Publisher: Marvel Comics
All-New Wolverine Vol. 1: The Four Sisters – 24 May 2016
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All-New Wolverine Vol. 2: Civil War II – 8 November 2016
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All-New Wolverine Vol. 3: Enemy of the State II – 3 May 2017
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All-New Wolverine Vol. 4: Immune – 29 November 2017
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All-New Wolverine Vol. 5: Orphans of X – 27 February 2018
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All-New Wolverine Vol. 6: Old Woman Laura – 24 July 2018
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Prepare yourself for an all-new Wolverine in this exciting new series from Tom Taylor and a skilled team of Marvel artists, as one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe, X-23, rises to take the place of one of comic’s most beloved superheroes.
Following the death of the original Wolverine, Logan, in the 2014 series Death of Wolverine, Marvel chose to elevate his clone and surrogate daughter, X-23, to the role of Wolverine. Starting in 2015, the All-New Wolverine series followed X-23 as she took on the moniker of Wolverine and made it her own. Originally running between November 2015 and May 2018, the series is made up of 35 issues. These issues have been assembled together into six collected editions, which were released between May 2016 and July 2018. With the upcoming return of the original Wolverine to the Marvel Universe, All-New Wolverine has been cancelled, and the character has reverted back to the X-23 moniker, with a new X-23 series having just started.
I have been a major fan of X-23 for years, and find her to be one of the most interesting characters in the entire Marvel Universe. As a result, I was excited to see how she would be utilised as the new Wolverine, and have been keenly collecting all the volumes in this series. I had originally intended to review the latest volume, Old Woman Laura, by itself; however, as this volume ends the series, I thought I would take this opportunity to review the entire series in one go.
The protagonist of this series, the brand new Wolverine, Laura Kinney, is a fascinating example of character creation, and it has been intriguing to see how this character has evolved over the last 15 years. Originally known by the code name X-23, the character was first introduced in 2003, in the season 3 episode of the X-Men Evolution animated television series, X23, and was established as a female clone of Wolverine created by an evil scientific organisation. In her first appearance in X-Men Evolution, X-23 took out every single X-Man and went toe-to-toe with Wolverine himself, only stopping when he broke through to her emotionally. This was a surprisingly dark episode for kids cartoon, but the fun appeal of a young female Wolverine and her sheer badassary quickly made Laura a fan favourite character, and her transference in the comic universe was quickly established. These days most people would recognise the character from her amazing appearance in the 2017 film Logan, played by young actor Dafne Keen, which showed a slightly altered version of her origin story.
Her first appearance within the main comic Marvel Universe happened in the 2004 series NYX, where she was shown to be living in New York City. She was later introduced to the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men 450, with her origin story fleshed out in two limited series. The first of these series, Innocence Lost, looked at her creation, early life, training and missions as part of the institute that created her, as well as the relationship she had with her mother and their attempts to escape the institute. The second series, Target X, follows on directly after Innocence Lost and focuses on Laura’s attempts to start a life outside of the institution, her interactions with her mother’s family and the pursuit that would haunt her for the rest of her life. This second short series also shows how she ends up in New York in NYX and her first interactions with Wolverine, and is framed as a retelling of her life story to Captain America and Daredevil. Both of these series are extremely well written and serve as an excellent introduction to the character.
After her introduction, X-23 appeared in a number of different series including Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, New X-Men and Marvel Team-Up. She was a major character in Volume 3 of X-Force and appeared in key roles in several of the larger X-Men storylines. She obtained another X-23 series in 2010, before having starring roles in Avengers Academy, Avengers Arena and All-New X-Men. Following The Death of Wolverine, Laura was involved in some of the following storylines dealing with his death before taking up the role of Wolverine herself.
This series was created by Australian author Tom Taylor and a rotating roster of Marvel authors. Taylor has a range of writing experience in a number of different formats, including theatre, musicals, books and television, and has also created an animated series, The Deep. Over the last 10 years, Taylor has worked on several different comic books, including several Star Wars series, some Injustice series, Superior Iron Man and Green Lantern Corps. The original art style and new character design for the series was developed by veteran artist David Lopez, and the other artists closely replicated his style.
The first volume of the All-New Wolverine, The Four Sisters, sees Laura newly in the role of Wolverine and keen to honour the name by becoming a non-lethal hero. In this volume, she encounters four clones of herself that are being hunted by the sinister corporation who created them. In order to save them, Laura must work with several other Marvel heroes, such as Dr Strange, Wasp and her boyfriend, Angel (the young one transported from a past timeline). The volume ends with Laura taking in one of the surviving clones, the young girl Gabby, who becomes one of the main characters in the series. This book is a fantastic introduction to this new incarnation of the character, and it sets the tone for the rest of the issues.
Volume 2 of the series, Civil War II, starts with Laura teaming up with Squirrel Girl in a zany escapade to save a squirrel Laura wronged in the previous volume, while also introducing the actual wolverine Jonathan, who becomes Laura and Gabby’s pet. The second adventure in this volume sees Laura and Gabby help SHIELD, Iron Man and Captain Marvel fight against the giant monster Fin Fang Foom. During this story, Laura and Gabby encounter and rescue the Old Man Logan version of Wolverine. While the first two issues are both fun significant, the main storyline of this volume ties into the Civil War II crossover event. The Inhuman Ulysses has a vision of Logan killing Gabby, so SHIELD and Captain America attempt to intervene, but the confusion and chaos that follows only results in tragedy. This sees an exciting tie-in to one of Marvel’s more intriguing and high-profile recent crossover events, and this volume also helps highlight the discord and disagreement that the other Marvel heroes were experiencing in the main Civil War II event. Seeing Logan’s alternate world connections to Laura and Gabby is rather interesting, and the reveal of Gabby’s full potential as Laura’s main side character is amazing.
The third volume, Enemy of the State II, sees the return of Laura’s arch-nemesis and sadistic former handler, Kimura, who is once again determined to make Laura’s life a living hell. After engineering the massacre of a small town with Wolverine present, Kimura forces Laura and Gabby into hiding as part of a terrible plan to control Laura once again. However, Gabby, with the help of Angel, Gambit, young Jean Grey and Nick Fury Jnr, has a plan to free Laura once and for all from the terror of Kimura. This is probably the most emotional volume in the series, dealing with the protagonist’s biggest fear: being turned into a killing machine once again. Enemy of the State II is strongly connected to both of the original X-23 series, especially Target X, and represents a massive turning point for the character. It is fantastic to see some of these storylines concluded and Laura given the happy ending she’s been denied for so long.
Volume 4, Immune, takes Wolverine up into the stars for an intergalactic adventure. When an alien ship crash lands on Roosevelt Island, the dying alien child piloting it has time to whispers one name: Laura Kinney. Within minutes, the island is infected with a fast-acting alien virus and is immediately quarantined. Laura travels to the island and must work with Gabby, Ironheart, Logan, Daken and Deadpool to cure the disease. Laura, Gabby and Jonathan than travel into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy in order to trace the origins of the alien virus, but they find a far more dangerous threat on the planet they visit. This is a very fun volume that includes some notable team-ups, while at the same time really highlighting Laura’s potential for heroism. This serves as a fantastic example of a really well-done one-off intergalactic adventure for a terrestrial based series and proves to be very entertaining. It is probably the most laugh-out-loud funny volume in the series, with some remarkable interactions with characters such as Deadpool and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The fifth volume of this series, Orphans of X, goes deeper into the mythology of Wolverine, as the only weapon that had the power to kill him, the Murumasa Blade, is recovered and unleashed upon his children. A mysterious organisation known as the Orphans of X is hunting down and killing all of the Marvel mutants with claws and a healing factor. Laura, Gabby and Daken must find a way to defend themselves from these devastating and well-coordinated attacks, but find themselves conflicted once they find out the truth behind the Orphans of X. This is another heavy and emotional volume with a great story premise behind it. This one ties into both Innocence Lost and Target X, and shows the devastating consequences of the Laura’s childhood missions.
The final volume, Old Woman Laura, contains an interesting mixture of stories. The first issue features Gabby and Deadpool teaming up to take down the scientific laboratory that Jonathan was rescued from in Volume 2. The second story follows on from the Orphans of X storyline, and sees Laura and Amber Griffen, the daughter of one of Laura’s first kills, team up to take down the person who ordered the hit. The final story is set far in the future and sees an older Laura and Gabby go on their final mission together in order rescue their long-lost sister, Bellona, from a dystopian landscape ruled by Dr Doom. These are some intriguing and diverse stories, and it serves as a good wrap-up to the entire series. The two team-ups in the first two adventures are very fun, while the issues showing the potential future for All-New Wolverine’s main characters is an intriguing and emotional affair that has some nice closing thoughts for this series.
A recurring theme throughout this series is Laura’s attempt to build on her character and to move past her childhood of being raised to be a vicious killer. Now, as Wolverine, she’s trying to live up to the legacy of her father, the original Wolverine, and become a non-lethal superhero, even though she will still maim many of her opponents. Taylor does a good job of conveying the guilt and responsibility that Laura feels. There are times where Laura thinks back to her past with Wolverine, seeing herself in his shoes. Like the original Wolverine, Laura establishes and maintains relationships with many of the other heroes in the Marvel Universe, most of whom find her to be a worthy replacement for Wolverine, even if they are surprised that she wanted to take on the mantle. There are also elements of family involved in this story, as not only does Laura take responsibility for Gabby, but she becomes closer to members of the Wolverine family, including Daken and Old Man Logan.
This series is a bit lighter than you’d expect of a series focusing on Wolverine or X-23, and perhaps this ties into the overarching feeling of redemption that Taylor was trying to infuse into the story. There is actually a huge amount of humour included within the various issues, including several crazy adventures and some real laugh-out-loud moments. Examples of this include Squirrel Girl randomly showing up to declare that Laura has “wronged the squirrel world” and bringing along a real life wolverine to help get her point across (she was under the impression that Wolverine could understand real life wolverines, just like Squirrel Girl can understand squirrels). Another of the series’ really funny scenes occurs when a serious conversation is interrupted by two burglars who break into the apartment and come face to face with Wolverine, Old Man Logan and Gabby. Having all three characters break down laughing as they consider just how unlucky these burglars are is a fun, hilarious scenario.
While All-New Wolverine has a somewhat lighter tone, Taylor is still able to produce some deep and emotional stories throughout the series. Many of these darker and more emotional stories are tied into the main character’s tragic past. It is great to see several of the old storylines wrapped up, and I was glad to see Laura reunited with the family who was forced to go into hiding.
For me, one of the best parts of the All-New Wolverine is the introduction of new character Gabby, who becomes the secondary protagonist of this series. Gabby is a young clone of Laura who has many of her abilities and training. However, due to protection she experienced from her clone sisters, Gabby grew up without the emotional damage that Laura and other members of the Wolverine family experienced. As a result, Gabby has a very funny and bubbly personality, as well as kick-ass combat skills, retractable claws and a healing factor. Given the moniker Honey Badger, Gabby ends up accompanying Laura on a range of missions, and proves to be quite a capable field agent. Much of the series’ comedy comes about because of her antics, as well as her humorous interactions with other members of the Marvel Universe, which sees her pull funny moments and comments out of several usually serious characters. Her instant friendship with Deadpool is comedy gold, and the two play off each other wonderfully, easily stealing the show in the issues they feature in together. Despite her major humorous overtones, Gabby does get serious when it comes to protecting her family, and she has several intense moments, as well as scenes where she makes scary threats in order to protect her sister. Laura’s relationship with Gabby is a major part of the series, and it is great to see Laura mirror the role Wolverine had in her life as a mentor and parent. Gabby is definitely one of my favourite new Marvel characters of the last couple of years, and I’m really hoping that she’ll have a similar role in the new X-23 series and will continue to have some insane adventures in the future.
Lopez and the other artists of the All-New Wolverine series have created a great style for this series, and I loved the new costumes that they pulled together for Laura, as well as the original and unique look of Gabby. There are some slight variations in drawing style between the various books, but the artists keep the style somewhat consistent throughout the series. There are a number of drawn scenes throughout the book that are particularly beautiful or memorable for various reasons. The final battle between Laura and Kimura in Volume 3 is very dark and brooding, but the artists are able to show the raw emotion on Laura’s face as she finally frees herself from Kimura’s shadow. I was also particularly drawn to the striking drawings of the Hand assassins in Volume 5, where the assassins wore the masks of the Orphan X organisation. The artists are also able to draw some funny pieces into their work. The potential comic cover art that Gabby imagines when she finally comes up with a superhero moniker, Honey Badger, is fantastic, especially as several classic Wolverine covers are replaced with Gabby’s evilly smiling face. I can also barely describe the awesomeness of the drawings in Volume 4 of the series, which see Gabby and Jonathon play with Baby Groot in the background in several funny scenes. Overall, the art displayed in this series is fun and has many uses to enhance the story.
Overall, All-New Wolverine is a fantastic, entertaining and really enjoyable series that promotes one of Marvel Comics’ most unique characters into the role of Wolverine. Featuring some amazing uses of humour, an excellent new supporting character and some deep, emotional storylines, this is an incredible series that is well worth getting into. I am definitely keen to check out the new X-23 series that has just been released, and I will also be looking into the new X-Men Red series from the Australian creator of All-New Wolverine, Tom Taylor, which will feature both Laura and Gabby. A perfect read for long term fans of the X-23 and the X-Men series, and also a great introduction to the comic universe if you loved X-23 in Logan.
My Rating (Series and Each Volume):