Thursday, November 6, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Life After Logan #1
The recent (temporary) death of Wolverine has raised some very somber and very important questions. Chief among them is how exactly will the Marvel Universe function without it’s favorite hard-drinking, stab-happy Canadian with a thing for redheads, whiskey, and African goddesses? It’s a question many thought they would never have to answer, especially since a sizable chunk of Marvel’s sex appeal comes from Hugh Jackman’s ability to make Wolverine sexy in the movies. But now, in wake of Death of Wolverine, that difficult question has to be answered. It has been explored in other comics to some extent. But no comic to date has taken a big picture view on how the Marvel Universe will work with a dead Wolverine. That’s exactly what Life After Logan #1 is supposed to explore. The problem is, there is a precedent for it and it’s pretty shitty. Wolverine has been killed off in other major AUs, namely X-men Forever and Ultimate. In both cases, it failed miserably. X-men Forever got canceled and the less said about Ultimate, the better. Could the third attempt be the charm? If not, then we can probably already start the countdown to Wolverine’s inevitable resurrection.
That being said, I think it’s safe to assume that Cyclops is the one counting down the slowest. He is the first character whose reaction is explored in wake of Wolverine’s death. On the surface, that sounds a little off because it’s akin to exploring the reactions of Eagles fans after the Cowboys lose. Of the many, many people Wolverine has pissed off in his life, few have been more victimized by his assholery than Cyclops. And unlike Sabretooth, it’s hardly deserved. But it’s for that reason why his reaction is worth exploring.
Cyclops narrates his reaction through some intimate, insightful thoughts about Wolverine. He doesn’t skip straight to the part where he mourns a fallen X-man. He acknowledges that Wolverine was a massive douche who cared more about beer than he ever did about keeping the X-men together. All those responsibilities fell on Cyclops’ shoulders and Wolverine respected those responsibilities by trying to bang his wife. Cyclops made himself the responsible one and his reward for that was being labeled a dork while the hard-drinking, womanizing, movie-ruining asshole got to be cool. Yet still, Wolverine’s death affected him.
After acknowledging what a dick Wolverine was, Cyclops starts to reflect on the ways Wolverine was actually a friend. This leads to a string of nice flashbacks to some of the most important moments in X-men history, such as the aftermath of Jean Grey’s first (but certainly not her last) death. It reveals a nice moment where Wolverine actually tries to encourage Cyclops to keep being that responsible guy that nobody likes but everyone respects. It’s a moment that shows as big a dick as Wolverine could be, he was still a friend.
This played out in less tragic flashbacks as well, such as when Wolverine had the adamantium ripped out of his body. It led to another nice moment between these two where they reflect on how tough it is to keep fighting, but they do it anyways and not just because it means encountering more pretty redheads. Cyclops acknowledges in these moments that Wolverine had his vulnerabilities and he had a sense of humanity, once he got beyond the attitude, the drinking, and the womanizing. Wolverine’s still a dick, but he’s a respectable dick in the tradition of Dr. House.
These flashbacks and these moments that Cyclops shared with Wolverine all lead to an important realization that really makes his reaction feel genuine. In addition to acknowledging Wolverine’s faults and strengths, Cyclops acknowledges how badly he has fucked up, going all the way back to Jean’s second death. Granted, he’s not wholly responsible for what happened in Schism or Avengers vs. X-men, but he accepts responsibility as he always has. And as Wolverine taught him, he doesn’t have the luxury of quitting. He’ll keep fighting like Wolverine did, minus the heavy drinking. He may try to do a little womanizing along the way. Redheads, blonds, and psychics just can’t resist him. But I think Wolverine wouldn’t have it any other way.
It makes for a beautiful, deeply personal moment for Cyclops. It couldn’t be more fitting unless beer was involved. And remarkably, Cyclops decides that Wolverine deserves the extra effort in his death. So after he reflects on all the ways Wolverine has influenced his life, he decides to honor in the most appropriate way possible. He goes out to a biker bar, beats the shit out of some thugs, and gets himself a nice cold beer.
Now I think it’s safe to say that Cyclops has made an appropriate tribute to Wolverine. He reflected on all the ways they hated and respected one another. He remembered all the hard lessons he learned from him. And he found a way to incorporate beer and bar fights. He couldn’t have honored his fallen friend/rival any better. I have to say this sort of thing makes a drunk weep.
The next two characters whose reactions are explored involve a lot less tears and that’s not a bad thing. Nobody likes getting emotional without tequila being involved. Unlike Cyclops, Wolverine had a much more typical friendship with Colossus and Nightcrawler. These were the kinds of friends he would go out drinking with, laughing and carrying on with stories about killer robots, evil mutants, and Asian hookers. That means they’re going to be a lot less conflicted when it comes to dealing with Wolverine’s death. That also means they’re willing to go the extra distance to pay tribute to him.
This leads them to Japan where they hope to carry out one of Wolverine’s most important traditions one last time. And no, it didn’t involve making his way through every massage parlor in a weekend. It involves paying a visit to Mariko Yashida’s grave, which Wolverine did every year. Now that he’s dead, it’s up to Colossus and Nightcrawler to pay one last visit on Wolverine’s behalf. But it isn’t that easy. It can never be that easy with Wolverine, unless beer is involved. As it just so happens, Mariko’s grave is guarded by a bunch of ninjas. And Wolverine tore through ninjas the same way he tore through six-packs. So naturally, Colossus and Nightcrawler will have to go through them to pay tribute to their friend. It’s probably not as much fun as Cyclops enjoying a good bar fight, but it’s right up there.
It actually doesn’t get too hostile at first. The ninjas actually do let them in to see the grave. Sure, they also completely surround them like pack of wolves at a bacon factory, but that only saves Colossus and Nightcrawler the trouble of weeding them out. They do the first part of what they came to do. They take the sword Mariko gave Wolverine and stick it in her grave. Now I’m not all that versed in the kinds of Japanese culture not depicted in anime porn, but I’m pretty sure that’s one of those gestures that could be easily misconstrued as an insult. To Colossus and Nightcrawler, sticking the sword in the grave was a way for Wolverine to connect with Mariko one last time. For the ninjas, they might as well have let a pack of dogs take a shit on it.
This allows Colossus and Nightcrawler to do the second part of what they came to do. Wolverine has now been honored and can rest in peace with Mariko. Now they can get to the part where they beat up ninjas. Unlike Cyclops, they don’t find a way to incorporate beer into this tribute, but that doesn’t make it any less fitting. They take to battling ninjas with the same delight that Wolverine did. Despite being surrounded and out in the open, Colossus and Nightcrawler hold their own in a nicely detailed fight that has all the organized delight of a Rihanna music video. It doesn’t bring a tear to my eye, but it still makes for some nice moments that I’m sure Wolverine himself would appreciate.
So Wolverine has been honored with beer, gestures at the grave of Markio, and beating up ninjas. What more could be done to honor his memory without mixing his ashes with whiskey? Well, not every reaction explored here is a tribute. There’s still room for characters just learning to cope with Wolverine’s death. One of those characters is Armor, one of the many cute teenage girls that Wolverine connected with over the years in completely non-pervy way. Sure, some still thought he should be made a sex offender for hanging around so many cute teenage girls, but he left a good impression on them all and Armor was no exception.
Being a teenage girl, coping is not one of those skills that she’s going to be inherently good at. She can’t be responsible like Cyclops, Colossus, and Nightcrawler. She has to be a little more pissed off, which means creating a Danger Room scenario where she can beat the shit out of all Wolverine’s enemies. I admit if I had a Danger Room, I would probably do the same when I’m pissed off, except I would beat the shit out of all my old high school teachers. I’m not going to say it’s healthy. I’m not even going to say it’s fitting. But in the spirit of exploring how Armor is reacting to the death of someone she cared about, I’d say it’s appropriate. And besides, we already saw beer and ninjas used to honor Wolverine. Why not complete the cycle by beating the shit out of his enemies?
Even though these enemies are just simulations, they’re still Wolverine’s enemies. That means Armor is going to be overmatched. A pissed off teenage girl is powerful, but Wolverine’s enemies are just slightly beyond their ability to overwhelm everything in their path. This leads to Hellion showing up to shut down the program before she was left with a Wolverine-level hangover.
In the process, he reveals that the beer Armor was holding wasn’t part of the hologram. She actually stole that from Wolverine’s stash. If he were still alive, that would be considered an effective method of suicide. But in his absence, it’s a tribute of sorts and part of how Armor is trying to cope. Again, it’s not rational and it’s definitely going to piss off One Million Moms for promoting underage drinking, but for a teenage girl, it still works. It can’t be more harmful than some of the other medications teenagers take these days.
This leads to an emotional moment with Armor and by that I mean she ends up punching Hellion in the face. To be fair, he was asking for it when he made a joke about Wolverine’s fondness for teenage girls. It wasn’t a wholly inaccurate joke, but he was still asking for it. They both get a little pissed off. They’re teenagers. They’re prone to overreacting in fucked up ways. But it still brings out all the right emotions. Armor talks about how she sensed it when Wolverine died and how his essence is part of her powers now. It’s not clear how accurate that is. It might just be typical teenage melodrama. It still helps Armor’s tears feel genuine and, to his credit, Hellion isn’t a total ass about it.
In the end, the two teens console each other. Sure, Hellion turns it into an opportunity to get into Armor’s panties. He’s a teenage boy. It would be a much bigger cause for concern if he didn’t try something like that in this situation. Armor politely rejects him and while it sucks for Hellion’s penis, it helps them come to an understanding. It also prevents Armor from drinking the beer and taking her first step towards Wolverine-level alcoholism. Some might be disappointed, but it’s hardly surprising. Marvel won’t even let characters smoke anymore. There’s no way they would let an underage girl drink. Even they’re not that eager to piss off One Million Moms.
Even if Wolverine will inevitably return, if only to appease the women and gay men who want to sleep with Hugh Jackman, this issue conveyed all the right emotions from a diverse set of characters. It succeeds in giving everybody that warm and fuzzy feeling inside that’s usually matched only by a good bottle of whiskey. Everything felt genuine. The thoughts and emotions displayed by these characters was appropriate and fitting. I imagine when Wolverine comes back, he’ll gladly buy all of them a bear, even Armor. They’ve earned it.
At times, the story was somewhat limited. Anybody who doesn’t like stories built around a narrow set of emotions won’t be missing much by skipping this and renting a Transformer movie. This issue isn’t really presented as a critical component to the Death of Wolverine saga. It’s more a bonus feature or an epilogue. It really doesn’t try to be much more than that. While it may lack ambition, it still works as well as can be expected for any story that involves a bar fight and ninjas. I give Life After Logan #1 an 8 out of 10. It’s still not clear how long the Marvel Universe can last without Wolverine. There’s only so much legacy and replacement characters like X-23 and Daken can do. For now, they’re doing enough to stave off a heroin-level Wolverine withdrawal. Anyone could start vomiting violently at any moment, but for now I think the aftermath Wolverine (temporary) death warrants a salute and a cold beer. Nuff said!