Thursday, March 06, 2008

Logan #1: A Review

This is what I hoped Wolverine: Origins might have been like. It wasn't. But this is what they call a very good comic.

Logan is Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso's love letter to Wolverine, and it begins with a snow-covered landscape, a few ominously-treaded footprints, and a narration which begins "When you rip a guy's heart out, the blood inside stinks of hot iron and dead blossoms." That's how to begin a story about Wolverine, folks, and the issue maintains that razor-sharp attitude throughout.

Before I move on, I just want to emphasize why that opening page is so effective. (And if you're an aspiring writer, you could learn a few things about how to write comics by this single, full-page image and juxtaposed captions.) First of all, the image establishes a serene sense of quiet--with a fog-covered temple in the distance, behind the snow-covered trees. (And I know that I should have a scanned image of page 1 here for you to look at, but I don't, so use your imagination.) The contrast between that image and the vividly described sensory image in the caption (with the "stink of hot iron" and all that), demonstrates what comics can do best. They can combine words and images to new effect, in a way that the words alone or the image alone do not achieve. Read the caption away from the illustration on the page, and you do not picture tranquility. Look at the image without the caption and you do picture tranquility, except for the footprints. And the footprints are the key to the entire effect. The footprints are not vague impressions in the snow. They are deep and sharply defined, with visible boot-sole impressions. Someone is heading toward that fog-covered temple. Something with the treads of a soldier.

The entire comic book is symbolized by that opening image, and I love to see such a thing in a comic that I didn't necessarily expect much from. I've enjoyed much of what Vaughan has done before, and Risso is wonderful, of course (and it's astounding to think of the amazingly consistent, and brilliant, work he's done on 100 Bullets, without hardly any fanfare--when that series is done and he moves on to something else, I guarantee he will be recognized as a superstar within the industry--not just by other professionals), but, really? Logan? You know what we don't need? Yet another story revealing a hitherto unreported episode from Wolverine's past. Every Wolverine story over the past few years has been about some hitherto unreported episode from Wolverine's past. Wolverine and Wolverine: Origins has read like one bad episode of Lost after another, except without the promise of a merciful end in sight.

So, yeah, I certainly wasn't expecting to find something surprising in Logan #1. But I did, because good creators can remind us that's it's all about the execution. And when you have a good premise--with Wolverine in WWII Japan, before the bombs fall; a good writer, in Vaughan who plays on Wolverine's fetishes but also justifies them; and a stellar artist, in Risso, who makes every panel throb with sinister menace and yet manages to evoke grace and beauty with apparent ease, well, it just works in a way that so many Wolverine stories have not.

This is a story about loss and tragedy, or at least it will be, if the first issue is any indication, and I think you should check it out. You will like it.


Marc Caputo said...

Good to see you back on longform commentary, Tim. This is only 3 issues so I'll pick it up at the end.

But I'm curious about something else - what is a bad episode of LOST like?

Cause I wasn't aware they'd ever made one.

Chad Nevett said...

Since I'm in London, I got, like, 30 comics today, which meant less "trying out random stuff," so I had to choose between this and Cable #1 (especially as I picked up the new issue of The All-New Atom thanks to SOMEONE).

I chose Cable.

Yeah, I'm a moron.

Marc Caputo said...

I picked it up, because I'm still in the glow of that post-Messiah CompleX good feeling, but after X-Factor and X-Force, I'm probably only sticking with Uncanny and X-Men.

But, thanks to Tim's canon talk and your co-blogger, Chad, I'm delving into Chester Brown's Yummy Fur and getting some pieces together to haul "my" Sequart column, Indie Focus, from the cellar.

Timothy Callahan said...

Fuck yeah. Yummy Fur!

Also, I did not pick up Cable because, you know, the TERRIBLE freakin' Olivetti art that (did I mention?) is terrible.

Also, the All-New Atom may turn out to be good with Remender. And you don't want to drop it right before it gets good, do you???

Chad Nevett said...

Does it really count as "dropping" when I bought one issue?

marcwrz said...

I've been looking forward to this as I love Vaughn and Risso.

Course didn't I read this is technically out of continuity?

Marc Caputo said...

Yeah, I could have overlooked the art if the story was horrible. The part with the diaper was kind of funny, but only because I change diapers (on my kid, not me.)

Timothy Callahan said...

My kids are no longer in diapers, therefore I am better than you and do not need to read Cable.

That is probably fallacious logic.

Yes, Chad, it's "dropping," if you quit after one issue. That's called giving up, and we Americans never give up. We don't stop just because we know it was a mistake, and we sure as hell don't call it a "mistake." See "Countdown," for further examples.

You folks up north may have a different philosophy, but, guess what, we don't care about your opinions.

Marc Caputo said...

So if I'm ever targeted by HUAC, I can just show them my collection of "Countdown" and I'm free to go?


Hey, the NYCC keeps on giving. Now that I've registered, I received an e-mail prompting me to submit my name for free tickets to a NYC screening of "Horton Hears a Who" tomorrow at a "top secret" theater in Manhattan. I did, I won and my daughter and I are going to the Ziegfeld tomorrow.

Chad Nevett said...

Huh... Countdown as a sign of the times within the larger American context... there's an essay in that.

And I've already cut and run on a title. I totally skipped over the new issue of Midnighter after my public "dropping" of it.

Timothy Callahan said...

Countdown is such a transparent allegory for the socio-political context of America circa 2007-2008. Jimmy Olsen represents the youth of America, asked to join a "war" which he does not fully understand. The Omni-Monitor represents George W. with his need to unify and conquer via an ancient dogma. Darkseid, with his stone face, represents the unyielding desert forces of the Middle East. Mary Marvel represents Britney Spears, and the Pied Piper is the secret homosexual agenda. Karate Kid represents kicking.

It's all just so obvious.

Chad Nevett said...

Shit, man, now you've GOT to do a nice big post on the subject.