It’s been more than 6 years since Kimura, X-23’s closest thing to Sabretooth, invaded her life. Although we can’t yet say for sure that Kimura’s involved in Laura’s Enemy of the State, there are a lot of strong implications that she’s behind what happens at the end of this comic. Although the events have been heavily teased in alternate covers, preview images and interviews, I won’t say exactly what happens. In any case, this story arc is going to be dark.
Written by Tom Taylor, All-New Wolverine 13 kicks off Enemy of the State II, a spiritual successor to the story arc where Hydra brainwashed the original Wolverine and then he killed a few superheroes while doing their bidding. Right from the start, there’s an ominous feel over this entire issue. Laura doesn’t feel safe in Logan’s old apartment with all the invasions she and Gabby have experienced lately, not to mention she’s trying to avoid Civil War II. A mysterious package arrives with no return address with …disturbing contents, which only increases Laura’s desire to get out of there.
Most of this comic is a setup issue, but with a great balance between tension, backstory and humour. Gabby helps lighten the mood in a number of ways, whether it’s her insisting to take the Pelican statue with them, causing a bit of a disturbance in the middle of a traffic jam, or commenting on how messy the original Wolverine’s old cabin in the woods is. Meanwhile, the flashbacks explain who Kimura is and why she’s so frightening to Laura. This is necessary for new readers considering she hasn’t shown up since 2009, and it’s done with a good balance of narration, some of Kimura’s more famous lines and art showing some of X-23’s more brutal origin story moments.
Speaking of the art, it’s drawn by Nik Virella and coloured by Michael Garland. I wouldn’t quite call the art great, but there’s nothing wrong with it either. The opening pages show the aftermath of the carnage that Laura causes that kicks off this story arc, complete with fires in the backgrounds, all sorts of damage to the nearby buildings and a bloodied corpse on the ground. The second page spread shows a clearly distressed Laura kneeling on the ground, her facial expressions and body language summing everything up perfectly. There’s a varying degree of detail on the pages. Sometimes Gabby’s scars are barely visible. Most of the panels in the traffic jam don’t have backgrounds beyond Laura’s car and someone that Gabby has a brief argument with. Meanwhile, the external shots at the cabin are complete with trees in the background, the cabin itself, Gabby stretching in front of the car and Jonathan the Wolverine running in the foreground. The mess of Logan’s cabin is impressive with dirty dishes all over, some sort of green slime in the sink, used cigars on the tables and open jars. The colouring makes good use of shadows and shading and the day scenes are bright and colourful.
This is a great comic, and a strong start to Enemy of the State II. This feels darker than the rest of this series so far, yet there’s still a great balance of tension and humour. At this point we know what kicks off Laura’s run from the law, but it’s otherwise hard to tell where this story will go from here, and that makes it exciting. X-23 fans should be reading this series, and this arc in particular already feels like a balance between a return to her old days and her new life. Fans of the original Wolverine who haven’t given Laura a chance really should. This is the best “Wolverine” solo series in years and probably the best X-Men title on the market right now.