Pacing as Character in All-New Wolverine 33

By Patrick Ehlers

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

I love the idea of popping into a character’s far-flung future. It’s a way of taking a character’s essence and teasing out the results of a life lived in that essence — the ultimate if-then statement. If you’re a violent loner, then you end up alone and wracked with guilt. It’s all effect, and the cause is understood to be part of the character’s DNA. All-New Wolverine 33 kicks off the “Old Woman Laura” story, and writer Tom Taylor and artist Ramon Rosanas show the result of Laura’s legacy of positivity and leadership. Even in a world that was rocked by Doom World Wars, there’s still joy, prosperity, sorority and productivity in Laura’s future.

Oh, and she’s also dying. RECORD SCRATCH. Taylor and Rosanas play that inversion of Laura’s happy future with the same flippant disregard I just did… at least, at first. Laura tells Gabby that she’s dying in one breath, and then asks for chopsticks in the next. They’ll loop back around to the “why”s and the “how does that makes you feel”s in a minute, but this revelation is primarily a springboard for Laura to take some long-desired action to rescue fellow Wolverine clone Bellona.

Taylor and Rosanas use the pacing of this issue to illustrate the speed of Laura’s ambition. The issue opens on Gabby stalking some bad dudes on a boat. The scene takes its time — there’s a large establishing shot of Bay of Madripor and the villains are teased before Wolverine’s shadow appears on the wall behind them. There’s a whole page of Gabby taking a laser blast to the chest and nonchalantly healing.

It’s a great page, but we’re clearly locked into the pacing of Gabby’s experience, which is very immediate. The same holds true in the second scene, when Gabby meets Laura in her office. That aforementioned chopsticks moment also takes a whole page. Taylor and Rosanas let all of this take some time: eleven pages for these two scenes. But even within that glacial pace, Laura appears to be restlessly pushing the story forward.

And once she takes over as the perspective character, scenes start tumbling over each other to get enough accomplished in this first issue. That’s achieved in part by how well Rosanas leverages iconic imagery to tell a condensed story. If those two page-long moments I discussed earlier are great examples of wonderfully decompressed storytelling, then this is just the opposite of that.

The White House. Kamala Khan. Bam, bam: this is a future where Ms. Marvel became the president of the United States. Further, Kamala and Laura are buddies. We get so much useful and interesting information in two images. Then, the scene pivots into flashback in the middle of the next page, gleefully frolicking through backstory, and establishing the Doom World War* with an epic splash page. It’s a high speed race to the end of the issue from there, with Laura gathering allies and information as she accelerates toward Latveria. After an introspective (and purposely slow) start, the latter half of this issue feels like an energetic shot in the arm, the kind of positivity and productivity that has lead Laura to this point in her life in the first place. It’s really a neat trick and a fabulous way to let the story tell the character.

*Hey, how to do you guys read “Doom World War”? Is that a World War featuring Doom? Or is “Doom World” something we have not yet had explained to us? Also, is any of this connected to the recent Marvel Two-In-One 5, wherein Doom is Galactus and is coming to destroy Earth last? We’ve got some portals involved so… maybe?

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

One comment on “Pacing as Character in All-New Wolverine 33

  1. I really wish future stories were more willing to feel like they are putting their feet forward instead of swirling around the past. There is a lot of little things that annoy em about this issue. Like how Laura had a long relationship with Julian, before the war. Because her first teenage relationship must certainly dictate her future, even though she ended that and has moved on. Compare that to Maria Hill. Or, for something similar, the idea that parallel universe Emma Frost could be a mid western farmer in the otherwise bad latest issue of Two-in-One.

    I love the choice of Bellona as the final piece of business left to do. A great connection to the rest of the run in how it puts everything Laura has been doing in greater context. But as a future, it feels limited. There is ultimately only one event that defined this future, while everything just recycled the past.

    This feels limited, as an act of worldbuilding. The basic premise is good, and it will be interesting to see what it happens when the story properly starts next issue. But as a world for Old Woman Laura, it felt a little banal

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