Old Man Logan has droves of fans in the comic community, but the truth is you don’t find a more uninspired, by-the-numbers story than this one.
Have you seen 1992’s Unforgiven? Because Old Man Logan is a cheap impression of Unforgiven.
Mark Millar is an excellent writer, and Steve McNiven’s art was amazing, but overall, it was not a special read.
We’ve seen the trope many times before. The grizzled warrior changes his ways and embarks on a life of pacifism only to be forced to use his deadly skills when all other options run out. Let’s see, what movies come to mind that had a similar theme? Aside from Unforgiven, there’s a History of Violence, The Patriot, the Netflix Punisher series, and even Shane all feature protagonists who are violent men wanting to leave their sins behind and live out a peaceful existence. And those are only the ones I just thought of.
The premise that the bad guys have won and the world is turned upside down isn’t anything new, either. We saw it in Days of Future Past, and the Hulk’s Future Imperfect utilized a very similar approach in its storytelling. Let’s face it, almost every DC summer crossover event features the “all-is-lost” cliche where Earth has become a living Hell and the villains are winning. For that matter, Marvel pulled this off with Dark Reign in 2009.
The real kicker for me when I first read Old Man Logan was the Hulk Gang (aka, the Hulkbillies). Not only did Millar take the Hulk and strip him of basically everything that made him a beloved character, but he turned him into an incestuous cannibal. We’ve got his children, complete with stereotypical trucker hats and mustaches, who are the cliche bullies of the land (because you can’t have a story about a main character with a violent past swearing off violence only to be forced to use said violence without some bullies). We feel bad for Logan as he is kicked around and made into a punching bag, but we all know that the day will come when the bullies push him too far.
As one cliche leads into another, Logan is offered a chance to use his old skills (the same ones he’s trying to lay to rest) to help his family. And to no one’s surprise, he is forced back into the savage world of violence only to find that, deep down, that is his true nature.
The ending was so bad it made me laugh. The Hulk eats Old Man Logan – after we get to see a Bruce Banner who seems to have walked straight out of Deliverance minus the banjos – and thinks the battle is won. Then Logan unsheathes his claws and tears his way out of the Hulk, ripping him apart from the inside. This is where Millar went from emulating Clint Eastwood to crossing into Quentin Tarantino territory.
In the end, people will always love stories of the hero who is more savage than his adversaries, but this one was simply too blatant a rip off of Unforgiven plus every other cliche imaginable. It was like Millar had a checklist that he worked his way through as he wrote Old Man Logan. The saving grace is McNiven’s art, which is stellar.