This week the man formerly known as Wolverine enters the Marvel Universe, and it’s finally time for the big game in Southern Bastards!
Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel Comics)
Marvel’s “All New, All Different” relaunch has done a lot of strange things. In fact, some might accuse them of just throwing ideas at the wall to see if they’ll stick, which may be the reason for Old Man Logan, the new ongoing series that places the former Wolverine who starred in Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s fantastic original series into the main Marvel 616 (sorry, Marvel PRIME) universe. It seems like a gimmick, and it is. But with writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino on the series, it’s able to transcend the gimmickiness of its premise and plant the seeds for a pretty intriguing tale.
This opening issue picks up immediately after the events of the Secret Wars tie-in series, which found Logan hopping between the countries of Battleworld. After being encased in white light, Logan awakens in Times Square in the newly remade Marvel Universe. With all of the memories of “his” world still intact, Logan tries to piece together why he was saved from the final battle on Battleworld, and comes to the conclusion that he must have been saved for a reason. And that reason is to prevent his present from ever becoming a reality, which means hunting down the people responsible and killing them before they even conceive of their plan.
Like Logan, you won’t get an answer for why he was saved. However, Jeff Lemire uses this to his advantage to drive the overarching plot of the series. Lemire does a fantastic job of placing us inside Logan’s head, and the few flashbacks we get to Logan’s world are great reinforcements for his actions. The idea of hunting down and killing people before they commit an evil act is still entertaining even though this idea has been done to death in not only comic books, but also pop culture in general.
Andrea Sorrentino proved that he’s the peanut butter to Jeff Lemire’s chocolate on Green Arrow, so I had high hopes when it was announced that the two would be taking on this series. Amazingly, those hopes were exceeded with this issue. Sorrentino works overtime with this issue, depicting bustling New York City streets, a decaying world that has a SHIELD helicarrier as a trading post, and some seriously bloody fights. Hell, there’s even a nod to another famous older version of a character from Marvel’s Distinguished Competition that is both awesome and eye rolling at the same time. While it would’ve been nice to see some more details in the backgrounds of the panels, Sorrentino’s work here is just as stellar as it was on Green Arrow. It might even be better.
Make no mistake; the fact that the older Wolverine from Old Man Logan is running around the Marvel Universe on a revenge mission is 100% a gimmick that can’t last. But honestly, this is the best kind of comic book gimmick. You’ve got a strong writer and artist that are proven to be rock solid, on an idea that, under anyone else, would be OK at best. But Lemire and Sorrentino elevate this issue beyond the “old man is back for revenge” trope, and aside from updating some of the elements of the original story to work in modern Marvel costumes, it works surprisingly well. Old Man Logan, like All-New X-Men’s original run, is a premise that can’t last long. But I gotta admit, I’ll be along for the ride.
Southern Bastards #13 (Image Comics)
This is it. The moment that Jasons Aaron and Latour have been building to: the big Homecoming Game. And Coach Boss’s Runnin’ Rebs are losing. BAD. If you think that means his football players are in for a tough night, you don’t know the half of it. Luckily for us though, the worse things get for residents in Craw County, the better Southern Bastards gets for us.
It’s been a bit of a stretch since the last issue of Southern Bastards, but it was definitely worth the wait. Jason Aaron’s current storyline has used the build up to the Homecoming game as a way to showcase the different lowlifes and deadbeats that make up Craw County, and now it’s time for Coach Boss to take the spotlight. Reeling from the suicide of his defensive coordinator, Coach Big, the deck is stacked against Boss. He’s got the Mayor’s wife breathing down his neck to ensure the town wins the big game, an event that rivals going to church for the residents of Craw County, and even though no one has said it, if he loses this game, it’s not likely that it’ll be easy for him to keep his job. The pressure is on for Boss, which brings out the worst in him.
Aaron uses this stress to highlight the mindset of this evil, evil man, and like the last story arc, Aaron almost makes you feel bad for him. Boss is a man who has fought tooth and nail for everything he has, and when threatened, he becomes even more dangerous than he already is. But almost nothing tops what happens in this issue. My jaw dropped when I reached the end, it’s that insane.
Jason Latour makes the world of Southern Bastards feel so lived in and real that you can feel the humidity in the air and smell the mud and sweat on the players in the field. Latour, like Aaron, is able to tap into the darkness and dirtiness of the South and find a strange beauty in it, even when he’s depicting horrible people doing horrible things.
Southern Bastards continues to be on the top of my comic list, and this issue is a great example why. It completely envelops you into its world and refuses to let you leave until it’s done with you. Visiting Craw County is always a trip I love to take. It may not be a great place for the residents, but it’s a prime location for tourists.