“Old Man Logan” was, almost to its detriment, a slow burner. Millar made readers wait eight solid issues for Wolverine to unsheathe his claws, and then a further wait followed for this, the climactic chapter, in which he actually uses them. With Logan’s family dead — killed for fun by the Hulk clan — there’s no longer anything left for Logan to lose, and his story will end the same way it started: by fighting the Incredible Hulk.
Millar plays up the “Western” elements of the story, with Wolverine as the returning, redemptive hero. It’s not especially subtle with the imagery — Wolverine wears a Stetson and a duster, and rides a horse in the course of the story — but it’s perfectly in keeping with the influences shown prior to this issue. The ending couldn’t really have gone any other way than how it does, so the majority of the fun is in watching those events play out.
“Old Man Logan” was never exactly Shakespeare, but the more willfully brainless excesses of Millar’s writing are left confined to the earlier chapters. This final entry comes in strong, both in terms of the character material and action. Even with years of pacifism behind him, Wolverine is still as efficiently ruthless as ever, and that’s what gets emphasized while the more outlandish ideas are played down. If Venom-Dinosaurs and the Spider-Mobile weren’t your idea of a good comic (and lord knows they weren’t mine) then there’s nothing that ridiculous to deal with — although fans of the more bizarre elements won’t be upset either, because Wolverine does rip a cow in half and get eaten by the Hulk for some perfectly valid story reasons.
The ending does initially seem designed for a sequel, but perceptive followers of Millar’s work will notice that we already know how the story of Wolverine and the Hulk’s last remaining child play out. Finally, Millar’s promise the he’d tie together Fantastic Four, 1985 and Old Man Logan has been made good upon, and although inessential to the story, it makes for a nice piece of bonus material for those who can spot it.
But still — enough about the story. This is really the comic book equivalent of an action movie, and people don’t watch action movies for the writing. They watch them for the bit at the end where everything kicks into high gear and the real eye candy gets broken out; That’s exactly what happens in this issue. There might not be much going on beneath the surface of the page, but McNiven’s artwork ensures that the surface is so beautiful that you don’t want to look past it anyway. Virtually every page McNiven draws could be blown up and used as a poster, and every panel is as detailed as it is cinematic. Even the fact that most of the issue consists of Logan tearing through generic Hulk offspring can’t dull the excitement and energy. If only all superhero comics looked this good.
The fact that the art is the emphasis is made clear by the choice of production material that rounds out the page count. You won’t find script extracts and plot notes, but instead pencils, inks, and logo-free covers. One questionable note is whether those extras seem worth a $2 price hike. The story itself is only 10 pages longer than usual, and many of those extras aren’t necessarily new enough to justify being paid for.
Old Man Logan might not quite be the classic it could’ve been, but there’s no denying that it’s gone out with a bang. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the story overall, but this final chapter is difficult to hate — if you don’t like watching Wolverine successfully hack his way through his enemies, then frankly, you don’t like Wolverine. That may be all that this issue is, but in the case of Wolverine, well, that should be enough.