Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing All-New Wolverine 3, originally released December 30th, 2015.
Michael: Tom Taylor and Laura Kinney’s first Wolverine adventures continue in All-New Wolverine 3. The story begins with the Wolverine/Taskmaster fight promised at the end of last issue. After Wolverine bests Taskmaster with a surprise foot SNIKT, she regroups with her clone sisters who survived Taskmaster’s attack via body armor. Moving from one action piece to another, the sisters cruise around New York and get into a tank battle with the soldier boys from Alchemax. Laura discovers that her clone sisters Gabby, Zelda and Bellona are prematurely dying and trying to take Alchemax with them on their way out. Laura doesn’t want to accept this however and offers to help the sisters by visiting the Sanctum Sanctorum and enlisting Doctor Stephen Strange.
After reading the first two issues of All-New Wolverine I saw a comparison to the BBC America show Orphan Black — the sci-fi drama about a woman named Sarah Manning and all of the clones that a secret organization created. At first I thought this was kind of a pedestrian find, but it finally struck a chord with me with All-New Wolverine 3. The one thing that the Orphan Black clones have in common with the All-New Wolverine clones is the inclusion of a cuckoo and at times surprisingly sweet clone sister — Orphan Black has crazy Russian Helena and All-New Wolverine has Gabby. Gabby doesn’t seem as over-the-top crazy as Helena does, but there’s a scene that made me admire Gabby’s bald-faced sincerity.
Laura is attempting to prevent Bellona from killing Taskmaster and the Alchemax soldiers, arguing that the soldiers could have families. Bellona scoffs at Laura’s sanctimony by saying “Where do you draw the line on this compassion? What if that guy over there is a part-time classical pianist? You cut off half of his fingers!” Before they leave the sewer, sweet, crazy Gabby returns the soldiers fingers to his unconscious body in case he does in fact play piano. It’s a short scene, it’s a simple scene, but it’s an important one that tells me a hell of a lot about the character of Gabby. At this point Gabby is the most developed Laura-clone and definitely the most entertaining. Her “finger solution” is one that comes from the mind of a child: literal and sincere.
I don’t want to veer too far off course here, but the Gabby scene coupled with the book showcasing the fearsome foursome in the sewers and winding around New York City streets in a tank led me to the only possible solution: Laura and her clones are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Laura = Leo, Gabby = Mikey, Bellona = Ralph and Zelda = Donnie (basically because she’s not very defined at the moment and I needed to complete the analogy.) Maybe it’s because I always enjoyed the outrageously conspicuous Turtle Van (and its successors) but Laura’s ridicule of clones’ tank made my mind jump straight to TMNT.
Ok, I’m done with my proposed TMNT/Wolverine crossover. I was initially struggling a bit when I was thinking about what I had to say about this issue. We still really don’t know a lot about what’s going on with the clones, other than the fact that they are dying (clones rapidly aging is a weird staple of sci-fi, but I’m ok with it). Nevertheless All-New Wolverine 3 is an engaging comic book that has the rapid pace of an action movie without sacrificing good story and character work — Tom Taylor excels at believable characters.
When I praise the action movie style of All-New Wolverine 3 the majority of that credit goes to artist David Lopez. It’s clear that Wolverine is going to kick Taskmaster’s ass, but Lopez still dedicates five pages of the fight scene between the two. Taskmaster is one of the best tactical fighters of the Marvel U after all, so it only makes sense that Lopez stretch out the fight to give us blow-by-blow panels of him countering Wolverine. And you know what both Taskmaster and I forgot about? Laura’s toe claw! I feel like she doesn’t bust that thing out too often — I always forget about it. For comedic value alone, one of my favorite panels Lopez drew is when Laura crashed the Alchemax tank into a tree and a squirrel just narrowly escapes. Leave it to Tom Taylor though to make that more than just a fun visual — Laura later reveals that in that split second she placed her Alchemax tracer on the damn squirrel! Fabulous.
Patrick! Happy New Year and all of that razzmatazz! How are you digging Laura as Wolverine? Did you notice my internal struggle between calling her both Laura and Wolverine? Laura as the repentant killer training more hopeful repentant killers reminds me of another movie or comic…not sure which one. Any thoughts on that particular path that Laura is on?
Patrick: Laura seems pretty clearly on the path of “I’m not going to kill people, but only because I was designed to murder fools.” For her, not-killing is an act of rebellion. But I think there’s something a little more to the conversation about maiming her victims than that revealing joke about the possible-pianists fingers. The first issue of this series flashed us back to a conversation between Wolverines wherein Logan imparts two pieces of information: 1) Laura is his clone and 2) they should endeavor not to kill, because that’s the right thing. Neither of those nuggets are news, but that’s the sole reason for that scene. It’s no coincidence that Gabby, Zelda and Bellona are clones of Laura, and she finds herself reiterating Logan’s wishes for them. I’m not totally sure what to make of the twisty morality of disabling someone instead of killing them, and I’m not sure that Laura does either. Right as she’s locked in an argument about it with Bellona, Zelda puts two bullets in Taskmaster’s knees.
Which is sorta interesting, but ultimately does little more than point out the false-dichotomy between killing and not killing. It almost begs the question: do we really care if Laura kills people or not? I mean, if it suits her needs and it’s what she’s paid to do, it’s sorta hard to understand where her objection comes from, other than the sense of rebellion she dutifully excepted from Logan. That’s some messy motivation, and I have a hard time getting excited about Laura’s convictions because of it. If there series had done anything to establish an emotional reason that Laura wouldn’t want to kill — say a bad experience with death or something like that — then her non-murder mandate could come from a sincere place. Right now, it feels more like a contrivance for the sake of the narrative.
And this issue has a handful of too-convenient contrivances for my tastes. To un-do the fact that they were shot in the previous issue, this issue establishes that the Sisters are wearing body armor. Okay: fine. Bullet-proof vests are a tried and true method of cheating last-week’s cliffhanger for as long as serialized storytelling’s been around. But only a few pages later, Laura and the sisters find themselves pursued — presumably by the same Alchemax task force — only these guys are packing armor-piercing bullets. A convenient cheat, cheated conveniently. Also, I straight-up don’t by that Laura’s able to identify the bullets as they’re whizzing past her face.
Boof, I can already tell that this write-up is me turning into a bit of a kill-joy. I don’t mean to be. When the series sticks to tightly choreographed action sequences, Davids Lopez and Navarrot are operating on a level I usually only see in Daredevil or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Michael pointed out that awesome sequence where Laura rips the steering wheel out of the Alchemax truck, but the moments leading up to it are just as exciting. Check out how the perspective of the camera in these three panels drifts back and forth and back again, as though focusing in on center.
That’s a great way to subtlely reinforce the idea that this dude is closing in on our heroes. Just about every action beat is drafted with this same attention to detail.
I think that’s enough to keep me coming back. Plus the promise of some Strange, of course.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?