Science Fiction January!
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Logan’s Run #2
A sci-fi movie visits my hometown
Written – David Kraft
Artist – George Perez
Inker – Klaus Janson
Letters – Joe Rosen
Colorist – Klaus Janson
Editor – Archie Goodwin
Adapted from the screenplay by – David Zelag Goodman
What a surprise this little blast from the past turned out to be!
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the subject matter. I know Logan’s Run like it was the back of my hand (or perhaps that should be the color of my life clock crystal). The movie came out in 1976 and made a pretty big splash. The film starred Michael York, Jenny Agutter, and in possibly her only big-screen role, Charlie’s favorite angel Farrah Fawcett.
The box office it made was big enough to garner a TV series the following year that reworked the plot of the movie quite a bit. It lasted 14 episodes before being “terminated,” the short-lived concept having been literally run into the ground.
The comic in my hands is a slim volume that covers one-fifth of the original movie’s story. Marvel optioned it and a follow up series that lasted two additional issues before being canned. David Kraft adapted the screenplay with very little added nonsense. The biggest surprise, aside from the short number of pages in this issue was the art. Happily George Perez was along for the ride as this was the second of his first color books for the House of Ideas. Likewise, we had a competent inker in the form of a young Klaus Janson to add a layer of depth over Perez’s pencils.
The movie story of Logan’s Run was adapted from a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Published in 1967, the novel depicted a dystopian future in which no one is allowed to live beyond the age of 21. The person’s age can be found out by looking at a crystal embedded in their palm that changes color as they age: yellow is 0-6 years old, blue is ages 7-13, red is ages 14-20, then blinking red until your birthday at 21 where it becomes black.
The technical term for this was Lastday and on that day, a citizen was required to report to a Sleepshop where they were executed via pleasure inducing toxic gas. Runners were people who opted to escape to a mythic place called Sancturary, which lay somewhere out side the giant domed city (in the book, it is actually on Mars). Logan 3 is a Sandman, a police officer of sorts whose sole job is to hunt down Runners and terminate them.
Here the movie deviates from the book greatly. In the book Logan decides to run when he reaches his Lastday. In the movie, Lastday doesn’t occur until the person reaches 30 and is accomplished by a weird ritual called Carrousel, where people float around an anti-gravity sport stadium while being shot with laser beams. An entire religious brainwashing of the population makes the palatable as the going line of thought is that everyone is reborn into their next clone.
The central computer decides to alter Logan 3’s time crystal to show that he is nearing Lastday and to have him infiltrate the Runners trying to reach Sanctuary. Logan, already thinking that rebirth isn’t real and doubting the system that created it, decides to run for real. His best friend Francis, also a Sandman, vows to track him down and kill him. Lots of running, shooting and weird ice robots named Box ensue.
I loved the movie as a kid. Not just because I was sci-fi buff, but because the ending scenes, where the runners attempt to break back into the domed city via the water purification center, were filmed in my backyard. Fort Worth Water Gardens, an exquisite and unique park, was used as a backdrop and all of the local papers talked about it at the time.
(Later on, the same location would also be used in the PBS film “The Lathe of Heaven.”)
Sadly, this issue is way before those movie scenes, so no chance of seeing my hometown's slice of culture, but on to this short-lived and short-paged comic we must go! We only get 17 pages of art/story in this one which feels light. Logan’s Run was a long movie and the decision to stretch it to five issues (Star Wars had six and Battlestar Galactica got three, if memory serves) was fine, but I believe that Kraft could have tacked on some additional scenes if he wanted here or there. Instead it is played pretty straight if a little short.
At the start of our issue with Logan rushing in to speak with Francis while he is bathing. Logan pesters him with questions about Renewal and expresses a bit more doubt that he probably should. Francis blows him off to continue his bath in private by holding his breath and going underwater. Francis knows Logan is twenty-five, but he doesn’t know Logan’s lifeclock has been sped up by the central computer.
Logan is accosted by the other Sandman before leaving who want him to toss around a medicine ball.
But holding the “ball of recapping last issue,” Logan realizes that he has…
Storming back to his apartment, Logan summons a young lady from the prior evening who is brazenly wearing the symbol of Sanctuary on her choker.
Logan begs her to help him find his way to Sanctuary. At this point the audience doesn’t know if Logan is being honest or if he is fulfilling his mission. Jessica also seems a bit doubtful that he is telling the truth. This is the part of the film that was kind of neat: the “is he/isn’t he” going to become a real runner question. In this issue it becomes very clear he is being truthful.
Logan follows her to a a meeting in another part of the city…or really a scene from the movie set in the food court of a shopping mall, where Jessica meets with other people who will soon be runners. They don’t trust Logan and vow to kill him because they rightly believe he might be a spy. Because she has little choice, Jessica agrees to go along with terminating Logan.
Jessica meets with Logan and tells him that the other seekers have agreed to take him to Sanctuary. Jessica then leads him into a trap.
Before they can strike, Logan’s pager goes off, which means there is a runner he has to find and terminate.
As the resistance cell scatters, Logan and Jessica head to a VERY seedy part of the city. The resistance decides to follow him in hopes of picking him off.
Likewise, Logan’s friend Francis goes in to provide him backup, although part of thinks this is just a ruse to go in and perhaps spy on Logan, given his recent chats that seem a bit subversive.
At the same time, Logan and Jessica rush to Cathedral followed by members of the resistance cell.
Cathedral is a lawless region in the city ruled by gangs of children. They kill anyone over sixteen and are constantly tweeking on drugs called “muscle.” I’ll let Logan explain the rest.
In Cathedral, we finally get out action scene, as the kids jump out of hiding to attack Logan and Jessica…
All this fighting ends with Logan…talking them out of hurting the adults? Seriously? Hmm…that’s not where I expected it to go, but okay. And his point to Billy does seem a bit on the nose. Billy is facing the same concern that Logan is: death before his natural hour.
Logan almost makes his point, but then the kids decide to watch the adults twitch themselves to death by feeding them some of the muscle drugs and Logan moves to save himself and Jessica.
Even as he is blasting the kids, he still reaches out to Billy, trying to show that his time is fast approaching and maybe he should look to rejoin society.
Billy gives Logan his answer as he escapes. With the kids out of the way, Jessica and Logan resume their search for the runner. Jessica still has some doubts about Logan.
Those doubts vanish when she sees what Logan does for the young woman, giving her the ankh key he took from the other fallen runner in issue one.
Then he releases the girl, and leaves her.
She doesn’t get far as something off panel appears to do her grave harm.
Logan and Jessica assume it was the cubs and since there is nothing they can do, they head back to the city. Jessica’s resistance cell, seeing only the pair leaving together after hearing the runner’s screams, assume they are responsible. Deciding that Jessica is a traitor to the cause, they make plans to kill them both.
Meanwhile in the wilds of Cathedral we find that it wasn’t the cubs that offed the lady runner…it was Francis! He now knows his friend has thrown off his duty and protected a runner, thus setting up a conflict between them that will eventually result in the death of himself or Logan.
And that’s where we end, with two factions working to see him dead Logan will have little chance but to run and little help in doing so.
Neat adaptation with great art, is my verdict. If I see anymore of these I will snag them, even issues 6 & 7 which were Tom Sutton pencils. Terry Austin and Klaus Janson inked them, respectively, which sounds like some fine sci-fi filler.
As for the books and movies? Logan’s Run was part of three issue trilogy that are available from Audible and Amazon. If you pick them up, just be aware that the ending of the first book is VERY different from the movies (no spoilers) and might temper you liking of it. In all, it asks a few thought provoking ideas about our own mortality and how we face it.
ADDED BONUS: Logan's Words page about Kraft and Perez. Enjoy!