One good thing that happened in 2016 for me was that I really got into comic books. I mean, really got into them. From Marvel and DC icons to independent runs to local one-offs, from books written by literary luminaries such as Margaret Atwood and Ta-Nehisi Coates to my own personal heroes such as Benjamin Percy and Matt Fraction (and G. Willow Wilson and Marjorie Liu and…) I was able to be a part of exciting stories, fun escapades, and absolutely gorgeous illustrations.
But my very favorite of the entire year was the Old Man Logan series for Marvel Comics written by Jeff Lemire with luminous artwork by Andrea Sorrentino. Issue #1 hit the stands on January 27, 2016, with the “The Last Ronin” storyline wrapping up with issue #13 on November 16. (Actually, the series is continuing, but with a different artist and with Logan starting a new leg of his journey.)
From the Marvel website, here is the opening synopsis of the series: “Fifty years from now, Logan — the man who no longer calls himself Wolverine — will have endured many atrocities: The Marvel Universe’s villains will have banded together and rid the world of its heroes. Logan’s closest friend, Hawkeye, will have been murdered in cold blood right before his eyes. And driven mad by the same radiation that gave him his superhuman strength, Bruce Banner will have fathered a family of hillbilly Hulks…that eventually went on to slaughter Logan’s wife and two children. But now, in the present, Old Man Logan wakes up to discover himself in a world before these atrocities, before the Wasteland. And he’s going to seize this opportunity and change history to ensure that his future never comes to pass…”
The story line is, yes, compelling. Wolverine has long been one of Marvel’s most varied and interesting characters, and this new take on his storyline allows for more originality than the old boy has seen in some time. True to his hype, writer Jeff Lemire injects Old Man Logan with a brooding moodiness – and a humanity – that is a great fit for the Wolverine legacy, even if the Wolverine moniker is never invoked.
But what truly puts this particular run of Old Man Logan on top is Andrea Sorrentino’s superlative artwork. It’s not just the colors and the images that are arresting, but the layout, the dynamic perspective, and the occasional wow! moment when you turn the page and are confronted with something that truly punches the storyline into the next level (and yes, I realize that it’s a whole team that does this, but Mr. Sorrentino is the apex of it all).
So if you’re looking for something different this coming year, think about getting into comics. They aren’t just for kids and nerds anymore. They are mainstream and they are engaging and they are beautiful. And if you want to start somewhere, check out the Old Man Logan 2016 series. Your local comic book shop should be able to order them for you, or they can be downloaded digitally. Or you can order the three “volumes” of the series from any bookstore, online or local (#3, “The Last Ronin” series, will be available on January 17).
So what are you waiting for?