Marvel Comics has a rich and diverse multiverse. These range from the obscure (like Spider-Ham’s) to the more infamous ones like The Age of Apocalypse.
However, in recent years, there’s a new universe that popped up that’s intrigued me like none has (save perhaps Age of Apocalypse or The Ultimates). Marvel’s not coined a proper term for it so I’ll just call it the ‘Old Man’ universe.
The ‘Old Man’ universe is the setting for Old Man Logan, Old Man Hawkeye and recently, Old Man Quill.
A version of it was created for the big screen in the movie Logan, but it still omitted a lot of essential plot points that the comics version has.
Created by ex-Wolverine scribe Mark Millar, the world of Old Man Logan is a bleak place where villains rule all. In this world, the villains finally banded together and worked in unison to take out most of the world’s heroes. Most are dead, while those that are left are broken and disillusioned from their total defeat.
What makes this universe (known as Earth-807128) so unique is that it’s so similar to Earth-616 (the main Marvel universe) that it could conceivably be the future. But that’s not the best part; there’s a gold mine of stuff that’s still hidden about this universe and Marvel knows it, carefully drip feeding fans bits and pieces of what came before.
Intrigue has always been an integral part of comics and no recent Marvel creation has hit it off perfectly in this regard than Old Man Logan. Luckily for us, Marvel seems to be aware of this and are slowly rolling out titles set in this ruined Earth.
Old Man Hawkeye (a prequel to the Old Man Logan series) showed us a small portion of the villain takeover, with Hawkeye and his team betrayed by the Thunderbolts and then massacred. The new Old Man Quill series takes the series into the cosmos, as a devastated Star-Lord returns to Earth to find it in the hands of villains and the majority of heroes dead.
The intriguing thing about the ‘Old Man’ universe isn’t how it’ll turn out, after all, we already know the bad guys won. The big hook is finding out how it turned out that way. Everything that was set up in Old Man Logan was just done in broad strokes and it’s only via the offshoot comics that the world is slowly being revealed to us, though at a glacier pace.
That’s why it’s imperative that Marvel maintains this intrigue and builds upon it. True, we already know what happened but there’s still a ton of room to show us the events as they took place, which was a big part of why I love Old Man Hawkeye.
Plus, it’s always interesting finding out how the survivors have been changed by the new world order; Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) for example, has turned into a savior of sorts, running her own hidden enclave in deep in the wastelands. Songbird, haunted by her betrayal of Clint and the other heroes, became a nun, hoping to redeem herself for her past sins. Bullseye, is now the Red Skull’s cybernetic enforcer, who’s sent to quell disturbances whenever they arise.
Marvel sorely needs to maintain this universe carefully, adding in to the lore intelligently while still keeping it relatively unchanging. I don’t want redemption for the world in where the heroes ultimately rise up and win. I want this broken world, where survival is at the whim of super villains, where heroes don’t exist no more.
It’s a refreshing change of pace to the status quo of Earth-616, where no matter how dire things get, the heroes will always get back on top. Every. Single. Time.
Look at Age of Ultron, Dark Reign, Secret Invasion, Onslaught, House of M…Everything always ends with the heroes back in charge, with the villain overthrown.
This is why we sorely need the world of Old Man Logan, because it’s a world where the bad guys win and being good doesn’t do anything but get you killed.