Welcome to the very first Orbital Quick Cuts! This is an occasional series, designed to help you with a few suggestions if you want to delve into a particular character. Less in-depth than our Reading Lists, these are ideal if you’re just getting started with a series or if there’s a comic-book movie you’ve seen and you want to know more.
With Logan due to hit DVD and Blu-Ray on 10th July, we thought we’d take a look at some of the books available here at Orbital that would best set you up for watching this masterpiece of the super-hero genre. Now let’s get to it, bub!
OLD MAN LOGAN
Mark Millar (w), Steve McNiven (a)
Of course, we have to begin at the end. Spoilers: if you’re looking for adaptation of the movie, you’re not going to find it here. Old Man Logan is it’s own animal. The movie doesn’t really take plot elements (except in the loosest sense) from this series. What it does take is a fatalistic tone and sense of foreboding. The apocalypse in OML is actual, with all the heroes pretty much long gone whereas the apocalypse in Logan is more personal. It’s not the world that’s ended in the movie, just the characters hope at finding a place in it.
Here we have a world decimated by The Red Skull and others. A new frontier, like the historical west, but one that’s already been sucked dry by evil barons, namely the super-villains that back in the silver age probably seemed like jokes. Well, no-one is laughing now as there’s little humour to be had in this story, but that doesn’t make it joyless or less entertaining. Far from it. The book is fountain of bloody pleasures as Logan teams up with former Avenger Hawkeye for a trek across the badlands to deliver a very special package. The only trouble is, Hawkey insists on driving, even though he’s now blind and their only vehicle is a spider-jeep. Also, Logan himself is now a pacifist who refuses to pop the claws under any circumstances. This pretty much sets the scene for one of the best ‘what-ifs’ in Marvel history, with enough texture and dirt to satisfy those of us who like our super-heroes grim n’ gritty and enough nods to Marvel history to feel like its the way it could all go if pushed in the wrong direction.
NYX: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (VOL.1)
Joe Quesada & Marjorie Liu (w), Joshua Middleton & Kalman Andrasofszky (a)
Our first introduction to X-23 is very different to the origins you might expect for other X-Men characters: She is living as teenage prostitute in NYC, seemingly a world away from the warmth and support of the X-Mansion. Truth be told, X-23 isn’t even the main character here. We actually spend most of our time with Kiden, a gutter-trash high-school student who loves nothing more than petty crime and mind-altering drugs but who also unlocks a potentially life-saving mutation in her ability to freeze time. A mutation she only discovers during a nasty incident at school.
The book has more in common with the Marvel Max series of the time, not afraid to explore harder-edges and darker places. I was certainly surprised when reading it at just how far it chose to go in terms of it’s depiction of the children’s lives in the book. In fact it reminded me at times of the movie ‘Kids‘ in it’s tone and in some of the story-beats. Well worth revisiting if only to see what can happen when you don’t have a kindly professor guiding you through those early years of being a super-weapon.
X-23: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (VOLS. 1 & 2)
Various (w), Various (a)
Once again a book that contrasts nicely with it predecessors, this shows X-23 (now given her true identity of Laura Kinney) free of the life that was forced upon her. But the new life she has is no less dangerous than the one she was in, despite a strong positive influence from Logan himself. These volumes contain the origin of X-23 as well as her continuing struggle to forge her own path and make for great reading, especially now they’re available in these softcover omnibus editions.
Although there’s many a writer and artist of these books, their styles complement each other and we get some quality words and pictures here, including some terrific stuff from Majorie (‘Monstress’) Liu. These stories set up the character nicely for her later incarnation as the Wolverine, a mantle she’ll assume in All New, All Different Wolverine, the first volumes of which are available now!
WOLVERINE: ENEMY OF THE STATE
Mark Millar (w), John Romita, Jr (a)
There are X-Men fans, Wolverine fans, Cable fans… I’m none of those things, really. Just a general all-round fan-boy. Someone who likes (and yeah, I know it’s subjective) good comics. And as a fan-boy, let me say that hands down this run by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr is some of the best comics I’ve ever read.
The story is simple: The Hand and Hydra have teamed up and using a mutant known as Gorgon, they kidnap Logan and re-program him, teleporting him throughout the Marvel U to take out everyone. And I do mean everyone. The Fantastic Four, the X-Men, even The Sliders… no-one is safe from the Wolverine. This is Logan at his best… and that is to say at his worst. He becomes a pure killing machine, going after all your favourite characters. This run actually tops Millar’s Civil War and his Old Man Logan in my opinion. With terrific art by JRJR, this is an essential addition to any Marvel readers library. Also included in this volume is the 6-part ‘…Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ story-line and WWII Logan story by Millar.
WOLVERINE: WEAPON X
Barry Windsor-Smith (w,a)
Up until Wolverine: Origin hit the shelves, this was closest we got to Logan’s beginnings. Here he’s kidnapped again (making him the Kim Bauer of the Marvel U) and drafted in to be part of an experimental program that turns mutants into living weapons. Sadly, the architects of this program didn’t really bother to check if the mutants they were taking were actually lethal to begin with, so when they pick on Logan…
This is great and bloody stuff. Like the man himself, this is a stripped-down piece of work, with efficient storytelling and beautifully explosive art by Barry Windsor-Smith. Despite having very little dialogue from Logan, the book makes you feel for him as more and more of his humanity is stolen from him and he’s nudged toward his animal instincts.
Chris Claremont (w), Frank Miller, Paul Smith (a)
Wolverine, in spirit, has always been a Ronin… masterless and nomadic. But Miller and Claremont were the first to make the connection real in this 4-issue run from the early 80’s. This follows Logan as he chases his true love, Mariko Yashida, halfway across the world only to be defeated in battle and left to combat the Hand alone.
This series set down many of the elements that we take for granted in Logan now. It’s also interesting to see how Writer (Miller) and Artist (Claremont) do when they swap their traditional roles, both proving they could do the other’s job with relative ease. It’s also worth noting how unlike his Batman: Dark Knight Returns style Miller’s art is. He we have a sparse book, uncomplicated and un-fussy. Great reading and perfect for any newbies out there among you!
That’s all from our first Orbital quick cuts! You can purchase all the above Graphic Novels here at our store. You can also hear our podcast review of the movie in our new strand, Frame By Frame, where Robin, Liz and myself give you a spoiler filled chat on the film, recorded at The Cineworld Leicester Square. And for a spoiler-free view, you can check out Liz’s written review!
Don’t forget to come see us at the store. After all, we’re the best there is at what we do and what we do is sell great comics!