BACK ISSUE TO THE FUTURE: WOLVERINE #73 + #74
Commentary by Dan W.
Years before Jason Aaron’s acclaimed run on Thor, Marvel had a problem. Their marquee Wolverine story, “Old Man Logan” was behind schedule. Originally planned to run from issues #66-74, artist Steve McNiven was not keeping up. Issue #70 had shipped in December 2008, issue #71 wouldn’t ship until March 2009, and #72 not until May. The solution? Giant-Size Old Man Logan, a double-sized wrap-up extravaganza, would ship whenever McNiven could finish the art (which ended up being September of that year) and issues #73/74 would run with replacement stories by Daniel Way & Tommy Lee Edwards, and Jason Aaron & Adam Kubert.
No one expected anything from these issues. Fill-ins are rarely exceptional; indeed Way and Edwards’ story is largely forgettable, and to worsen the taste in your mouth, rather than publish each fill-in as its own issue, Marvel split each one across both #73 & #74, so to get either complete tale, you’d have to buy both issues. But then Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert gave us “A Mile In My Moccasins” an absolute gem depicting Wolverine’s Sunday to Friday superheroics, and his Saturday nights getting drunk at the bar.
Having some fun with the fact that Wolverine, an uber-popular character on his worst day, was appearing in a dozen different Marvel series at the time, Logan has all of his costumes, team-ups, teammates, and random cameos crammed in throughout. Knife-sharp dialogue from Aaron, witty one-liners for the array of characters, and weightier conversations for those lucky enough to appear in more than one panel, paired with Kubert’s unique layouts and always dynamic art make “Moccasins” a joy to read. Who would have thought “A Day in the Life of Wolverine” could be so entertaining?
But the mighty Marvel tradition is humanizing their characters, grounding them with more relatable human concerns than the sun-gods and mythological forces at the Distinguished Competition, and while the front half borders on comedy, the back half is laser-focused on the burdens a 150 year old warrior might carry, and just how he might go about coping with them, and somehow the entire story still gels, nothing feels forced or non-germane to Wolverine or the supporting cast. The whole affair is a standout, and if you missed it the first time around, do yourself a favor a grab a copy of each issue.