanted.’)  Hawkeye, who apparently married and had sex with Spider-Man’s daughter, is headed for New Babylon, a settlement on the East Coast, and hired Wolverine as his driver and guide (which isn’t like anything I can think of right now.)  For his part, Logan just wants to pay his landlords, a group of jerks called “The Hulk Gang,” the various offspring of Bruce Banner, and tend to his farm in Sacramento, going so far a to make Hawk swear that he won’t have to get involved in any of the violence inherent in the system (sort of like ‘Yojimbo.’)  Help! Help!  Wolverine’s bein’ repressed!  Unfortunately for Logan’s vow of non-violence, Hawkeye has just discovered that his daughter has been captured by the Kingpin, overlord of an area stretching from Idaho to Arizona, and will probably be killed, unless someone gets involved…

The story proper starts in Las Vegas, as Hawkeye’s ex-wife Tonya (daughter of Spider-Man) explains that Hawkeye’s daughter is more than just a captive.  She’s a super-hero now, and is facing execution for crimes against him.  Hawk remarks that she seemed more the “evil badass type,” and Tonya loses her cool, reminding him that their daughter is facing certain death.  Hawkeye swears to save her, and Wolverine once again points out that he will not be fighting.  “The deal was I helped you get to New Babylon.  I ain’t goin’ up against the Kingpin…”  Hawkeye offers to double the money, reminding him that all he has to do is drive the truck, and Logan relents.  “But just so we’re clear,” he says, “I’d rather DIE than pop these claws again.  You understand?”  Before leaving, Tonya’s new man, Ultron 8, gives Wolverine an X-Men keychain for good luck.  Logan has a sudden flashback, remembering the end of the X-Men, before Hawkeye breaks into his reverie.  “Come ON, dude!  Charlie Xavier was faster on his feet!” yells the archer as they set out…

They drive across the ruins of Utah, and Hawkeye finally owns up.  “I still can’t believe she’s actually out there calling herself a superhero…  I am so friggin’ proud.”  They find the town of Cedar City, Utah, mostly submerged into the ground, with a sole survivor on top of a church spire, now only a few feet above the ground.  “Moloids!” he babbles, “they swallowed the whole town.  I climbed and climbed…  but everybody else, they just went under.”  Hawkeye listens, and tells Logan to keep driving.  Wolverine tries to discuss it, but Hawkeye cuts him short.  “Ashley needs us more than HE does.”  In Salt Lake City, we find the truth of that statement, in very visceral fashion.  Two men are shown chained to a post, bleeding and beaten, while a voice announces to a watching crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Daredevil and the Punisher…  two of those three superheroes who waltzed into town to save everyone from the Kingpin of Crime!”  The new Kingpin reveals himself, and releases the hounds…  Well, velociraptors, I think.  The thunder lizards quickly kill and eat the new heroes (they ain’t Murdock and Castle, for certain) and Kingpin enjoys the cheers.  While he revels in his control of the masses, Logan and Barton watch from afar.  They quickly pinpoint the location of L’il Ashley Hawkeye, and Wolverine again explains why he won’t fight.  “Relax, powder puff,” says Hawkeye.  “All you’ve got to do is drive.”

We see Ashley in her cell, wearing a trampy version of Grampa Parker’s webs, making me think that something is wrong already, then we suddenly cut to Wolverine and Hawkeye driving at full speed across the side of a building, crashing into the holding cell at 200 miles an hour.  (Here’s where my “Uhh… yeah” response kicked in full tilt.)  “That’ll be dad,” says Ashley, as Hawkeye leaps into action, slicing and dicing the guards, pinpointing their locations by their constant yelling.  Ashley yells the location of the control pane to her cell, and Hawkeye shoots out the system, and the laser bars dissolve.  Ashley leaps out just as the Kingpin arrives, and CUTS HIS HEAD OFF with one swing of a handy weapon.  She then attacks her own blind father, as Hawk gapes in disbelief.  “What are you going?” he cries.  “What I came here to do… seize control of the Kingpin’s Quarter.”  She raises her weapon to kill her dad, and we cut to Wolverin watching in silent rage.  “Damn you to hell for making me do this, Hawkeye…” he mutters as we fade to black.

Hmm…  I don’t quite know what to make of this issue.  A pacifist Wolverine, one who only wants to pay his rent and be left alone is kind of interesting, in a Spaghetti Western kinda way, but the story seemingly makes it obvious that he’s going to have to give up his vow of non-violence to save his brother from Chin-Wa who won’t let him get rice cakes for father Hawkeye from his own murderous spawn.  Even having not read the first two issues of the story, there’s still a pretty clear idea of what’s going on here, and everything that needs to be spelled out is spelled out, barring a strange bit about the Moloids being Earth’s immune system and destroying the human infestation.  As for the art (by Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines) it’s pretty good, though my usual complaint of McNiven’s bulldog faces still shows up periodically.  The big swerve at the end was a bit telegraphed, but still nicely executed and Ashley’s murder of the Kingpin on panel did give me a bit of a shock.  I don’t know if it’s the overall effect of yet another dystopian future (there is a familiarity to it all, especially if you’ve read ‘The Last Avengers Story’ or ‘Future Imperfect’) or the fact that the main character isn’t all that fascinating to me, but I’m ambivalent.  What they’re doing is inteesting, certainly, and I like the use of Hawkeye rather than one of the more obvious X-Men characters, but I’m kind of feeling like I’ve seen this story before.  Wolverine #68 earns a better-than-expected 2.5 out of 5 stars, but still leaves me with mixed feelings.  I’m probably overthinking it, but I think I’d have preferred a story that can only be told with Wolverine, even if I wasn’t the target audience for it…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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6 Comments

  1. Maximus Rift
    September 16, 2008 at 10:32 am — Reply

    You know, I’ve had it with dystopian futures. I’ve had it with the whole “villains win” stories. I’m not opposed to having some, but it seems to me like it’s the new status-quo of the Big 2. I’m actually expecting Image to announce how their universe is going down the toilet.

    Can I please have a possitive superhero story that isn’t meant for children.

  2. DanLikesBeer
    September 16, 2008 at 10:58 am — Reply

    Wow. That has to be the worst review I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t even classify it as a review. More like a sarcastic recap in a whiny voice.

    Reviewing a book that’s in the middle of a story arc, when you haven’t read the first 2 issues just illustrates you didn’t give a crap to begin with.

    Go back to reviewing stuff you ‘love’, nobody got anything out of that.

  3. Brad Ball
    September 16, 2008 at 2:59 pm — Reply

    Actually i’m really glad you reviewed it, yes Dan I could tell it wasn’t his normal pick but that was the point.

    I’ve collected Wolverine in the past, and have been tempted to pick up this arc, seeing as how it’s a couple issues in I was thinking of waiting for the Trade to be release.

    Matthew stated very clearly that this wasn’t something he would normally enjoy, that tells me that his 2.5 is probably a 3 to 3.5 for a fan of Wolverine.

    I’m just happy to see the review.

  4. Ricco
    September 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm — Reply

    I have not read a single issue I can guess that the big plot twist is that a mind controlled Wolverine killed all the heores thinking they were vilains.

  5. September 16, 2008 at 7:46 pm — Reply

    Wow. That has to be the worst review I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t even classify it as a review. More like a sarcastic recap in a whiny voice.

    Reviewing a book that’s in the middle of a story arc, when you haven’t read the first 2 issues just illustrates you didn’t give a crap to begin with.

    Go back to reviewing stuff you ‘love’, nobody got anything out of that.

    Thanks for your feedback, Dan. Since you’re new here, let me spell out a couple of things quickly. There is generally nothing personal about my reviews. I explained my biases up front, so caveat emptor. Second, my writing style is sarcastic, even when reviewing something I love. Third, and most important, I speak only for me, you speak only for you. Stating that “nobody” got anything out of that is disengenuous, adversarial, and ultimately serves only your need for the quick burn…

    Feel free to stick around and see what else pops up this week…

  6. September 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm — Reply

    Actually i’m really glad you reviewed it, yes Dan I could tell it wasn’t his normal pick but that was the point.

    I’ve collected Wolverine in the past, and have been tempted to pick up this arc, seeing as how it’s a couple issues in I was thinking of waiting for the Trade to be release.

    Matthew stated very clearly that this wasn’t something he would normally enjoy, that tells me that his 2.5 is probably a 3 to 3.5 for a fan of Wolverine.

    I’m just happy to see the review.

    I freely admit that I don’t “get” Wolverine. This wasn’t a bad issue by any means, but it certainly wasn’t a world-changing look at the underlying paradigms of comics, nor was it even the best Wolverine story I’ve ever read. It is what it is: a well-done Very Special Issue by star creators, the comics equivalent of sweeps week, and a large portion of the story felt very familiar.

    Had friends and coworkers not hyped this to me as the most important Wolverine story in recent memory, maybe I’d feel differently, but there you go…

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