by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
While I’ve often marveled at the depth of Tom Taylor’s allusions on All-New Wolverine, it doesn’t exactly take a biblical scholar to catch the parallels to Jesus in this issue. Laura practices peace, heals the sick, and ultimately dies (maybe), but it’s that middle point that Taylor really sinks his teeth into, detailing not only the pitiful masses in need of help, but the suffering Laura endures in order to cure them. She’s Jesus, just without the religious conviction (I opted not to open this essay with Luke’s account, which finds Jesus getting downright snippy when recently-cured lepers fail to praise God to his satisfaction).
But that complicates exactly what her role is. We might recognize her self-sacrifice as a kind of martyrdom, but it’s clearly not the martyrdom we associate with those who die for their religion. Moreover, her sacrifice comes explicitly without the hint of resurrection. A refrain throughout the issue is that Laura and her compatriots won’t be able to save everyone, a point that is brought into sharp focus when Gabby tries and fails to heal the recently dead.
Laura et al. may be taking on a Jesus-like role in this issue, but when confronted with their lazarus, they’re as powerless as we are.
So, what do we make of Laura’s self-sacrifice at the end of this issue? Obviously, comic book logic dictates that she’s not permanently dead (or perhaps not quite dead), even as the rules laid out in the issue assure us that dead is dead. Those two paradigms may seem to be at cross purposes, but the important thing to note here is that, while Laura is explicitly aware of the “dead is dead” rules in this issue, she is explicitly unaware of the fact that she lives in a comic book world where rules of death must not apply to her. All she knows is that she isn’t Jesus, so rising from the grave isn’t something she’s counting on, even if it ultimately is something we know that she actually can count on. It’s a precise bit of nuance, forcing us to accept her subjectivity over our own comic fan cynicism, but Taylor lays it out just precisely enough to make it work.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?