Memories Come Rushing Back in All-New Wolverine 25

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 25

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I think it’s fair to say that All New-Wolverine is more concerned with the idea of legacy than most comics. Laura is donning the mantle of her mentor, and the first arc of this series found her reconciling with her literal clones. Indeed, I might argue that it’s one of the greatest strengths of this series, as writer Tom Taylor has mined Laura’s history for ever more emotionally devastating gut-punches. So when issue 25 features a “Legacy” banner across the cover, it’s almost a promise of legacy-squared, somehow centralizing the idea of legacy even more than the series normally does. Those are daunting expectations, but Taylor and artist Juann Cabal more then live up to them, forcing Laura to relive some of her most traumatic memories.

Early in the issue, Taylor gives Laura a kind of Proustian flashback as she recognizes the familiar smell of the facility that created her. In this moment, Cabal and colorist Nolan Woodard cleverly introduce a kind of orange wash to represent Laura’s memories.

Laura remembers

This is clever for a lot of reasons — I’m particularly enamored of Cabal’s choice to get us into this moment with a zoom in and out on Laura’s eye — but the most important is that it sets up the flashbacks that crop up later in the issue.

As Laura returns to the facility, these images are projected onto every surface, forcing her to walk through her most traumatic memories.

Laura and her memories

It’s both chilling and heartbreaking. Moreover, it marks the first time I’ve really liked her new costume — the contrast between her bright orange memories and her own greytone existence makes them feel all the more vivid and oppressive. These images couldn’t be further from who she is now, yet they’re also ever-present.

Bringing these hard memories to the surface perfectly sets the tone for the surprise ending, which I’ll avoid spoiling, mostly because I don’t know exactly what it will mean for Laura (as is often the case with big splash page cliffhangers). But I do know what it means for this series: we’re digging back into Laura’s past, and mining it for all of the emotion that made me fall in love with this series in the first place. It’s everything I want a Legacy issue of All-New Wolverine to be.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “Memories Come Rushing Back in All-New Wolverine 25

  1. How many superheroes actually have honestly strong Rogue’s Galleries? You could probably make the case that Batman is the only one, the only character where each iconic villain is elaborate and well realised enough to work independently. If I was to select another Rogue’s Gallery, it would be Flash’s. But that cheats a bit by making combining a bunch into the Rogues. Flash’s rely on being together.

    But so many other heroes who have Rogue’s Galleries filled with characters like Metallo or the Vulture. They may have a couple of well realised villains (Spiderman has Green Goblin, Doc Ock and Venom), but most of their Rogue’s Gallery is filled with mostly uninteresting characters whose primary value is that they are recognisable. There is a reason why the Vulture, one of the MCU’s best villains, is unrecognisable compared to the comics.

    But then you think of how many characters don’t even have Rogue’s Galleries. Green Arrow doesn’t. He has Count Vertigo and Merlyn. Thor has Loki. It is even harder for newer heroes. Arch Enemies are easy. The Reach, Madame Masque and Derek Bishop, Kilgrave. But Rogue’s Galleries are honestly hard. Hell, Snyder tried to do that with Dick Grayson in his masterpiece, the Black Mirror. Created five fantastic villains, all with interesting ideas and everything necessary to be interesting, recurring threats. They were amazing, but either quickly forgotten or reduced to mooks. EVen James Gordon Jnr was taken away to be used by Batgirl.

    There is a wish that this issue would be a bit newer. That we wouldn’t be doing another Facility story. But ultimately, they are Laura’s arch enemy. Every book she’s been a lead in has been about the Facility. Both of her origin miniseries were about the Facility. New X-Men’s Laura focused arc was about the Facility. So did X-Force’s. Her first ongoing didn’t have the Facility specifically as a villain, but it was a key part of the character focus (and the trigger scent was a key part of the story). While this series has had the Facility hovering over it from the very first issue. We had clone assassins, we had Kimura, we had trigger scent. You can’t blame this arc for telling another story about her arch enemy instead of building a Rogue’s Gallery. Laura’s story in this book has ultimately always been about fighting the Facility. Laura’s story will always be about her fighting the Facility.

    But it really needs to find a way to do so in a way that doesn’t feel like repetition. That doesn’t feel like my worst fears of what Legacy was going to be*. Specifics of this plotline are new – Laura’s mother has never been resurrected/cloned before. But the basic beats of Laura having to deal with the fact that she was forced to kill the one woman who ever loved her by the Facility has been done before. It has even been done in this very series. What is the new take on the Facility? What makes this a Facility story worth telling, other than the fact that it is her arch enemy?

    I kind of wish that more people looked at the Mercury Falling arc from New X-Men more, the Facility story where they target one of Laura’s friends for their experiments. The idea of that arc, with the Facility as a boutique creating living weapons for wealthy clients, was a good one. The sort of thing that can be expanded on greatly, telling all sorts of new stories that don’t always go back to Laura’s sadness about the same parts of her origin. Ask questions like ‘What would Laura do to stop someone going through the experiences that she had gone through?’. What would Laura do to stop her dark mirror (and you can create a lot of different dark mirrors, depending on what sort of superhuman the Facility has made this week). Or what would Laura do for someone who did go through those experiences? Hell, why hasn’t Mercury ever been part of the supporting cast of one of Laura’s books? How much potential is there in Laura’s relationship with the friend traumatised by the torture that was inflicted upon her when the Facility kidnapped her?

    Instead, we have this. Which struggles to sufficiently differentiate itself from Enemy of the State II. Yeah, the superficial details are very different. But again, ti is Laura being sad that she killed her mother under trigger scent. If the Facility are truly going to be Laura’s arch enemy (and they have to be), can’t we find another story to tell with them? Something more like Mercury Falling? Hell, isn’t part of the point of making her immune to Trigger Scent the fact that not every story has to go back to ‘I killed my mother under trigger scent’. She’s confronted those issues, and we can explore all the other many issues created by her relationship with the Facility?

    I guess we have the Muramasa Shield to look forward to, but I’m disappointed that it is so Logan focused. The connection to Logan stuff feels like the least interesting thing to focus on at the moment. So much else about Laura we could explore, yet it feels like the only part that it isn’t a repeat

    Also, the best part of the flashback art isn’t the colours, though they are great. It is Cabal’s art itself. It intentionally changes his style, going for thinner lines, less shadows and a different approach to details. Combined with Woodard’s change in colouring style, favouring single tones to more complex colours, and the flashbacks look distinctly different. In fact, it looks like a pastiche of Billy Tan’s art in the original Innocence Lost miniseries that is Laura’s origin. What better way to flashback to the origin than to pastiche the actual art of the original origin?

    *I don’t want to speak too much about the values or direction of Legacy, because the truth is that Legacy was aimless. Saying things like ‘everything I want a Legacy issue of All-New Wolverine to be’ or the opposite feel silly, when Legacy’s big values and direction was gobblety goop meaning nothing. There is no such thing as a ‘true’ Legacy issue, because it prescribes meaning that Legacy doesn’t have.

    I really wish you guys had done a post of Marvel Legacy, because I prepared a 3000 word comment trying to express the complexities of Legacy, both its major problems and its big successes

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