Wolverine's latest big screen adventure -- "Logan" -- is killing it with fans and critics alike. Set in a post-super-hero world, the flick is being praised for its gritty and heart-wrenching depiction of the clawed Canadian. Equal parts grim, bleak and brutal, "Logan" might be a first for superhero cinema, but it owes its tone to a story that came out almost a decade ago.
"Wolverine: Old Man Logan" from writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, was the first time an old and weary Wolverine had featured in his own story. Set in a post-superhero future where the supervillains had won, the bitter tale followed an elderly Wolverine as he went on a cross-country road trip with Hawkeye for some extra cash to pay off Logan's gamma-powered landowners. Although melancholy in tone, "Old Man Logan" was full of explosive action and many truly memorable moments. Join us as we count down 15 of the best from Millar and McNiven's iconic story line.
SPOILER ALERT: The following list contains spoilers for "Wolverine" #66-72 and "Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant Size."
As well as an elderly Wolverine, "Old Man Logan" also treated us to a ragged Hawkeye. Acting as an optimistic foil to Logan's constant pessimism and objections is the former Avenger and master archer. Largely ignored by the supervillains after their ascent to power, the Hawkeye of this broken future is blind and more unhinged than his other incarnations. Even without his eyesight, the Hawkeye of "Old Man Logan" is an efficient killing machine.
This is revealed in the story's second chapter, when Logan and Hawkeye are attacked by a gang of bikers who call themselves "The Ghost Riders." Since Logan is no help in the fight -- when the story opens he has taken an oath not to pop his claws or hurt another living soul -- Hawkeye is forced to step up to the plate and easily dispatches the thugs. Using only his sense of hearing, the archer sends a swift arrow through each of the biker's heads.
Like the name implies, the Spider-Mobile can do whatever a spider can. Built by Johnny Storm, the Spider-Mobile is Logan and Hawkeye's ride on their road trip through the supervillain ruled wasteland that America has become. Although it may look like just a regular open-topped jeep -- albeit with Spider-Man's red and webbed motif -- The Spider-Mobile saves Wolverine and Logan more than a few times during the pages of "Wolverine: Old Man Logan."
Gifted with spider-like grip, this handy vehicle is able to drive directly up vertical surfaces. Logan and Hawkeye use this ability a few times: first to escape the subterranean lair of some rabid moloids and later when Logan is forced to rescue Clint from his murderous daughter -- who, as luck would have it, fancies herself the new Spider-Man. Not too sluggish on the flat road either, Logan and Hawkeye also use the car to outrun a Venom-powered T-Rex... but more on that later.
One of the most interesting and intriguing parts of the original "Old Man Logan" story was how the heroes of the regular Marvel Universe fit into the post-apocalyptic wasteland Millar and McNiven had created. Although Thor was nowhere to be seen in the story, his hammer made a notable appearance. In the story's second chapter, Logan and Hawkeye arrive in "Hammer Falls," Nevada. As well as being home to Hawkeye's ex-wife, the bustling settlement plays host to the God of Thunder's magical hammer, Mjolnir.
Mjolnir rests in the centre of the town, surrounded by a flock of devout pilgrims who all worship and pray to the magic hammer. The number one tourist attraction in all of America, the fallen god's weapon of choice attracts pilgrims from far and wide, eager for the day when their beloved super-heroes will return. Not only a stunning visual centrepiece, the fallen Mjolnir is a strong symbol of what "Old Man Logan" is all about.
In the world of "Old Man Logan," the robotic enemy of the avengers is a humble car mechanic working in "Hammer Falls," Nevada. Nothing like his villainous regular universe counterpart, Ultron 8 is polite and surprisingly helpful. Appearing in the waning pages of "Old Man Logan's" second chapter, Ultron 8 runs into Logan and Hawkeye as the pair are passing through "Hammer Falls." Relieved to see Hawkeye, Ultron 8 urges him to speak to Tonya, who happens to be Hawkeye's third ex-wife.
After speaking with his ex, Hawkeye finds out his daughter is in danger and is being imprisoned by the Kingpin. Determined to make up for being a lousy father, Hawkeye convinces Logan to help him rescue his daughter in what will almost certainly be a suicide mission. Before they leave "Hammer Falls" to embark on the rescue mission, Ultron 8 hands Logan a good luck token; a small key-ring emblazoned with a black X on a bright-red background.
"Wolverine: Old Man Logan" ends and begins with the same striking image: a rugged looking Logan riding a horse. Clad in a long duster jacket, leather boots and a wide-brimmed hat, Wolverine in "Old Man Logan" is rebranded as a retired X-man; a grizzled wasteland warrior. Although not a specific moment as such, the image of cowboy Logan on horseback is very much a visual representation of the story's tone and appeal, particularly as this story is known as Wolverine meets "Unforgiven."
Indeed, the genius of Millar and McNiven's tale is how it takes the familiar trappings of the Marvel Universe and gives them all the "Mad Max" treatment. The bad guys are barbaric and cruel, the good guys are jaded and weary, and everyone else is just doing their best not to end up dead. No other image really sums this up -- as well as injecting a little bit of hope into this bitter narrative -- better then a dust covered Logan riding into the sunset on his trusty steed.
On their journey to "New Babylon," Logan and Clint meet a particularly business-minded hero in the form of the "new" Ant-Man. Although only just a kid, this new Ant-Man guards a bridge, demanding that anyone wishing to cross pays him the hefty toll of 80 cents. Failure to pay up will result in being attacked by ferocious hordes of ants. Although not officially handed the mantle, the new Ant-Man -- who goes by the name of Dwight -- wears one of Hank Pym's old helmets and claims that he can command the tiny insects.
Although Logan doesn't see the point of paying Dwight -- given that he is, after all, just a small child and not at all intimidating -- Hawkeye humors the young hero and pays the toll. No doubt to add a little darkness to an otherwise light moment, the scene ends on a shot of a pile of skulls underneath Dwight's bridge. Turns out 80 cents is a small price to pay to be spared the wrath of Ant-Man!
In the twisted future of "Old Man Logan," Salt Lake City's Rice-Eccles Stadium -- as well as a large chunk of the United States -- is controlled by the Kingpin. Instead of using the stadium for its intended purpose or simply leaving it to decay, the criminal mastermind uses the sporting arena as his own personal colosseum; a stage to enact vengeance on those who would dare defy him.
When we first meet Kingpin in "Old Man Logan," he watches on as two rookie heroes -- one dressed like Daredevil, the other dressed like the Punisher -- are chained up in the center of the stadium and left to a pack of rabid velociraptors. Not surprisingly, the ravenous dinos make short work of the costumed vigilantes, tearing them apart in a blood-drenched frenzy. Although a brutal sport, Kingpin's "subjects" -- for lack of a better word -- love it; cheering loudly as the crime-fighting pair become dino-chow. In this quick scene, Millar and McNiven remind us just how brutal this future world can really be.
In a book full of fun ideas and refreshing takes on Marvel's characters, they don't get much better than Millar and McNiven's truly inspired use of the Venom symbiote. Appearing on the last page of "Old Man Logan's" fifth chapter, the alien costume has found a new host in the form of a T-rex. That's right a freaking T-Rex. As if a regular T-Rex wouldn't have been dangerous enough, now it does whatever a psychotic spider can!
In a somewhat predictable turn of events, the Venom-enhanced T-rex chases Hawkeye and Logan through the dusty waste-lands of a supervillain controlled United states. Although Hawkeye tries his best to dispatch the beast with a couple of rounds from the Spider-Car's mini-gun, it's of little use against the combined might of Venom and the most ferocious of the dinosaurs! Sure, Logan and Hawkeye almost don't make it out of the encounter alive, but at least we get one hell of a chase scene.
One of the most spectacular battles that takes place in the pages of "Old Man Logan," happens between the previously mentioned Venom-enhanced T-Rex and the Inhuman king, Black Bolt. A relatively brief encounter, the king of the Inhumans takes down the rabid dinosaur with a single word -- "stop." With this simple utterance Black Bolt's sonic shockwave turns the Venom Symbiote into scattered patches of black goo and knocks the T-rex off its feet.
Black Bolt's appearance couldn't have come at a better time for Hawkeye and Logan, who were being pursued by the angry dinosaur. As it often does in "Old Man Logan," McNiven's art really shines in this sequence. Through a double page spread, he perfectly encapsulates the scale and drama of the conflict, rendering in great detail the exact moment the Venom Symbiote is ripped from the T-rex. When it comes to pure visual spectacle, this moment really can't be beat.
Equal parts breathtaking and heartbreaking, the fate of Hank Pym is one of "Old Man Logan's" many visual gems. Like "Hammer Falls" before it, the place called "Pym Falls" marks where Avengers team member Hank Pym died in the so-called "Super-Hero Holocaust." Significantly less subtle than Thor's resting place, "Pym Falls" features Pym's colossal skeleton splayed over a snowy hillside. Take our word for it when we say it's kind of hard to miss.
Obviously in his "Giant-Man" form when he was slain, Pym's over-sized skeleton makes for a stunning double-page spread. Lying with his skeletal hand over a busy highway, seeing what happened to Pym makes for a somber moment in an otherwise action-packed and brutal book. As well as revealing what happened to Pym, the gorgeous double-page spread is a showcase for McNivens art. His tight line-work and detailed backgrounds are on full display in this visual highlight from a very visually impressive book.
Unlike a lot of the picks in this list -- which were chosen for their novel ideas or explosive action -- this one gets in based on pure shock value. For the first half of "Old Man Logan," we are haunted by a mystery; what on earth happened that turned the ferocious Wolverine into the weary pacifist known as Logan? In the story's fifth chapter, we finally get our answer... and it is not pretty.
Playing out in a graphic flashback is the day Wolverine slaughtered the other X-men; carving his former teammates to a bloody pulp with his Adamantium claws. Of course, it's not as simple as that -- it turns out the supervillains (specifically Spider-Man's old nemesis, Mysterio) tricked him into turning on his teammates, but Logan still blames himself for the atrocity. Racked with guilt and unable to live with what he had done, he let a freight train run over his head until Wolverine was all gone; leaving only Logan.
"Wolverine: Old Man Logan" takes a turn for the utterly awesome when Logan trades in his Adamantium for iron. Well, Iron Man's armor that is! In the closing chapters of Millar and McNiven's epic tale, Logan finds himself out-numbered and out-gunned by S.H.E.I.L.D agents -- who, in this cruel world, work for the Red Skull. Fortunately for Logan, he happens to be trapped smack-bang in the middle of Red Skull's trophy room.
Cornered and with no choice but to fight for his life, Logan grabs ol' shell head's armor and treats the agents to a round of repulsor blasts. Needless to say, things don't end well for anyone who isn't Logan. Always the energy efficient rig, even after the encounter, Tony Stark's suit has enough juice to take flight. With a suitcase of cash in hand, Logan uses the remaining battery to take him home to his family. It's just a pity they are all dead by the time he gets there.
As you can tell in the last sentence of the previous entry, "Old Man Logan" is a grim book. Almost all the good guys are dead, the world is a wasteland and the little that isn't totally ruined is run by the bad guys. Yep, it's a bleak scenario, but it means in the brief moments the good guys do win, it matters that much more. One of these joyous moments happens when Logan fights and kills the Red Skull.
After being mistaken for a corpse and brought to the Red Skull's mansion in "New Babylon" -- formerly the White House in Washington, DC -- Wolverine makes short work of Captain America's Nazi foe. Although initially the Red Skull's fight, Logan manages to get the upper hand when he grabs Captain America's shield. What follows is easily the most satisfying moment in "Wolverine: Old Man Logan" as Logan uses the Vibranium disk to chop Skull's head clean off. Finally, a point for the good guys!
Although they have certainly fought before -- and no doubt will again -- Logan and Hulk's fight in "Old Man Logan" feels especially bitter. That's probably because in this far-flung hell-scape, the Hulk just isn't unstable or uncontrollable, he is a straight-up villain. To make matters worse, Bruce Banner -- usually Hulk's conscience and tether to humanity -- is just as evil, his mind warped and twisted from radiation sickness.
Even in his old and ragged state, the Hulk makes short work of Wolverine, overpowering him and eating him alive. This, of course, creates a problem, as, thanks to the healing factor, Logan can't really die -- well he can, but it will take a lot more than turning him into dinner! After regenerating inside the Hulk's stomach, Logan cuts his way out. Emerging from the belly of the beast in a flurry of flesh and gastrointestinal fluids, Logan gives a new meaning to the phrase "digestive troubles!"
In "Wolverine: Old Man Logan," one simple sound effect releases five issues worth of tension and anticipation. When we first meet Logan, he is wracked with guilt from accidentally slaughtering his X-Men teammates and has made a secret oath to never harm a living soul again. As the story progress, it's hard to watch as the former hero gets hurt over and over again, refusing to lift a finger to defend himself.
In the final pages of the story's penultimate chapter, he finally breaks this oath he took to never pop his claws. With one very memorable "SNIKT," he puts the misguided promise beside him and lets his six inbuilt adamantium blades go free once more. What immediately follows is a brutal slaughter sequence as the re-invigorated Wolverine hacks apart every Hulk offspring he can get his clawed hands on. What can we say? It's one hell of a pay off.
What was your favorite moment from "Old Man Logan," the comic? Let us know in the comments!