WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Old Man Logan #31
Wolverine's first trip to Japan became one of Marvel's best comics, and he's about to return - maybe even for the same woman. That's the romance that Marvel is teasing, anyway, as their company-wide return to the "core" of their top heroes, dubbed Legacy, takes Wolverine literally walking through his comic book past. Only this time, it isn't the same Logan. Instead, Marvel's new regenerating ronin is Old Man Logan - the older version of Wolverine from another world, now walking the streets of Tokyo in our universe.
For obvious reasons, it's getting harder to explain Marvel's many versions of Wolverine currently existing in the Marvel Universe (he's a popular guy, what's Marvel to do?). But Marvel Legacy's story for the older hero - beginning in Old Man Logan #31 - is already getting creative with canon and continuity. The Wolverine may be older, but as the story of the Scarlet Samurai begins, it's going to look seriously familiar to older fans who saw Chris Claremont and Frank Miller make Logan's first trip to Japan so memorable.
Casual fans would do well to dig into the history of Wolverine before diving into Ed Brisson and Mike Deodato Jr.'s new storyline, since the references and retreads of Claremont and Miller's story begin almost immediately. In the new version of the story, Old Man Logan is drawn to the bustling lights and life of Tokyo, having come from a version of Earth filled with nothing but wasteland. But as is usually the case for Wolverine, violent criminals and mutant healing soon crash into his peaceful vacation.
And not long after, he's wading into the family conflicts between the ninjas of The Hand, the Silver Samurai, and the entire Clan Yashida.
The only thing that's missing is the woman Logan once loved more than life itself. Before she was murdered, breaking the hero in ways even he couldn't repair. But she's not missing for long.
It's hard to know just what the storytellers are after in terms of continuity, and re-imagination as opposed to mere homage. Other Legacy titles have returned heroes to their origins and most well-known tales, but that's not really possible with a hero like Old Man Logan. Instead, he seems destined to relive the Wolverine series from 1982. Clan Yashida is at war with The Hand, led by the head of their family, Shingen Yashida, boasting a suit of armor as the fabled Silver Samurai (all of which was adapted to the movie The Wolverine, with some serious changes made along the way).
And just to double down on the mystery of Mariko Yashida, somehow restored from being killed decades earlier, the official solicits for the series claim that "a former love drags him into battle." Issue #31 doesn't include that particular beat, but pairing it with the issue's final panel of the Silver Samurai being killed by, and handing Clan Yashida to 'the Scarlet Samurai,' and the cover art of Logan and the red warrior passionately kissing is hard to misread.If the woman in question ISN'T Mariko Yashida, and the goal of this Legacy story ISN'T to put Old Man Logan through the same drama, then it's anyone's guess jsut what they're up to.
We're all for referencing and being inspired by the great stories of a given comic hero, but what do you Wolverine fans think of these explicit similarities? Is it the kind of return to the roots that you hoped Marvel Legacy would be, or do you have your doubts? Sound off in the comments.
Old Man Logan #31 is available now.