Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Logan #1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso

Review by A.J. Burgin

Being a fan of Pride of Baghdad and Runaways, I get that Brian K. Vaughan has a flair for the dramatic. I expected a bit of a melodrama going into Logan, but this was too much. The opening says it all: “I’ve made a hell of a lot of enemies over the decades, but I don’t lose sleep over ‘em. No, it’s the women that keep me up at night, the handful of girls I was dumb enough to fall for over the last century or so. See, I can recover from just about anything…Anything but getting my heart ripped out.” I hate to say it, because I really like Vaughan, but Logan looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad emo song, with Logan haunted by lost love.

The storyline could be fairly interesting: Logan wakes up in a Japanese POW camp during World War II, fights his way out with an American soldier, and meets a Japanese woman named Atsuko. Logan turns hero as he prevents the American from killing Atsuko, at which point she takes him home to hide and feed him. The story is refreshingly different from your standard “Wolverine as ultimate badass” story, and reveals a new side of everyone’s favorite X-Man. Unfortunately, it is also surprisingly offensive. The romance between Logan and Atsuko reads like a throwback to the World War II era narrative of the Western man (soldier) who rescues the timid Japanese woman who then falls wildly in love with him and needs him in her bed. In real life, this fantasy scenario often led to rape, so it’s surprising to see the usually conscientious Vaughan employ such a shoddy trick.

The disappointing writing is at least well contrasted by Eduardo Risso’s artwork. His renderings of Logan humanize the character in a way that few artists have. The work is dark and powerful and adds the subtlety to the characters that the writing lacks. The attention to detail coupled with Dean White’s coloring makes for truly beautiful pages. Perhaps what I appreciate most about Risso is the really unusual portrayal of the sex scene: no real nudity. Atsuko strips herself for Logan, an occasion during which most artists would relish in drawing the lines and details of her body. Instead, Risso is able to show what is happening while keeping Atsuko’s body almost completely shadowed. Vaughan’s writing objectifies Atsuko far more than the artwork.

Overall, Logan #1 proved disappointing, but Risso and White’s artwork may be worth giving the mini-series a chance.

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