Wolverine isn’t just on his way back to the Marvel Universe, he’s here. He’s been flitting around in the background for a few months thanks to his newly acquired Space Stone, but as of this week’s Infinity Countdown Prime #1, he’s back in the fray and things are only going to get worse before they get better for the old Canucklehead.
In May, there are four new miniseries starting featuring the heroes of the Marvel Universe searching for Wolverine in their own ways and he’s front and center on the publisher's recent “Fresh Start” promo image, but what does that mean for the Logan we already have running around the Marvel Universe?
Ain’t No Grave
Old Man Logan has been floating around the Marvel Universe for over two years now. He got his own territory hopping Secret Wars miniseries which ended with him joining the fight against God Doom and the result of that was Logan waking up in present day Manhattan, worlds away from his own time.
In those two years, he’s grown a lot as a person after getting over the initial hump of accepting that this world was already different from his own, and that things weren’t going to work out the same. He joined the X-Men and remembered how it felt to be a hero; however, it looks like the light might be setting on the elder Logan, with May’s solicits pointing to his healing factor not quite working right, thus hinting at a possible final fate for the old timer on the horizon.
It would make a certain sort of sense to kill off Old Man Logan. Last year’s feature film which was heavily inspired by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s original story ended with the heroic and heartbreaking death of Hugh Jackman’s incarnation of the character and Marvel would be wise to lean into that. The problem is that the goodwill here isn’t there on anywhere near the same level. That’s not to say people don’t like Old Man Logan -- come May, his title will be closing in on fifty issues -- but people haven’t spent over fifteen years with the character in the hopes of seeing him receive a touching of a send off. Instead, it might make more sense to let him ride off into the sunset with his head held high.
It’s so very rare for Wolverine to get a happy ending. If he gets married, the woman usually gets killed, turns evil, or both. If he tries to step away from the superhero life, he gets pulled back in one way or another, usually because someone he loves is dead or in danger. There’s so much death in comics, and so many dour endings, it would be refreshing to see Old Man Logan get a much more pleasant farewell. Plus, there’s enough Wolverines running around — Normal Age Logan, Laura, Gabby, Daken, Jimmy Hudson, just to name a few — that he can safely leave the Marvel Universe in their hands without the sense of responsibility that often bogs Logan down.
Just because his younger incarnation has returned, it doesn’t mean Old Man Logan needs to die and if anything, it could present a great storytelling opportunity for the returned Wolverine. He’s been through so much, so many alternate realities and possible futures, but he’s never seen one where he gets to be happy. Giving the elder Logan a positive send-off could show the younger one that such a future is possible for him and give him back some of the joie de vivre that he’s been missing for so long. Death is played out in comics, the only way to shock people now is to keep characters alive, so let’s keep Old Man Logan alive and really shake-up what readers expect from superhero narratives.