Logan + Laura

Logan [2017] is the most grim and violent of the Marvel movies. It is not my favorite of the Marvel films, but I would not hesitate to list it as one of the best comic-book movies of them all.

Directed by James Mangold, who co-wrote it Scott Frank and Michael Green, Logan is set in the year 2029. It is a dark era for mutants. There have been no mutant births in a quarter-century. Mutants are near extinct. They have been and continued to be hunted by “black ops” and artificially-enhanced Reavers. Mutant DNA is harvested to be used in the creation of new mutants, children and clones looked upon as things rather than human beings.

Logan, played one last time by the brilliant Hugh Jackman, is one of the last remaining mutants. He is old. As his healing abilities weaken, he is dying from adamantium poisoning, his own body killing him. He works as a chauffeur, trying to make enough money to take to the seas with Charles Xavier.

Xavier, played by the even more brilliant Patrick Stewart, must be hidden away from the world. His physical deterioration makes him a threat to all, human and mutant alike. He is cared for by Caliban [Stephen Merchant], a mutant seeking atonement for his former role as a mutant hunter. On the high seas, Xavier will have peace from the voices that scream in his mind day and night. He is a man whose illness led to a terrible tragedy he can never forget or forgive himself for. Yet, such is Stewart’s art, that Xavier is also a man who refuses to abandon hope for the future.

Into this bare bones of an existence come two forces. One is Laura [Dafne Keen], a child created from Logan’s own DNA. The other force are those who hunt her: Zander Rice [Richard E. Grant], a soulless scientist who plays God with Laura and those like her; and Donald Pierce [Boyd Holbrook], the leader of the Reavers.

Without revealing too much more than I have already revealed, let me say that watching Logan was an emotional experience for me. It is not an easy movie to watch. It is grim and it is violent, but it is also heroic and thoughtful and ultimately satisfying. It speaks to me of parenthood and responsibility. It is, at its end, the end of Logan’s lifelong struggle to be more man than beast. There are moments, especially in the final scenes, that had me crying on the inside. Which is where the real tears live.

One such moment has nothing to do with the movie itself. For what I believe is the first time in a non-Marvel Studios production – Logan is a 20th Century Fox film – there are acknowledgments of at least some of the comic-book writers and artists whose comic books contributed to the movie. The special thanks don’t include all the creators they should have included, but their presence in the end credits is a good start for 20th Century Fox.

Logan is a great film. I recommend it to older viewers. Trust me. The “R” rating is accurate. Keep the young kids away from it until they’re older. But, for adults, prepare to experience a super-hero movie that can be dark without abandoning light. This one is truly a masterpiece.


Batman Wonder Woman 1

Batman ‘66 is among my favorite super-hero comics of recent years. I’ve also enjoyed the more serious Wonder Woman ‘77. No surprise I have been looking forward to the six-issue Batman ‘66 Meets Wonder Woman ‘77 [$3.99 per issue]. Having now read the first two issues, I’m not in the least bit disappointed.

Written by Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko, the series doesn’t have as much humor as the Batman ‘66 title. But it’s a solid start with Batman and Robin first opposing Catwoman and Talia – the former is stealing a rare book for the latter – and then flashing back to a World War II era auction in which Thomas and Martha Wayne donated the tomes to raise money to find the Nazis. A young Bruce Wayne has his first meetings with Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia and Wonder Woman. The League of Shadows want the books. The Nazis want the books. Young Bruce isn’t of a mind to let that happen.

The art is by David Hahn (pencils), Karl Kesel (inks) and Madpencil (colors). The Catwoman in the story is the Eartha Kitt version, my favorite Catwoman after Julie Newmar. Gotham’s Camren Bicondova has not yet become Catwoman in that TV series, but, when she does, she will definitely be a contender.

With the next issue, Batman and Robin ‘66 will be connecting with Wonder Woman ‘66. Which makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing Batman ‘77 before the end of the series. I hope so.

Batman ‘66 Meets Wonder Woman ‘77 is solid super-hero adventure. It gets my recommendation.



Alters [AfterShock; $3.99 per issue] is the story of people and a world in transition. Charlie/Chalice is transitioning into her true self at the same time her super-powers have activated. The growing number of “Alters” has changed the world forever with a murderous sociopath trying to force them to serve him while a team of heroes tries to rescue them. The non-super characters are watching their world and their lives change around them.

Alters is the tale of a journey, both within and without its pages. Writer Paul Jenkins has created an intriguing character in Chalice, but his stories reflect his own journey as he strives to create a positive protagonist who is unlike himself and as he discovers the many ways in which he can tell her story. His editorials, starting in the second issue, reflect and illuminate that journey in these scariest of times for the United States and the world.

Artist Leila Leiz is doing a first-rate job with both the drawing and the storytelling. Drawing comics is more than drawing a series of pictures. Those pictures have to relate to one another and move the writer’s story forward from panel to panel and page to page. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain adds additional weight to the art and the story with her work. It’s a great-looking comic book.

Of course, as my veteran readers know, I am a story guy first and foremost. Jenkins gets high marks from me for giving me a character I can cheer for and relate to. Charlie herself, of course, but also her brother Teddy, who has cerebral palsy. I’m also quite enjoying the slow growth of Charlie’s father. Jenkins put some work in on a character who could have easily become a stereotype.

Alters ties with Logan as my pick of the week. It’s super-heroics in a fantasy world that feels real. It delivered some extraordinary surprises in its first four issues. It’s a keeper and I recommend it to one and all.

I’ll be back next week with more reviews.

© 2017 Tony Isabella