A Logan Review – Old Man Stabby

Logan, 2017, Hugh Jackman, posterTITLE: Logan
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, Boyd Holbrook
DIRECTOR: James Mangold
STUDIOS: 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, Kinberg Genere, Hutch Parker Entertainment, The Donners’ Company
RATING: R
RUN-TIME: 137 min
RELEASED: 
March 3, 2017

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

If you’re a fan of the X-Men film series, Logan is in many ways a frustrating film. It’s very much the expressionistic, character-driven piece it sets out to be. But the Wolverine character is heavily defined by the world he’s in. A world filled with prejudice toward super-powered mutants. In Logan, that world has been heavily altered. While we all love Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, what this movie really could have used was a little more world-building.

In the year 2029, mutantkind has been nearly eradicated. Logan, the man formerly known as Wolverine, is one of the last ones alive. In his care is a frail Charles Xavier, suffering from dementia and seizures. Logan isn’t exactly in great health himself. But danger once again finds our clawed hero, this time in the form of a young girl named Laura. Like Logan, she has adamantium claws, healing powers, and a deadly temper. She is hunted by Transigen, the group responsible for wiping out mutantkind. And if they have their way, Logan, Charles, and this mysterious girl are next.

Comic book fans know Logan is somewhat based on Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Old Man Logan book. That story features a gray-haired Logan in a world conquered by supervillains. The first lines in the very first panel are: “No one knows what happened on the night the heroes fell. All we know is that they disappeared and evil triumphed and the bad guys have been calling the shots ever since.”

logan-image-1-hugh-jackman-dafne-keenThere’s very little information like this in Logan. Information that helps us define the different world we see these familiar characters in. I’m not of the belief that absolutely everything needs to be spelled out for the audience. But the memory of the X-Men team is very much a part of this movie. It even implies that a new generation will pick up where Logan and the others left off. So wouldn’t it be helpful to tell us what happened to the X-Men? Were they all hunted down and killed by Transigen? Was there a big battle, like in Old Man Logan? We don’t have to comb through the roster one by one. But for instance, Logan loved Jean Grey. That could have been used to prompt a line or two about how she and some of the others died.

Instead, the film is chipped away at by these questions about how the established characters got to where they are, and who some of these new characters are. We do get allusions to a tragic event involving the widespread telepathic side-effects of one of Xavier’s seizes in Westchester, New York. To the uninitiated, Westchester was the home of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and home base to the X-Men. So it’s reasonable to assume that’s where many of them died. But casual moviegoers won’t know that. Hell, I’m fairly versed in X-Men lore and it took me awhile to put it together.

logan-image-2-hugh-jackman-dafne-keenHalf the potential of a story like this lies in exploring the dystopian future, and how we got there. Logan doesn’t do much of that, and the movie suffers for it.

Still, Logan is indeed the R-rated Wolverine flick many have waited for. The movie takes full advantage of its expanded parameters. We see severed limbs aplenty, gallons of spilled blood, claw shots through the face, and plenty of F-bombs. If this really is Hugh Jackman’s last go-around as Wolverine, he goes out in a blaze of bloody and cathartic glory.

Jackman’s claim that this is the last time he’ll pop the claws is a downer for sure. In 17 years, he’s played the character seven times. Nine if you count his brief uncredited appearances in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse. He’s left an indelible mark on the character and the X-Men franchise as a whole, bringing tremendous depth and likability in addition to the berserker rage that fans love. What’s more, I’m not ready to fully rule Jackman out of another appearance in the role. He’s publicly flirted with coming back for certain scenarios, and it’s not like he’s been typecast. He was Jean Valjean, for crying out loud. More importantly, he’s a proven and highly lucrative commodity in that role. It’s show business, folks. Anything is possible.

logan-hugh-jackman-patrick-stewartPerhaps less publicized is that Logan is perhaps Patrick Stewart’s last time playing Charles Xavier. Something else this movie has going for it is the novelty of ol’ Captain Picard dropping a few F-bombs. Why the hell not?

Dafne Keen makes her film debut here as Laura, a.k.a. X-23. Not a bad way to make your entrance, with Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart at your side. She’s quite the find. Keen doesn’t speak for most of the movie, and has to convey a quiet rage beyond her years. She becomes the perfect mini-Wolverine.

There’s been a good amount of talk about Logan defying the genre of superhero movies. While I maintain this genre is more versatile than people give it credit for, Logan feels unlike most, if not any superhero movie you’ve ever seen. At one point, Xavier and Laura are watching Shane. That’s extremely fitting, given the movie’s clear influence on Logan. Mangold has also talked about The Cowboys starring John Wayne, and The Gauntlet with Clint Eastwood. Oddly enough, he’s also mentioned Little Miss Sunshine and The Wrestler.

logan-image-3-hugh-jackmanLogan is hardly the most satisfying installment in the X-Men franchise. But it’s absolutely the most unique. There’s an undeniable thrill and catharsis to seeing Jackman rage out as Wolverine, potentially for the last time. From a performance standpoint, he absolutely sticks the landing here. Though that should come as surprise to absolutely no one.

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A Death of Wolverine #1 Review – Old Story, New Consequences

Death of Wolverine #1, 2014TITLE: Death of Wolverine #1
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
PENCILLER: Steve McNiven
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: September 3, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

While I haven’t exactly had my eye on the man called Logan lately, two elements attracted me to Death of Wolverine. Firstly, the notion that it would be a (more or less) self-contained story, told in four weekly issues. You wouldn’t need to do any research or back tracking to get into the story, and it wouldn’t drag like a lot of event comics do. Secondly, Charles Soule is the writer. Soule impressed me with this work on Superman/Wonder Woman, so I was interested to him work with Wolvie in a story that’s pivotal, to say the least.

When we open the book, Logan has lost his healing power. The issue doesn’t dive into the how and the why of it, it simply sets that notion on the table and keeps moving. (FYI, Logan got infected with a virus that suppressed the ability.) But now that our hero is vulnerable, a price has been put on his head and the bad guys are coming out of the woodwork to take him down. The question is, who has their sights set on Logan? Who is it that’s put him in harm’s way like never before? We find out at the end of this issue, and it’s someone we know quite well.

Death of Wolverine #1, interior, 2014, Steve McNivenOf course, Death of Wolverine isn’t a new concept by any means. There’ve been a lot of “Logan fights his way through a lot of people” stories before. Hell, a few years ago we actually had Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine. So it’s not an uncommon story motif. And let’s not even get into superhero deaths. Coming into Death of Wolverine, we’re not even asking who or what will kill him, but rather how long he’ll actually stay dead. Still, the Wolverine vs. The World plot is as good as any to use if you’re going to kill off Logan. It’s a perfect way to give us some of his trademark violence and rage along the way.

We open the issue with a quiet scene, a calm before the storm (shown left). The reveal on pages four and five then gives us a strong sense of foreboding, and just what that storm will consist of. Soule stays pretty quiet from a narration standpoint, letting McNiven’s art do the talking. Considering the character we’re dealing with, and the quality of artist we have, that’s a wise move.

Soule also uses red, one-word caption boxes with white lettering to indicate intense pain, which Logan isn’t used to feeling the way normal people do. He simply tosses a body part out there (“Neck, “”Head,” etc) and lets the reader fill in the blanks. I’m interested to see how this trend progresses as we get closer to Logan’s demise.

Death of Wolverine #1, Steve McNiven, Logan, NukeOur villain for the issue is Nuke, a character created during Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil run. I’d just as soon not talk about Miller after Sin City: A Dame To Kill For bombed so badly. But the character serves his purpose here. He’s a meathead and a brute for Logan to beat up and get information from. He’s the kind of character Logan wouldn’t necessarily bat an eye over if he was his normal self. But now a fight with Nuke takes a different toll. Plus, McNiven and the artists make him look pretty good.

While it’s hardly a work of stunning originality, Death of Wolverine does what it sets out to do: Make me want to see how Logan dies. Soule’s writing rings true to the character, and the art sets the tone nicely. I’m curious to see where we go from here.

Image 1 from comicbookresources.com. Image 2 from author’s collection. 

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First Impressions: Savage Wolverine #1

Savage Wolverine #1, 2013, Frank ChoTITLE: Savage Wolverine #1
AUTHOR/PENCILLER: Frank Cho
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 16, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not sure if I’m any more of a Wolverine fan after reading the debut issue of Savage Wolverine. But I’m a Shanna the She-Devil fan for sure!

After Shanna and handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents crash into the Savage Land during a cartography mission, Wolverine is dispatched to save them. But the Savage Land lives up to its name, as Wolvie faces off against hostile natives, and even a few cranky dinosaurs.

Frank Cho’s amazingly gorgeous art is almost enough of a reason on its own to pick Savage up. His rendition of Shanna the She-Devil is pure cheesecake. Particularly enjoyable was the full page, full body profile shot of our muscular and powerful, yet most definitely feminine heroine laid out against a page consisting largely of white space, with panels depicting the S.H.I.E.L.D group’s predicament almost extending from her body. It’s a gorgeous page. Though I’m not expecting my girlfriend (or anybody‘s girlfriend for that matter) to be much of a Shanna fan after this issue.

Savage Wolverine #1, 2013The way Cho plays with white space in his layouts is also very interesting. Whether he uses it to draw focus to certain things, such as the lovely Shanna in the aforementioned page, or simply as a way to guide readers through the layout, it makes for a very interesting visual journey.

The curious thing about the story being told, at least at this point, is that despite having his name on the book, Wolverine doesn’t really need to be there. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Cho could simply have made this a Shanna the She-Devil story about survival in the Savage Land. The only reason Wolverine seems to be there is to make the story more marketable to casual fans. Mind you, we’re only one chapter in. But that’s the vibe I’m getting so far.

The Logan we get from Cho juxtaposes the character’s trademark penchant for blood and violence with a relaxed, analytical side one might expect from a hero with this much experience. When we first see him, he’s analyzing his surroundings, drawing conclusions based on the climate and the presence of things like volcanic ash. Then he tangles with a dinosaur. Moments later, we see him label a group of natives as neanderthals based on the spread of their toes. And then he’s chopping their limbs off. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect from a book called Savage Wolverine, but it’s interesting to watch nevertheless.Whether readers will enjoy this issue likely depends on their level of enjoyment for Cho’s art. For Cho’s fans, this is a can’t miss book. For Wolverine fans, the verdict is still out.

Image 1 from speakgeekytome.com.

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