In case it wasn’t obvious by now, I have a fascination with Japan and the history of the samurai. It’s partly why Wolverine is one of my favourite characters and why I always jump at the chance to read any Japan related story he’s involved in. So, when I came across Wolverine: Old Man Logan: The Last Ronin, you can bet I was excited to dive into the story. Written by Jeff Lemire, the graphic novel revolves around Old Man Logan’s adventures in the main Marvel Universe and his battle to stop the version of his future from happening. There’s everything you could want from a Wolverine adventure in Japan: ninjas, action and plenty of emotion.
What’s interesting about the story is that it’s not the original Wolverine that readers are seeing. Old Man Logan has lost everything, which adds an extra layer of tragedy to his backstory. He vowed never to resort to violence again after being manipulated into killing the X-Men, so his internal struggle is worth investing in. Logan is on a mission to track down Lady Deathstrike after she murdered innocent people in Canada, which leads him to Japan.
Wolverine adopts his ‘Patch’ persona in order to interrogate a snitch. Logan admits to himself that he’s feeling sentimental by wanting to relive his younger days. It’s a personal touch that adds some humour to the scene, even as it goes horribly wrong. Wolverine is able to track down Deathstrike, only to reveal that she’s been used as bait by a group called The Silent Order.
The Silent Order captures Wolverine and plan to kill him in order to protect their leader, The Silent Monk. Logan remembers how he dealt with the same group in his timeline. In his reality, Old Man Logan slaughtered The Silent Order in order to protect his girlfriend.
In the present, the Silent Monk is a child and foresees his death at Logan’s hands. This leads to Wolverine teaming up with Lady Deathstrike to battle through the ninjas. Wolverine vows not to repeat past mistakes and reasons with the boy, promising to help him control his powers.
Lemire’s plotting is tightly paced, weaving together two separate timelines to inform Logan’s decisions. They reveal two sides of a man who’s trying to live up to the honour he associates with Japan and the berserker that’s scratching beneath the surface.
The art is handled by Andrea Sorrentino and his panels are some of the most stunning I’ve ever seen. His blood-soaked, violent portrayal of Japan is contrasted against wonderful black and white work. The monochrome panels emphasis when a weapon pierces a character’s body, further highlighting the brutality. My favourite Sorrentino art by far is a splash page of The Silent Monk reading Wolverine’s mind. It’s a collage of tiny images that’s as beautiful as it is haunting.
Wolverine’s Japanese adventures always shine a light on the dichotomy of the character, which is why I enjoy them so much. The Last Ronin is an enjoyable story that every X-Men fan should read. It’s available to buy on Amazon.