This week “The Last Ronin” begins in Old Man Logan, and Red Hood goes back to his villainous ways in Red Hood & The Outlaws Rebirth!
Old Man Logan #9 (Marvel Comics)
Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Old Man Logan has been an interesting series to read. It started off as an assumed sequel to the classic Mark Millar and Steve McNiven series, but as it’s continued, we’ve slowly learned that this isn’t truly the case. This is a Wolverine from a different future, as none of the events that are currently happening in the Marvel universe have happened in his timeline. While it’s easy to say that this was made to make the original Old Man Logan just another “possible future” in the Marvel Universe, it also adds to the story of the man who was Wolverine. Not only is he a man from the future trapped in the past, he’s now a man stuck in a universe that’s not even his. It’s an extra dose of pain and sadness to the character, and that theme continues in Old Man Logan #9, which starts off the “The Last Ronin” storyline.
Logan is on the hunt for Lady Deathstrike and her Reavers, and won’t rest until he finds her. Tearing through every lowlife and scumbag in the Marvel universe, Logan eventually makes it to Japan, a place that brings up painful memories of his attempts to start over after the villains took over the United States. Flashing back to his previous life, Logan remembers his time with Maureen, the woman who eventually became his wife. He snaps out of it by the time he reaches Lady Deathstrike, who has been defeated by an enemy bearing the same name as one from Logan’s history. Could someone have followed him into our world?
That’s a question that Jeff Lemire wisely chooses not to answer. As I mentioned earlier, Old Man Logan is a pretty bleak series, but Lemire somehow manages to find the core human element that makes Wolverine work. This could be a super-depressing read, but somehow Lemire is able to find interesting angles to help us through that bleakness. It’s one of the reasons why Lemire has had such a stellar rise in comics recently.
Adding to the strength of this run is Andrea Sorrentino’s pencils, which, as always, are incredible. Sorrentino’s dynamic layouts and haunting pencils work wonders to give Old Man Logan an extremely unique look. Even when you compare these pencils to his other work with Lemire it has a certain spark to it that makes it stand out. There simply isn’t a book out there on the racks that looks anything like Old Man Logan.
When Old Man Logan was first announced it was easy to brush it off and just assume that it was a cheap gimmick by Marvel. And while it is still a gimmick, the fact that this much care and work is going into this series is pretty astounding. Old Man Logan could’ve been a book that was just rushed out to cash in on the popularity of this version of the character. Instead, we’ve got one of the best books being published by Marvel, of which there are sadly too few. Don’t let this one pass you by.
Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)
This may sound crazy coming from a major Batman fan like myself, but I really enjoy Red Hood. Ever since his return in 2004, I’ve really liked seeing Jason Todd show up to torment and annoy Batman as a villain. It added a fun layer to the Batman family that sadly went away as the character became more popular. However, with DC Rebirth Jason Todd is back to his evil ways, and ready to catch up on some lost time.
While Red Hood & the Outlaws’ “DC Rebirth” was teased as Red Hood going back to crime, in actuality he’s going deep undercover to find out how the Gotham Mayor is connected to organized crime. That’s fine, and this issue does a good job of giving new readers a jumping on point with the character, but there is a part of me that was a little let down by this reveal. Of course, it’s not like Jason Todd doesn’t have a mean streak in him anymore, but the reveal midway through the book where Jason and Batman have their talk over Jason’s recent actions kind of made me wish that Jason Todd had just gone back to full villain again, if only because I like the interplay between villain Red Hood and Batman.
Despite this initial disappointment, long time Red Hood writer Scott Lobdell presents a pretty good ‘restart” for the Red Hood. While I was hoping for a new writer to step in and give us their take on Jason Todd, Lobdell sets the stage nicely, and makes this new spin on Red Hood work well both in the context of Jason Todd’s previous series and for new readers who only know him from the Arkham series of games. It’s also nice to finally have Jason be in the spotlight. It seemed to me that whenever I would read issues of the New 52 Red Hood & the Outlaws or Red Hood & Arsenal the focus would be on everyone except the guy who had top billing. Here Lobdell gives us an interesting look inside Jason Todd’s mind and worldview, and it makes the title even stronger because of it.
Dexter Soy handles the art duties for this Rebirth issue, and while he’s good, his art looks a little looser than I remember it being. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but the sketch quality to some of his figures gets to be a little distracting. However, he does draw a pretty damn impressive Batman.
While Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth doesn’t completely turn Jason Todd back over to the dark side (or introduce his two new teammates), it’s a solid foundation for what will hopefully be a fun series. Scott Lobdell has had two shots already with me for Red Hood. Here’s hoping the third time is the charm.