Sunday, January 17, 2010

THE OTHER LOGAN RETURNS - - no claws required

          I’m very happy to see a return of more pure science fiction series in comics.  As much as I may enjoy the Annihilation Saga at Marvel and Adam Strange at DC - - they still seem  like superhero tales, just transported to outer space locales.  However, series like the adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?  from Boom Studios get me more excited  and prove that there is a market in comics for science-fiction themed tales that don’t involve super-powered characters.  

          Back in my early popular culture exploration days I read a science fiction novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson (first published in 1967) that made an impression on me on several levels. For one, it was a fast-paced and thoroughly engaging thriller with lots of action, creative characters and situations.  On a deeper level, it posed some semi-serious questions about our values and culture and supplied an extreme solution to how overpopulation and depletion of resources could be handled in the future.  It was made into  a movie in 1976, which I also saw during it’s initial run in theaters.  The movie seemed much lighter and upbeat compared to the darker tones of the novel.  While I enjoyed it, I remember being a little disappointed that it didn’t exactly follow the storyline of the novel, changed several important things around, and left out quite a bit of explanation.

The book and movie were called LOGAN’S RUN. It still remains popular today among those of us with longer memories.  During the same time as its initial theatrical run, Marvel published a Logan’s Run comic series which adapted the movie and then continued the story.  It lasted seven issues and is more memorable for showcasing some of the early work of artist George Perez rather than any story or writing highlights.   There was also a short-lived television series that I have no recollection of at all.  And, somehow I missed the mini-series from Malibu Graphics in the 1980’s that adapted some of the stories from two of the trilogy of novels (Logan’s Run 1967, Logan’s World 1977 and Logan’s Search 1980).

          January 2010 marks the return of Logan with the first issue of LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY.  This treatment should turn out to be much truer to the source material as the story outline and themes, as well as outfits and design have been created by original writer William F. Nolan (assisted by new writing partner Jason Brock).  Dialogue and scripting chores as well as further development of the story will be handled by writer Paul Salamoff.   If you enjoy seeing  interesting science fiction themes depicted in the visual medium of comics then you and  I will be following this monthly series (scheduled for 24 issues, with four separate six-issue story arcs)

LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY #1  (Bluewater Productions)  Paul Salamoff writer; Daniel Gete, artist (scheduled for release to comic stores on January 27, 2010)

logans run cover

          Actions first, explanations later.  I love the first five pages of this issue.  The writer and artist give us some pieces of the puzzle but provide no direction yet on how to interlock them to see the whole picture.  It’s not clear whether we should cheer for the runner or the pursuers.  If it was based on their clothing, we might chose the more colorful, brightly garbed citizens including the one who is obviously fleeing for his life.  The enforcement officers appear very menacing and dark, making it unclear whether they serve a just cause.  You wouldn’t necessarily consider them the heroes (unless of course you only read The Punisher books).

          Writer Paul Salamoff begins with a very engaging way of exposing the reader to just a few of the key components of Logan’s world, and without much explanation.  Even though I’m familiar with the original story,  and  I knew exactly what he was referring to,  my curiosity was still aroused.   The dialogue mentions “runners” and “flowers”. The suspect’s biography is described in periods of “color” rather than age levels.  What is a “DS man” ?  Who is “Ballard”?  What is  “Sanctuary”?   The cornered runner begs to be taken to “Deep Sleep” rather than face the consequences with his pursuers, who work for the “Almighty Thinker.”   

   logan's alt cover 2  logan's alt cover 3       If Logan's alt coverI have any criticism of this book, it’s that it may be a little difficult and challenging for a brand new reader to Logan’s Run.  It’s going to require more than one reading to develop a sense of what is occurring so far.  However, that may be the one thing that encourages readers to pick up the next issue and continue with the series.   It’s a familiar game plan if you follow some of the more popular action series on television these days, especially “Lost” , “24”, “Flash Forward”,  “Heroes”, etc.  The viewer doesn’t get a clear picture of the complexity of the story until much later or sometimes not until the very end. 

          The trick is to engage that viewer or reader’s attention in the beginning, and issue #1 of LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY seems to accomplish that purpose.   Salamoff appear particularly adept and comfortable with this style, as he ought to. He’s been working in films and television for 20 years as a writer, director, effects and makeup artist.

          Daniel Gete seems a perfect fit / complement as artist for this series.  His art is equally creative and engaging and I’m going to enjoy viewing his work.  I wasn’t able to find any biographical information on the web about him, but I suspect he’s a newer artist and it’s going to be great fun watching him employ and develop his style.  I see traces of the influence of George Perez, Paul Gulacy and Jim Steranko in his drawings, especially in both the lean, streamlined appearance of many of the characters as well as their fluidity of movements.  The first five pages of LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY are as much a showcase for him as they are for Salamoff.

Lastday1_01

          Gete makes good use of multiple and wide-screen horizontal panels, especially on page one where a scene of a runner fleeing through a crowded thoroughfare is depicted from the knees down.   Page two, where we get our first full frontal look at Logan 6 in his black armor and menacing death mask/ helmet,  is very intimidating as Logan appears to be running off the page directly at us.   The angles and depth in this panel are perfectly depicted, down to the shadow underneath Logan’s elevated and extended foot as he runs after his prey.

          The horizontal borderless panels on page five remind me of Steranko’s work on NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.  as they boldly dramatize the finality of this encounter with just a single one-word “sound effect” added for emphasis.

          The Logan 6 as conceived by Salamoff here appears cold and calculating, as if he knows more than he will say.  That’s already a change in personality from the movie and the Marvel series, one that makes him more intriguing.

          Salamoff does get around  to providing more details and explanation of how this future society runs as the story moves on , and I appreciate the way this is done through flashback. School children are quizzed by their robotic instructors on the meaning of the different colors of the “palm flowers” and we learn what they already know as they provide the answers.    I also like the way that the background/history of Logan is revealed through the flashback scenes. These are all depicted on pages with black backgrounds and earthier sepia tones rather than the white background and vivid colors of the scenes that take place in current time.  Credit colorist Baker for some fine work.

  Back to the story.  Logan uses the information he finds out this issue to pose as a “runner” in an attempt to gain access to “Sanctuary”.  As he seems about to accomplish this goal in the very last panel, the grim image of his intensely focused eyes peering out of a shadowed countenance make it unclear if his motives are pure or manipulative.  This is a great beginning.

         I deliberately avoided explaining too much of this future Earth society or focusing on it’s central themes in order to keep some surprises intact for new readers.  I’m excited and happy that LOGAN”S RUN: LAST DAY appears that it will do justice to the original work.

NEXT:  LEARNING ABOUT THE ORIGINAL CREATOR, WILLIAM F. NOLAN

1 comment:

  1. I've just learned that Daniel Gete is from Spain, and this is his very first work. That makes it even more impressive. I will definitely be following his future work.

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