Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Cover Artist: David Lopez
Published: April 4, 2018
This is the first issue of the final arc of the All-New Wolverine series. The arc is called “Old Woman Laura” and takes inspiration from the Old Man Logan story published a few years ago. This review and reviews for the next two issues will try to only consider that issue in the context of what has come before in this series, to try to enjoy the story we have in front of us, and not in the context of the fact that these are its final issue (that consideration will be handled in separate review/essay about the All-New Wolverine series as a whole). For anyone who saw the name of this arc and worried whether Tom Taylor was really trying to do an Old Man Logan type thing, don’t worry. Whether you love/like/can’t stand Mark Millar’s dark and violent vision of the future of the Marvel Universe, this arc (the first issue at least) borrows from it in name only. This is brightly colored, mostly cheerful, progressive, and overall very pleasant vision of the future. Which is appropriate for this series, as Laura has worked so hard to make the future better than the past. It would be a disservice to the character to bog her down in a grim ultra-violent story where killing a lot of people of the only way to fix things, when that is basically the antithesis of her implicit goals for the last thirty plus issues. At so many points where Tom Taylor could have reverted Laura to a character more akin to Logan he has taken her in more interesting and complicated directions. She isn’t beholden to the stories that came before, and this arc, her final one in this iteration, isn’t an exception.
To actually get to what is in this issue instead of talking about what it isn’t, the first scene has Wolverine rocking up on a boat off the coast of Madripoor and stopping (not killing) some gun smugglers. There is a slight and very cool twist in this scene (no it isn’t her extremely dope suit) where Wolverine is actually Gabby and not Laura (and if you look closely at the cover that too depicts Gabby). Anyway, after Gabby finishes on the boat she goes to see Laura who was previously made the queen of Madripoor. Here the story starts to get rolling as Laura reveals to Gabby that her genetic code is breaking down and she is dying. This is the other (tiny) similarity between his arc and the Logan one. In Old Man Logan, his healing factor was severely diminished which added some intensity to the action, but not really because he survives some pretty violent things. Laura’s body/healing factor is failing her as well, but potentially she doesn’t know how her body will respond as she hasn’t had to fight (presumably) in a while. There were never specific conversations about whether she wanted to be Wolverine for the rest of her life, but based on her desire to discover solutions to problems that don’t involve using claws, you can imagine the answer is no. If you have been following this story, there is something very satisfying about seeing an older Laura, with wonderful white streaks in her hair, that has an identity beyond Wolverine, that is states-person in a world where, “The heroes won.” Before she dies Laura asks Gabby to help her do two things, kill Dr. Doom and find her cloned sister Bellona. Bellona and Gabby are the two surviving clones of Laura that she rescued and went on the run with in the first arc of this series. At one other point in the series Bellona was sent to kill Laura but the situation was diffused and she hasn’t been mentioned since. Apparently no one knows where she is, so Laura asks a favor of the POTUS who is none other than Kamala Khan! From President Khan Laura learns that Bellona was a prisoner of S.H.I.E.L.D. being held on a helicarrier that was captured by Doom during the Doom World War. With this as their only lead, Laura, Gabby, and Maria Hill head to Latveria to find Bellona and Doom.
It really can’t be overstated how cathartic it is to see Laura in the sort of good position that she’s in during this issue. It’s absolutely terrible that she is slowly dying (her moment with Gabby when she tells her is heartbreaking) but she says, “I’ve lived, and I feel like I’ve lived well.” She mentions the husband she had, the good state the world seems to be in (Kamala Khan is president, I love it), and Gabby is in good place with her family. Laura didn’t become the things he was made to be, but achieved so much more and that’s wonderful to see. This state of content/happiness that Laura is in is also strongly reflected in the art. Its very bright, with lots of pastels and bright yellows and blues. Even though there is a certain sadness hanging over things it is not dour, and even the one action scene (depicting the Doom World War) is very colorful. Gabby has a wonderful new outfit, and a sweet futuristic haircut, and Laura too has a great new maroon and grey suite. This is probably some of the best art in this series thus far and the brightness of and emotion depicted by Roman Rosanas and Nolan Woodard really make this celebration of Laura and what she has become.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 8