Monday, July 15, 2013

Wolverine on the New York Times Best Seller List?

In a brilliant marketing move anticipating the release of the new Hugh Jackman movie that hits theaters at the end of this month, Marvel has collected Mark Millar's run on Wolverine into an Omnibus. This 576 page deluxe edition contains Wolverine 20-32, 66-72, and the Giant-Size Old Man Logan special–and it currently ranks fifth on the New York Times Best Sellers list of Hardcover Graphic Books.

The first half is the "Enemy of the State" story-line illustrated by Millar's Kick-Ass colleague John Romita Jr. which pits a rabid and brain-washed Wolverine against the entire Marvel Universe. It was a blood-thirsty romp, considered the ultimate Wolverine tale by fans. After a four-year absence from the title, Millar returned with a post-apocalyptic vision of tragic pathos that followed an elderly, retired, and pacifistic Wolverine, and it doesn’t get any better than this. Millar’s Civil War penciler Steve McNiven enhanced his usual adrenaline-rush theatrics with a rougher edge that captures archetypal Clint Eastwood at his wild-western best via Mad Max.

by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven
Issue #71, Cover Rough (gore cover)
Graphite on paper
Signed by Steve McNiven
8.5" x 11"

Foreign orders please add an additional $20 for postage.

The page above is a cover study for issue #71; the rough, pencil outline of the cover that would eventually be published. An extreme close-up of the titular hero’s face (with bullet wounds exposing the adamantium skull beneath his flesh before his mutant healing factor can repair the damage) reveals the quiet rage that has long been building in Old Man Logan, who long ago vowed to sheath his mighty claws. It’s one of the goriest superhero comic covers ever, and it epitomizes the best of Millar and McNiven’s work together: tough, gritty and barely containing the violence that percolates just beneath the surface. The team that shattered the status quo with the mega-hit Civil War reunited to tell the greatest Wolverine tale of them all –a sort of Unforgiven meets Dark Knight. This page was included in the Pop Sequentialism exhibition and the accompanying published catalog.

Wolverine has been a fan favorite ever since his introduction in the Incredible Hulk back in 1974, but it was the Frank Miller mini-series by Uncanny X-Men scribe Chris Claremont that established the character as a genuine, marquee name. And ever since Frank Miller's back-to-back prestige format books Ronin and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, fanboys have been praying that he would do a retirement age tale of the most savage mutant in all of comicdom. As the years stretched on and Miller's output became more erratic and less satisfying, Mark Millar became the go-to guy for well-written machismo.

Mark Millar has been one of the key figures of 21st century comics. Following a series of well-received collaborations with fellow Scotsman Grant Morrison at DC, Millar went solo in 2000 replacing powerhouse writer Warren Ellis on Wildstorm’s hit series The Authority. His controversial, over-the-top approach to the already dynamic superhero action garnered a heap of awards in the UK and America, but caused a bit of friction with publisher DC and Warner Bros, who greatly censored his scripts in an era of post 9/11 sensitivity. This led to his departure from DC, and offers of lucrative work at Marvel. In 2001, following the success of Brian Michael BendisUltimate Spider-Man, he launched Ultimate X-Men. It was huge. The following year he rebooted The Avengers via the title The Ultimates, which proved more popular than the X-Men. It became something of a phenomenon and the brass at Marvel’s film division used it as the source template for no less than four films, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers. He’s also had two big-budget, big-screen blockbusters adapted from his creator-owned titles Wanted and Kick-Ass–with a Kick-Ass sequel set for release next month.

So congrats to Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Steve McNiven for their continued success with a classic tale from the modern age. And congrats also to Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner who nabbed the New York Times Best Seller list's top spot with their Before Watchmen: Minutemen / Silk Spectre split hardcover collection, which represents the best of an otherwise mixed endeavor in telling new stories with characters created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons*. Cooke's New Frontier treatment of the Watchmen's under-represented characters is classy, reverent and enriching, while Conner's decidedly female perspective was fresh, light and endearing.

*scroll back through this blog for my take on the entire Before Watchmen line.

No comments:

Post a Comment