Today’s Super Comic — Old Man Logan #3 (2016)

And in the category of “totally unnecessary, but damn, it really kind of works” …

The future Wolverine from the acclaimed “Old Man Logan” storyline inexplicably time-travels to the present, and he sees this as his chance to save the world from the horrible future he’s live through.

One of the problems (not a problem?) with popular entertainment is that successful characters and stories don’t get the luxury of stopping while they’re ahead. They’ll be milked for all they’re worth, especially when a related movie is coming out within the next year. The original “Old Man Logan” was perfectly satisfying on its own merits; no need for anything further.

However, if they must…

Three issues in, and I’m enjoying the series. Logan has a strong motive—he wants to redeem himself as well as save the world. How he arrived in the present remains a mystery. And the book is making superb use of guest stars.

In issue #3, Logan meets the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, whose youthful energy provides an entertaining foil for the old man who’s lost everything. Their conversation as they’re running across rooftops is particularly fun…and maybe foreshadows plot developments, too.

I’d rather have the proper Wolverine, of course, but I’m on board with this. Fortunately, several more issues are already on Marvel Unlimited.

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Old Man Logan vol. 1: Berzerker (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 15 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Captain America #37 (2008)

Dayyy-umm, what an excellent series this is.

Yes, I know—that was the height on intellectual literary criticism. I’m a bit pressed for time.

Captain America #37 begins the third trade paperback collection of the “Death of Captain America” arc, so we’re back to some rising action. The Falcon expresses his skepticism about the new Captain America to Tony Stark and the new Cap himself, Bucky Barnes, and these scenes are especially interesting in hindsight considering that Falcon (Sam Wilson) is the current Captain America substitute.

But the scenes are strong in their own right, adding tension and casting doubt as to whether Bucky can succeed as Captain America. As another former partner of the original Cap, Falcon is certainly qualified to have an opinion.

Falcon isn’t the only doubter—we get a nice little Hawkeye appearance, too, giving the new Cap a hard time, kind of like how he often gave the old Cap a hard time back in the day.

And if that all isn’t enough reason to keep reading, the cliffhanger involving Sharon Carter will do the trick.

Dayyy-umm indeed.

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Steve Epting

Cover: Jackson Guice

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Captain America: The Death of Captain America vol. 3 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Wolverine #72 (2009)

Well, that took a turn. (Spoilers ahead.)

Wolverine #72 is the second-to-last part of “Old Man Logan,” with the final part printed in Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Sized Special #1. But I think the story should have ended in #72. (The final part is mostly an ultra-violent bloodbath, and frankly a disgusting one at parts, though it does have an excellent final scene.)

The storyline centered on Logan on a cross-country odyssey with Hawkeye, with the former refusing to unsheathe his claws the entire time despite the many dangerous situations they encounter. Having been tricked into murdering the X-Men fifty years earlier, Logan has vowed never to harm another soul. But his young family needs money to avoid the wrath of the Hulks, so he agrees to help the mostly blind Hawkeye drive across what used to be America.

Things don’t go well, but he never once pops his claws. Even as he battles President Red Skull to the death, he uses the weapons of other, long-dead superheroes to do it. He’s still no longer Wolverine as far as he’s concerned—he just wants to get home to his family.

He indeed gets home with the money he had worked so hard for. But too late. The Hulks got bored and killed his family. And out come the claws.

That would’ve been a perfect ending. You know exactly what happens next: old-fashioned berserker Wolverine on a revenge mission, killing those who killed his family. It’s a foregone conclusion, so story-wise, there’s no need to show it. Those final few pages of #72 say everything about the character—no matter how much pain Logan endures, he always “heals.” Wolverine suffers, but he survives and fights for those he loves.

But even with the final part, it’s still an excellent Wolverine story (but NOT for children). It’s a big story that gets at the heart of character by showing him at his most defeated and building him back up.

There’s no way the movie can follow the plot exactly, but it can capture the spirit of it. I remain optimistic.

Writer: Mark Millar

Penciler: Steve McNiven

Inker: Dexter Vines

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Wolverine: Old Man Logan (TPB)

Appropriate For: ADULTS ONLY

Today’s Super Comic — Wolverine #66 (2008)

I never read “Old Man Logan.” Considering how the storyline is critically acclaimed and the inspiration for the new Wolverine movie that comes out this week, I better get to it.

So far, I’ve just read the first part, in Wolverine #66, and why did I overlook this for so long? Set in a future Marvel Universe in which the good guys lost, Logan is trying to put his superhero days behind him and focus on his family. Yes, the former Wolverine is in a family way, with a wife and two kids. And he’s got no fight left in him, which is a highly unusual—and therefore interesting—state for this character to be in.

I’m surprised this was printed in the regular Wolverine series rather than as a separate miniseries. It certainly feels distinctive enough to stand on its own, especially with the big-name talent behind it (writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven).

This story is building its own world with its own rules, using the Marvel Universe we know merely as a starting point. The inclusion of an old, blind Hawkeye and the grandchildren of the Hulk suggests this story will be playing in a rather large sandbox.

After reading the first part, I want to know what exactly happened and what will happen to make Wolvie get his groove back. I’m assuming that will be the case, anyway … it will be really depressing if it’s not. On to part two, then…

Writer: Mark Millar

Penciler: Steve McNiven

Inker: Dexter Vines

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Wolverine: Old Man Logan (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 15 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Mockingbird #4 (2016)

mockingbird-4I see what they did there. Hawkeye is cast as the scantily-clad damsel in distress, and the fully clothed Mockingbird comes to his rescue.

This kind of thing should happen more often—well, not the scantily clad part, as no one in a comic ever needs to be scantily clad. But women should be saving men as much as men save women.

While that’s the more obvious feminist hook of Mockingbird #4, there’s another that I would think is even more important—the fact that Bobbi Morse is getting greater character development than she’s ever received. In the books I’ve read, she’s primarily served the role of Hawkeye’s wife or ex-wife. For the first time, she comes alive as her own character.

And in addition to all that, this is a solid, engaging comic with a great sense of humor.

Writer: Chelsea Cain

Penciler: Kate Niemczyk

Inker: Sean Parsons

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Mockingbird vol. 1: I Can Explain (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Hawkeye #6 (2012)

hawkeye_vol_4_6As I’ve said before, the entire Hawkeye series by Matt Fraction is excellent. But the holiday-themed issue is #6, so that seems like a timely place to focus right now.

The story shows us six December days in Hawkeye’s life…out of order. The reader, then, must piece everything together along the way, kind of like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a book that respects your intelligence enough to ask you to pay attention. Then you read it again and admire the subtleties and subtext.

Appropriately for a holiday issue, the theme is home. Specifically, Clint has recently moved into an apartment—he’s even bought the whole building—and he needs to embrace his new home and resist his usual impulse to run away to the next thing. There’s also the faintest whiff of It’s a Wonderful Life, as Clint learns about his own value, too.

“I know it’s a mess and it’s half-taped together and it’s old and busted—but it’s mine. And you gotta make that work, right? You gotta make your own stuff work,” Clint says late in the chronology but early in book, before we know exactly what he’s talking about.

David Aja’s art is terrific throughout. He’s a master of incorporating tiny panels into his layouts, which I imagine must be a significant challenge for any comic book artist. However, the most memorable image is a full-page splash panel of Hawkeye getting ready to defend his home. Clint appears small in the lower foreground, and a fairly bland apartment building consumes most of the page, with only snow breaking it up. It’s a wonderful image that encapsulates what the issue is all about.

Writer: Matt Fraction

Artist: David Aja

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Hawkeye vol. 2: Little Hits (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 15 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The New Avengers #1 (2015)

new-avengers-1-2015I’m skeptical about the need for multiple Avengers titles. In recent years, we’ve had All-New All-Different Avengers, New Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Young Avengers, Avengers A.I., Occupy Avengers, and of course, just plain old Avengers. To be fair, we’re not at ‘90s X-Men levels yet, but one solid Avengers team should suffice.

Then again, a spinoff can always justify itself with an interesting premise that distinguishes it from the parent title, and that’s what we get in the latest iteration of New Avengers.

I missed whatever story led into this, but apparently Robert DaCosta, formerly the founding New Mutant called Sunspot, is now a billionaire and running the formerly (?) villainous organization A.I.M. But instead of being Advanced Idea Mechanics, it’s now Avengers Idea Mechanics and has its own team of Avengers.

The roster features several characters I’m not overly familiar with, which is why I almost overlooked this series. We’ve got Songbird, formerly of the Thunderbolts; Wiccan and Hulking, formerly of the Young Avengers; White Tiger, formerly more of a street-level vigilante type; Squirrel Girl, formerly of the very obscure Great Lakes Avengers; and a Power Man I’ve never seen before who definitely isn’t Luke Cage. And then there’s somebody I actually am very familiar with, Hawkeye, who is primarily serving as a not-secret spy for SHIELD (an open and honest spy is a nice inversion of the team-traitor trope).

The focus here seems to be on big science-y scenarios—comic book science, of course, which tends to be more science-fantasy than science-fiction, but either can be lots of fun. The main villain, appropriately, is an evil version of Reed Richards from the now-defunct Ultimate Universe.

The first issue lays out the basics, but I get the feeling there’s more going on, which will be revealed in time. Always a good impression to leave with the reader—that’s an excellent way to bring me back for more.

Writer: Al Ewing

Artist: Gerardo Sandoval

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in New Avengers vol. 1: Everything is New (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-New Hawkeye #6 (2016)

all-new-hawkeye-6The Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez run on All-New Hawkeye comes to a satisfying conclusion in #6 (which should really be #11, but maybe smaller numbers sell better).

The issue’s highlight is the flashback showing the moment when the Avengers, particularly Hawkeye, first inspired the second Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. And the scene is nicely placed after an amusing present-day conversation between Clint Barton and his brother Barney, in which Barney rags on him for being the Avengers’ token normal guy. But Hawkeye’s ability to hold his own among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes without any powers, just a bow and arrows and skills—that’s what inspires young Kate.

The unconventional friendship between the two Hawkeyes has formed a great heart for the series, and it pays off wonderfully here.

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Ramon Perez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Hawkeye vol. 6: Hawkeyes (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Hawkeye #7-8 (2004)

Hawkeye 7These issues aren’t from the critically acclaimed Hawkeye series that kicked off around the time of the Avengers’ phenomenally successful first movie. They’re from the previous attempt at a Hawkeye solo series, before we had any idea the Marvel Cinematic Universe was coming.

And while they’re not at the level of the more recent series (so few comics are), they’re definitely worth a look. In these final two issues (#7 and 8—yeah, really short-lived series), Clint tries to solve a murder and winds up at odds with his ex-girlfriend, the Black Widow.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about it. It’s just a solidly executed two-parter that gets Hawkeye’s character exactly right. He’s the stubborn guy who involves himself in affairs he has no business being involved in.

How else would you describe a non-powered archer who joins the Avengers?

Writer: Fabian Nicieza

Penciler: Joe Bennett

Inker: Sandu Flores

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-New Hawkeye #2 (2015)

All New Hawkeye 2The previous Hawkeye series was so phenomenally brilliant, any follow-up with a new creative team was destined to pale in comparison. No one’s at fault for not getting lightning to strike twice in the same spot.

But while All-New Hawkeye isn’t quite on the level of its predecessor, it’s still a perfectly fun superhero book (based on the two issues available on Marvel Unlimited).

This series veers closer to traditional superhero territory than the previous run, and in its wisest move, it enhances the focus on the unconventional mentor/mentee relationship of the two Hawkeyes, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. And that relationship is strained at the moment—two moments, actually. The story jumps back and forth between the present day and twenty years from now, when Kate is the big-time superhero pulling old Clint out of retirement.

All good stuff so far. I’m on board for more.

Aaaaand after writing that and preparing this post, I just realized this is the second All-New Hawkeye series by the same creative team. The first lasted five issues, and all of these came out in 2015. Yes, this is the second All-New Hawkeye #2 by Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez that came out in 2015. Marvel, can you please wait at least a full year before renumbering? I promise, there is no need to revert to #1 after each storyline.

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Ramon Perez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Hawkeye vol. 6: Hawkeyes (TPB) (Yeah, the trade paperback numbering they kept, even though the book’s title changed.)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up