Issue #71, Cover Study (Gore Cover)

©2009 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.

by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven
Issue #71, Cover Rough (gore cover)
Graphite on paper
Signed by Steve McNiven
8.5" x 11"

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The team that shattered the status quo with the mega-hit Civil War reunited to tell the greatest Wolverine tale of them all –a sort of Unforgiven meets Dark Knight called Old Man Logan.

Mark Millar has been one of the key figures of 21st century comics. Following a series of well-received collaborations with fellow Scotsman Grant Morrison at DC, Millar went solo in 2000 replacing powerhouse writer Warren Ellis on Wildstorm’s hit series The Authority. His controversial, over-the-top approach to the already dynamic superhero action garnered a heap of awards in the UK and America, but caused a bit of friction with publisher DC and Warner Bros, who greatly censored his scripts in an era of post 9/11 sensitivity. This led to his departure from DC, and offers of lucrative work at Marvel. In 2001, following the success of Brian Michael BendisUltimate Spider-Man, he launched Ultimate X-Men. It was huge. The following year he rebooted The Avengers via the title The Ultimates, which proved more popular than the X-Men. It became something of a phenomenon and the brass at Marvel’s film division used it as the source template for no less than four films, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers. He’s also had two big-budget, big-screen blockbusters adapted from his creator-owned titles Wanted and Kick-Ass.

Wolverine has long been a favorite among comic book fans, so when it was announced that Mark Millar would be writing a mature-content, Marvel Knights Wolverine series, fans were ecstatic. The "Enemy of the State" arc pitted a rabid, brainwashed Wolverine against the entire Marvel universe. It was a blood-thirsty romp, considered by fans to be the ultimate Wolverine tale. After a four-year absence from the title, Millar returned with a post-apocalyptic vision of tragic pathos that followed an elderly, retired, and pacifistic Wolverine (addressed by his true name, Logan), and it doesn’t get any better than this. Millar’s Civil War penciler Steve McNiven enhanced his usual adrenaline-rush theatrics with a rougher edge that captures archetypal Clint Eastwood at his wild-western best as funneled through Mad Max if directed by Zak Penn.

The page above is a cover study; the rough, pencil outline of the cover that would eventually be published. An extreme close-up of the titular hero’s face (with bullet wounds exposing the adamantium skull beneath his flesh before his mutant healing factor can repair the damage) reveals the quiet rage that has long been building in Old Man Logan, who long ago vowed to sheath his mighty claws. It’s one of the goriest superhero comic covers ever, and it epitomizes the best of Millar and McNiven’s work together: tough, gritty and barely containing the violence that percolates just beneath the surface.


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