Old Man Logan #48
Logan hunts down the Maestro in Old Man Logan #48, by writer Ed Brisson, artist Ibraim Roberson, colorist Carlos Lopez, and letterer Cory Petit. This issue harkens back to Brisson’s first story arc on this book and the whole run comes full circle as two of Marvel’s baddest old men face off one last time, with the fate of a town in the balance.
Maestro had taken over the Canadian town of Fort Wells after Logan defeated him the last time. Using the info Puck gave him in the last issue, Logan shows up there and is captured by Maestro’s press-ganged guards. One of the town’s children tries to release him, but they’re spotted and Logan is brought before the Maestro. What follows is a bloody battle between a broken down Logan and a still powerful Maestro.
Brisson spends the first six pages of the story setting the table. He never directly shows the Maestro in his human or Hulked-out form, which adds a sense of dread to the whole thing. In fact, in the beginning of the book, he goes out of his way to make readers think that maybe the old man in the shadows of a Fort Wells bar is Logan himself. Throughout the entire book, up until Logan is brought before him, the Maestro isn’t seen and is only referred to by the people of the town as “the King”. It builds tension, leaving readers with a sense of unease and it makes the “reveal” of the Maestro (in the book; they put him on the cover) that much more powerful.
It all culminates in a short vicious fight between Logan and the Maestro that hits home the monstrousness that Brisson has been building up for “Old Man” Bruce the whole book. Logan has slowed down immensely since the last time the two of them fought, his body breaking down as his healing factor degrades. Because of his capture, his original plan is thrown out the window, so he does what he’s always done and jumps right into harm’s way. He immediately realizes how much of a mistake this is. It’s a testament to the character’s innate heroism that he even tries to fight the Maestro head on, but he knows it’s a futile gesture and pays for it. Characterization has been a hallmark of Brisson’s run on the book, and it’s moments like this that prove he understands Logan as a man. Logan, in any incarnation, is the kind of guy who jumps in head first to any dangerous situation so he can save others. It’s who he is, and, no matter what the odds, he’s jumping. Unfortunately, in his weakened state, that comes back to haunt him, and Brisson has no problems showing readers that.
Ibraim Roberson and Carlos Lopez work together to create some wonderful pages. There’s a long shot of the town under the Maestro’s rule as Logan is brought to the Maestro that captures the bleakness of the town’s situation, with people hauling bodies around and cars and building destroyed as the snow falls, and everything gets progressively darker as it stretches to the church where the Maestro holds court. The reveal of the Maestro in the church is another great shot, which harkens back to the reveals of evil god-kings in fantasy literature and movies, reinforcing the image of Maestro as the monstrous ruler of the town. The fight between Logan and Maestro is well laid out and visceral. The images lay out the contest perfectly, and again gives readers the feel of the classic underdog fight in a fantasy story, like Fingolfin fighting Morgoth in The Silmarillion. Maestro is larger than life, looming powerfully over Logan. Throughout the book, the artists work together to supply exactly the kind of imagery that Brisson’s deft script needs to have the impact it deserves, and they do it beautifully.
Old Man Logan #48 is probably one of the best issues of Ed Brisson’s run. He weaves strands of horror, superheroism, and fantasy together to create what amounts to a nearly-perfect first issue of a story arc. It sets the scene for what’s to come, and builds tension and anticipation, giving readers everything they need to get invested. The art is detailed and powerful, complimenting the script and giving it the tools it needs to wow readers. This is a comic that does everything right.