As "

X-Men

Origins:

Wolverine

" continues to enjoy a successful summer at cineplexes, those eager to enjoy more tales of the hero's past are able to go to comic shops and choose from: "Wolverine: Origins," which fills in gaps in the character's long history; "Wolverine: First Class," which tells tales from his early days with the X-Men; and "Wolverine: Weapon X," which tells stories in the present yet also touches on the clawed X-Man's beginnings.

With those titles on the shelves, it would be easy for the regular "Wolverine" title to get lost in the shuffle. However, thanks to writer Mark Millar, that has become impossible. In what has turned out to be a masterstroke, Millar has chosen to tell the tale of a future Logan, rather than delving yet again into the mutant's mysterious past.

With an arc titled, "Old Man Logan," Millar tells the tale of a Logan who is not only considerably older, but who has forsworn violence. As the story begins, Logan has not popped his claws or even raised his voice in nearly 50 years - and refuses to be referred to as Wolverine.

The mystery over how one of the greatest killing machines that ever lived turned into an absolute pacifist drives the book. All that is known is that the change in Logan coincided with the "night the heroes fell," when all the noble beings with superpowers seemed to disappear and evil finally triumphed.

Indeed, in this world that Millar has created, major villains like the Hulk, Dr. Doom and the Kingpin control major portions of the planet, and even minor villains like Paste Pot Pete have cities and creeks named after them.

In this world where hope is all but extinct, Logan has given up on the idea that one man can save the world, and simply wants to tend to his farm and support his family.

Like many, Comics Guy thought that the action-oriented Millar would have Logan provoked into popping his claws sooner rather than later. So, when halfway through the first issue of the arc, Logan is given a choice between having his farm and family threatened by members of the Banner Gang (descendants of the Hulk) and taking a beating as punishment for not having his rent, and we then see a huge panel of him gutting one of the Gang, the response is, "Well, that didn't take long!"

Except, as we quickly learn, the "gutting" was just a daydream. Amazingly, one of the most dangerous men who ever lived takes a severe beating without putting up a fight.

As his friend Hawkeye says after seeing Logan flee from a savage group of bikers and hearing him reaffirm his pacifism, "Yeah, but I didn't think you meant it!"

But he does. Incredibly, the first seven issues of this eight-part arc have passed and Logan has yet to slice or dice anyone.

Despite that, Millar has crafted a wildly entertaining ride for readers, as Logan and Hawkeye embark on a cross-country road trip in the hopes of getting Logan his rent money. It's on this trip that the key question is answered: How did the heroes fall? What traumatic event could have caused Logan to sheathe his claws and renounce the name Wolverine? And can anything hapen that would cause Wolverine to return?

Without giving away anything, Comics Guy just has to say that the end of the just-released "Wolverine" No. 72 includes a single word that fans of the character have seen thousands of times, but will truly savor when "heard" here.

By emphasizing character development over his usual cartoonish violence, Millar has crafted an instant classic - and fans seem to know it. With interest growing every issue, Marvel recently released FOURTH PRINTINGS of issue Nos. 66-70 for those who want to catch up on a story that is quickly becoming Wolverine's equivalent of "The Dark Knight Returns," which is universally recognized as one of the greatest comic stories of all time.

Only time - and the concluding chapter - will tell if "Old Man Logan" will be remembered as fondly. However, it is clear that Millar has crafted an incredible story that, combined with the art of Steve McNiven, makes a strong case for being the best Wolverine story of all time.

Hugh Jackman: Ghostbuster?

Although the "Old Man Logan" storyline now gives Hugh Jackman a greater chance to still be playing Wolverine even when he reaches Sean Connery's age, he is eyeing other comic-based properties as well.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Jackman is attached to a film version of "Ghostopolis," which stars a man who works for the government's Supernatural Immigration Task Force. His job is to send ghosts who have escaped into our world back to Ghostopolis. When a living boy is sent to the other side accidentally, the agent must team with a former ghost (and former flame) to bring him back.

To illustrate how hot comic-book properties are in Hollywood right now, the graphic novel on which the "Ghostopolis" film is based has not even been published yet.

Where there's 'Smoke'

Of course, the same can be said of "Billy Smoke," which, according to the Hollywood Reporter, already has Jeffrey Nachmanoff ("Traitor") set to direct and Matthew Fox ("Lost") set to star, despite the fact that the comic it is based on will not be released by publisher Oni Press until later this year.

Created by B. Clay Moore and Eric Kim, "Billy Smoke" is the story of a hitman who is nearly killed during a botched job. He then decides he needs to atone for his past actions by ridding the world of all other assassins. *