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March 2, 2017

A Brief Note Or Two On Old Man Logan, Logan

imageAbraham Riesman wrote about the Old Man Logan series here in anticipation of the new film Logan starring the Wolverine character whose creation is assigned to Len Wein, John Romita Sr. and Roy Thomas. I found that comic-book series a cynical march through "shocking" twists on future, rudimentary Marvel narrative outcomes that bored the living shit out of me. Riesman had a different experience. Accumulating pathos via aging's diminished capacity and mournful perspective is something you see asserted in many versions of the King Arthur cycles and to my memory somewhat more obtusely in the James Fenimore Cooper Hawkeye/Bumppo stories. If you're someone that assigns personal significance to comic book characters it's easy to get to sadness when confronted with a weaker iteration.

I was curious going to see the James Mangold film Logan with a pal because Wolverine is one of the first wave of characters to become popular in American comic books without having a softer Silver Age version against which to push. Turns out I underestimated the cleverness of the filmmakers, who in this film set fire to the hopeful aspects surrounding the character, disassembling the structures for the emotional and personal gains of past movies and building a charnel house in its place. They even take the stunt-like central motivation plot point of the comic by which the movie is broadly influenced and shift it onto a more innocent character to whom it causes greater, more awful, more intimately portrayed and thus harder to take damage. Quality work, that.

As I imagine most of the film's reviews are likely to point out, Logan is executed scene to scene really well. It provides its audience with an economical portrayal of a curdled-to-shit America (those trucks! a subset of minor bad guys straight from a Michael Pollan book!) and action scenes that balance risk with displayed hyper-competence. That last is something few of those films ever achieve and becomes a well-earned source of tension throughout. Twelve-year-old me would have been delighted with the body count and then not known why he didn't sleep well for the next ten weeks. Forty-eight year old me hopes I get to see Patrick Stewart's Lear.
posted 9:55 pm PST | Permalink

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