by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Drew: Superhero comics have always been about wish fulfillment. We might think of a lot of those wishes (from flying to standing up to bullies) as childish, but adults are far from immune from impossible fantasies. While the wealth and power of many superheroes is certainly appealing, I’m thinking more of the more existential wishes adults may have, at once more fantastical and easier to imagine than leaping tall buildings in a single bound. The most elemental of these wishes might be to have just one more conversation with a deceased loved one. This is exactly the fantasy Tom Taylor and Ramon Rosanas mine in Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine, giving Laura Kinney one last chance to interact with her father.
I guess I should pause here to say that I do mean “father” — genetics aside, we tend to use “father figure” or “mentor” when describing Logan and Laura’s relationship, but Taylor and Rosanas take a different tack here. More on that in a bit.
I’ll admit, this being the first “Generations” issue I’ve read, I don’t fully understand how or why Laura is in the past, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter; the emotional impact of this story works even if it’s just Larua’s fantasy or a dream. How (or even if) this story fits in the larger tapestry of the Marvel Universe has basically no bearing on the impact of this issue, which is all about a Logan who hasn’t yet met Laura interacting with a Laura who has already come to terms with Logan’s death. And again, that’s really powerful, even as a fantasy — we all have someone we’d like to see one more time.
Remarkably, Taylor and Rosanas are able to orient me in time (for both of these characters) within the first few pages. We pick up on Logan in his classic costume in Japan, fighting the Hand and talking about the girl he and Mariko are taking care of. It establishes the stakes, but also gives us invaluable information about when this is taking place in Logan’s life — even if, like me, you’re not enough of an X-Man buff to be familiar with all of these details, they provide a rough idea when taken together. Moreover, when Laura shows up in her snazzy new grey costume, we understand that she’s coming from (roughly) the present-day Marvel Universe; that is, one where Logan has already died. His utter unfamiliarity with her completes the circle, such that we understand these two characters as standing on opposite shores of their relationship; him before they had one, and her after it has ended.
Of course, in true Wolverine fashion, they don’t acknowledge their feelings until they’ve done all the killing that needs doing. Taylor knows how to write casually badass characters, and Rosanas is more than game for drawing conversations where both Wolverines have weapons stuck into their bodies, but they also sneak some great storytelling into those early pages. Laura’s intentional miss and plan to follow the last Hand ninja back to Akiko is a thrilling display of her prowess, but I’m most impressed at how quickly she and Logan then fall into their more familiar roles with him as the leader.
Rosanas handles this change so elegantly, I almost didn’t notice it. Logan slowly drifts to the center of the page, then turns his back, drawing us (and Laura) into the page. Rosanas uses depth elegantly throughout this issue, but I’m particularly fond of how he flattens everything out in that third panel before opening it up again for those final two. Logan really is shifting the control in that moment, even if he’s just implementing Laura’s plan.
I could easily burn through my wordcount detailing all of the clever ways Rosanas makes these characters look awesome, but for me, the heart of this issue comes at the very end, as the two finally have a moment to confront their feelings/think about their relationship. This obviously has more meaning for Laura, who already has a relationship with Logan (and why Taylor was the only person who could write this issue), but she’s able to have a positive influence on his life, pointing him back towards Amiko and Mariko when his instinct was to leave. But the moment that absolutely ripped my heart out was when Laura is suddenly whisked back to her own time.
“Goodbye, Dad” just about killed me. It’s a proper goodbye, built on an issue’s worth of shared struggles and connections — if any single issue has earned having Laura call Logan “dad,” it’s this one. That we stay with Logan in his timeline, allowing us to see that this experience left an impression on him, too, just seals the deal. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful.
Michael! It’s been a while since you and I talked about Taylor’s All-New Wolverine, but this issue does a great job of illustrating everything I love about that series. Did you have any favorite moments from this issue that I didn’t mention?
Michael: Drew, you and I are in the same boat on several things: the tidbit of Wolverine’s daughter Akiko, why Laura is in the past, or what the point of “Generations” is (besides marketability). But the good news is that none of that matters because Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine 1 is a fun, accessible comic book for fans of Logan and Laura alike.
Right off the top, I have to give props to writer Tom Taylor, whose script comes across so smooth in its execution he makes it look easy. He doesn’t waste a whole lot of time having his characters question their circumstances, they just keep on hero-ing until the hero-ing is done. Logan and Laura are both veteran superheroes by this point, so Taylor doesn’t disrespect that status by having them flustered by a little time-displacement.
Uniting the two Wolverines, Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine 1 is a big celebration of all things SNIKT. It’s got all of the elements you’d expect from a classic Wolverine story: a Tokyo backdrop, a torrent of Hand ninjas, and Logan’s eternal nemesis Victor Creed: Sabretooth. Since Laura is on a strict no-killing diet, Taylor wisely throws some undead ninjas in front of the two Wolverines so they can go full force.
I liked the care that Taylor and Rosanas took to highlight how different Laura’s fighting technique is from Logan’s. She’s more precise and surgical than Logan because of their size difference but also because of their killing experience. At this point in his career, it’s probably fair to say that Logan runs through his foes like a freight train. Laura, on the other hand, was a member of the black ops X-Force team that required a stealthier approach to SNIKTing.
There are a handful of instances where Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine 1 reminds me of some of Wolverine’s iconic movie moments. The scene where the Hand ninjas have their chains dug into Logan’s flesh was akin to a similar scene near the end of The Wolverine. Rosanas draws Laura twirling through the air like a ferocious helicopter like Dafne Keen did in Logan. And Taylor most definitely paraphrased a line of dialogue from Logan in the scene where Laura dispatches Sabretooth:
Hey, if it works, it works.
An important thing to note about the dynamic between the two Wolverines is that Taylor constantly keeps them at the same level. Laura doesn’t fall over herself in awe because she gets to team-up with her mentor in his “prime,” she comes in from the shadows like a badass to save him. Laura lets Logan take the lead but also shows initiative and forethought that he didn’t.
Another great example of this level playing field comes in the choice of clothing for their second act wardrobe change. Laura changes into the same slick black suit and shades that Logan does, which causes an eyebrow raise from Logan.
Beautiful. Laura shuts him down in a way that lets him know where she stands that vibes with the comic repartee these characters have. The Wolvies got a plane to catch but Taylor and Rosanas take a minute to remind us not to police a woman’s choice in clothing. I love how Laura is funny in a way that Logan could never really be. She’s got the healing factor and claws of Wolverine but the comedic timing and self-awareness of Spider-Man. The best example of this comes when Laura asks about cell phones but realizes that she’s in the ‘80s. I love when Marvel dates itself like this, especially when it doesn’t line up with continuity. Comics should be fun!
It was very surreal to see Logan back in his yellow spandex — I don’t think we’ve seen that original design in a very long time. Rosanas did a couple of great action pieces in this issue: one I mentioned earlier and the other comes hurdling down from an airplane.
First off, what a lovely and ominous image it is to see a plane fly by on a clear sunny day with the looming silhouette of be-clawed Wolverine coming at you. Logan is charging off of the page into the next panel, with his shirt notably unbuttoned for maximum SNIKTage. Logan lands his stab in the third panel and we see a completed aerial front-flip in the forth. I really felt the momentum and closure of that final blow.
Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine 1 is self-indulgent in all the best ways. It’s a great Wolverine one and done that gives you the action and just the right amount of father/daughter heart. They take their emotions and they stab something with it. “That’s the Wolverine way.”
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