Here at MahMuseComics, we’ve always felt that Laura Kinney, most commonly known as X-23, has a tremendous amount of untapped potential. In fact, back when we ran a series called “A New Breed of X-Men“, where we looked at young mutants who should get their chance in the spotlight, X-23 was one of my choices.
Well, X-23’s moment has come. With Wolverine dead, it makes sense that it falls to Laura, the clone who he adopted as his daughter, to take on his mantle. But how does she do?
This story opens in Paris, France, where Laura is attempting to prevent an assassination. A bad injury is used as an opportunity to recall a conversation between Laura and Wolverine, introducing new readers to the character, and then it’s time for action – she goes head-to-head with the assassin, soon winding up in a situation where she needs a helping hand from her boyfriend, Angel. The close of the issue promises an arc that will continue to explore Laura’s background, further helping readers get used to the new Wolverine.
It’s perhaps useful to contrast this book with Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor. When the mantle of Thor was taken over by Jane Foster, Aaron kept her identity mysterious, and the real story was the mystery of who the female Thor really was. In contrast, Tom Taylor opens with the reality that Laura is the new Wolverine, and so his challenge is to get readers as familiar with his character as possible.
He does this by putting together a really smart plot, where Laura doesn’t even don her mask until ten pages into the comic. When she does, though, it’s a moment that absolutely leaps out of the page, and I don’t mind admitting that I had a fan-moment where I just launched into the X-Men theme-tune!
The plot is excellent, tremendously fun, and really grounds you in the reality of the character. The relationship between Wolverine and Angel is entertaining, with strong characterisation, not to say a great deal of humour (“I didn’t say stop”).
But, of course, ‘plot’ isn’t all there is to any comic. David Lopez and David Navarrot present some superb artwork, creating a wonderfully kinetic book that’s full of stand-out moments – from head-shots to flashbacks, from the breaking of limbs to flight across the Seine. The Parisian environment is beautifully drawn, and everything about the book lends itself perfectly to the beautiful colouring work of Nathan Fairbairn. I consider this book a masterclass in how to write a first issue. If you want to get a sense of how well the team work, take a look at this:
Look at it. Look at the way Wolverine’s lips upturn, look at the detail of light and dark as she pulls the mask over her face. Notice the attention to detail, with strands of her hair still visible through the looser eye-holes. The art is gorgeous.
All-New All-Different Marvel has had some strong issues and some weaker ones, but All-New Wolverine is undoubtedly one of the stronger. This is a book that deserves every success.