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I don't read a lot of comics, and most of those I do are from DC or indie publishers. However, I recently picked up Old Man Logan just because I liked the art (that's the only usual reason I read any comic books at all).

The storyline, however, perhaps unsurprisingly, confused me a little. In particular I wasn't sure how The Hulk ended up as one of the central villains of the piece - my understanding was that in the Marvel stable he was generally treated as a hero, albeit an exceptionally unreliable one.

I presumed this was just some alternate timeline stuff, which would be supported by the device in the comic that its version of Banner got an extra-large dose of radiation, driving Banner to insanity. Although it's interesting to note that all the other characters in the comic conform to their traditional roles, which raises the question of why Millar chose the Hulk to act as a major antagonist.

However elsewhere on the net - including here - examples from Old Man Logan are given as canonical answers to queries about Hulk and the X-Men. If it's set in an alternate timeline, surely it can't be canonical?

So what's the deal here? Is my misunderstanding down to my inexperience of the genre? Is the comic considered canon or not? And if it is, how did the Hulk end up to be so nasty?

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I think this might need to be split into two questions. 1. Is "Old Man Logan" considered canon? and 2. What caused the Hulk to turn into the villain he is depicted as in "Old Man Logan"? –  Monty129 Jun 17 at 12:14
    
@Monty129 Possibly, but the answers are heavily linked. If it's not canon, the answer is heavily hinted at in the comic (although it's interesting to note that none of the other characters have radically different roles). If it is canon, then the question remains open. I'll leave it as a moderator decision, but if y'all want it split, I'll split it. –  Matt Thrower Jun 17 at 12:32
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Looking at the artwork you would think that Wolverine's regenerative ability would have had him age more slowly. He looks kind of old in this lol, even if it's set 50 years in the future. –  DoctorWho22 Jun 17 at 13:40
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There's a reason that he begins to age...it's a great book so I won't spoil it. I think that the answer to the question is as simple as "Banner went crazy over time." Given the events in OML, Banner would have been cut off from the people that helped keep him grounded... –  Chris B. Behrens Jun 17 at 14:00

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I’m not entirely clear whether you’re asking how Hulk became villainous in the universe of Old Man Logan, or why Millar, out-of-universe, chose to make this traditionally heroic character villainous.

In-universe, nothing is confirmed, in keeping with the post-apocalyptic setting. Banner mentions rumours that radiation sickness sent him insane — if true, that would explain his out-of-character nasty behaviour. Also bear in mind that Old Man Logan is set 50 years after supervillains have taken over America, so there’s a lot of scope for extreme events before the comic taking their toll on the few surviving heroes.

(Regarding whether the events of the comic are canon, they’re probably best considered as a What-If or an alternate universe, but this is comics, so continuity gets weird and involved. Is Marvel 2099 canon? What about Marvel Zombies?)

Out-of-universe, I haven’t been able to find any statements from Millar on the subject. However, looking at it speculatively:

  1. Old Man Logan was published in 2008 and 2009. 2007 saw the World War Hulk storyline, where the Hulk became an antagonist against most of the rest of the Marvel universe after being subjected to extreme circumstances. So the use of the character in Old Man Logan didn’t come completely out of the clear blue sky.

  2. Whatever character was chosen for this role needed to be strong enough to survive the slaughter and subsequent decades of chaos, take over post-apocalyptic California, and be a credible match for Wolverine himself. The Hulk fits the bill pretty well.

  3. Having a character like the Hulk turn dark really emphasises the fact that this is a world gone bad. It’s not just a known villain like Abomination in control of Canada, it’s Bruce Banner himself, and the redneck family he’s created by mating with his cousin, She-Hulk. We are not in Kansas any more.

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It's also worth noting that Wolverines First appearance was as a "villain" in an Incredible Hulk story en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  Dan Kelly Jun 20 at 10:43
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@DanKelly: I DECIDE WHAT’S WORTH NOTING AROUND HERE SUNSHINE –  Paul D. Waite Jun 20 at 15:53

Old Man Logan's world has it's own number. It's Earth-90210 (maybe it gets Beverly Hills Zip code because it's set in California), so it's definitely non-canon.

The map that we see on every issue of OML shows Hulkland and previously being Abomination's territory. Abomination is Hulk's foe, so we can speculate that Hulk, being the strongest there is, defeated Abomination because that's what heroes do.

After that, you have the world (because in Marvel Comics, unless stated otherwise, USA pretty much represents the world) divided amongst villains, all heroes dead or in hiding, and you being basically immortal. It wasn't just the radiation that drove Hulk insane, it was the realization that there was no more world to save. So, what the hell, let's mate with my first cousin and rule my piece of land.

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My own take, and I think that it's fairly well backed up, is that we need to treat "Old Man Logan" for what is, a piece of art, (no questions of high/art low/art or otherwise), in the sense that it is a piece created in a large part by Mark Millar.

In Millar, we can find our answer. From the original "Ultimates" on, we can see a very distinct take on the Hulk that really isn't anything to do with attempting to fit something into canon---but more about Millar's interpretation as an artist. He has consistently, when given a chance to work with the character, portrayed the Hulk as the personification of a very dark inner space of Banner. In the "Ultimates", Hulk was portrayed pretty much as an uncontrollable side of Banner that dealt in heavy themes of sexual aggression and also---like "Old Man Logan", cannibalism.

To not write a novel here---it's not necessary to get into all of the specifics. It's just to say that Hulk is portrayed as a villain in "Old Man Logan" primarily, as is supported by the evidence, because that is Millar's personal take on the character as the writer from whose imagination the story came from. Why Millar likes to depict Hulk like this can take up another conversation---but he does---and this is the reason why Hulk is depicted as he is in Millar's "Logan" story. It isn't about how the story fits or what the "canonical" reasoning would be for it, or even if it is just accepted as alternate to canon, or otherwise. This is like arguing about wrestling like it's real. It is entertainment, borne out of a creator/performer/writer, etc. There are simply themes that Millar returns to when visiting certain Marvel characters, and with the Hulk---be tends to portray him as dangerous and indulging in darker parts of his personality as the Hulk that are uncomfortable, disturbing and not at all "heroic".

In "Old Man Logan", it is even portrayed in the climatic battle that Banner possesses some of the Hulk's strength before physically transforming---and retains Hulk's aggression--indicating that Dr. Jekyll has been completely subsumed at this point by Mr. Hyde, and that Banner has given into every horrible instinct that his Hyde-personality of the Hulk represents. It's even possible, although I don't think he's ever said in an interview, so it's purely my speculation, that Millar may intend to return Banner/Hulk to the pure Jekyll/Hyde roots that inspired the character---in that Hyde---(or the werewolf, if you like the lesser literary influence)---is not at all a good person---he is every dark part of Jekyll unleashed.

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