If you ask longtime X-Men fans what their favorite series is, you might be surprised to hear All-New Wolverine — it’s a series you wouldn’t expect to be great given its derivative (at face value), but it’s so well written by Tom Taylor it’s hard to ignore even if you dislike the X-Men. The last volume completely surprised me so when I got a chance to review the latest volume I snatched it up. I wasn’t disappointed.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Daken has been kidnapped, and it’s up to Wolverine to find him. But when his trail brings her back to the Facility, the place that tortured and created her, what new horrors will Laura find cooking there? Who, exactly, are the Orphans of X? How are they connected to the Wolverine? And what do they know about Laura and her past?
Why does this matter?
This collection houses All-New Wolverine #25 through #30 focusing on a story about a mystical blade that can harm any of the mutants who have healing factors. This draws Daken, Wolverine, and her clone little sister together in a familiar way that adds meaning to the madness.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
What a cute little beastie.
This volume continues to grow Wolverine in ways that make her more hero than many of the main heroes of the MCU. In the last volume she was willing to give her life to save people who were infected. Again, she risks her life to do the right thing, which adds to an ending that is less about carving up bad guys with her claws and more about showing the rich character Taylor has crafted. Along the way her sister gets to drop one-liners (and finally get a superhero name) and the duo is stronger because of their bond. Daken also plays a surprising role as it appears he’s getting pushed to be more of a hero than ever before.
The more intriguing element Logan fans will take away is the continued adventures of the Muramasa blade. It’s a plot device that can literally kill our heroes, built from the very soul of Wolverine. Taylor adds to the lore of this mystical weapon by creating a rather unique element that can shield these characters from its power.
Wielding this power is the Orphans of X, another terrorist group hellbent on killing Wolverine and her family. Taylor makes these characters whacked out and impressively sadistic via short scenes throughout the collection where they revel and delight in the idea of killing off the race connected to Logan. As they embrace they might say something truly sickening about murder as if they were planting flowers. It adds a nice layer to an overdone thing like terrorists wanting to kill mutants.
Juan Cabal draws a very good collection with a thin line that’s detailed and great at capturing facial expressions. There’s a very interesting use of blank space which adds a cinematic element to the art. Sticking a character front and center can be effective, but not if you do it all the time. The Orphans of X are creepy as hell due to the framing in a lot of scenes as we see the embrace of a hand rather than a full shot of the characters. Even select panels focusing on someone’s lips as they speak heightens the tension of a scene. Overall great stuff.
These people are sick.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Unfortunately the very end is rushed and doesn’t feel very natural. Wolverine does her big heroic push to stop the violence and Taylor has the villains do an about-face, deciding to stop being the sadistic killers they were the entire series. With how good the quiet scenes are with Orphans of X characters relishing the idea of murdering, to see them simply agree with Wolverine is hard to believe. Yes she put herself on the line and gave the enemy what they wanted–strong messages I think people can learn from–but the comic goes from a no-way-out moment to everything being resolved on the next page.
Is It Good?
A good volume indeed, especially if you’re interested in the Wolverine family. Taylor does an excellent job adding to the mystical elements while bringing this family closer together.