Roosevelt Island is being ravaged by an extremely dangerous alien virus. It attacks organs indiscriminately until it kills everyone who’s exposed, usually within a day. Well, save for those with powerful enough healing factors to be immune, like Wolverine and Gabby for example. The only hint anyone has is that the alien girl who landed on the island, who also died of the virus, spoke Laura Kinney’s name. When she heard this, All-New Wolverine dove down to the island with a parachute, knowing that SHIELD is being asked to scorch the entire island in no more than 24 hours. That’s where this comic begins.
All-New Wolverine 20, written by Tom Taylor, begins with Laura in a clinic, communicating with a bunch of the Marvel Universe’s top scientists. It’s a very dramatic scene that further sets up the Immune storyline, showing how hopeless Laura feels as a complete non-scientist who’s been thrown into this situation. She wants to do everything she can to help, but there really doesn’t seem to be much that she can do. Of course with thousands of people trying to escape the island, there’s still some fighting to be done.
Despite the dark nature of the story, this comic retains the strong balance between drama, action and fun that’s made this series excel thus far. After Gabby joins the fray, her comments are consistently amusing, whether it’s pointing out how obvious it should be as to where she got her weapons, her ambulance comments during this issue’s main action scene, and the last line in this comic. The action itself also utilizes Laura’s foot claws in a way that shows how useful they are in situations beyond combat, by gripping onto the side of the ambulance with one set of hand claws while she quickly cuts into the back with her free hand and one of her feet, greatly speeding up the process. The comic’s ending is a bit weird, but in a way that increases the mystery behind the virus to a fascinating degree. I have a few theories that shouldn’t be shared in a post where I’m trying to avoid spoilers.
The art by Leonardo Kirk is great for the most part. The opening page shows a montage of the situation on the island, like the destroyed bridges to prevent anyone from leaving, the guards standing on the shores, terrified citizens on the streets and the Tony Stark AI’s equipment monitoring the situation. The page with Laura standing over the dead alien child, with the monitors each showing a different scientist superhero also sets the scene from a dramatic standpoint. The action flows well, with people diving out of the way of the hijacked ambulance that’s speeding straight through a hospital. There’s glass flying around as it crashes through the entrance. There’s a good variety of closeups and wider looks at the brief fight in the ambulance, showing Laura attaching herself to the ceiling with one foot claw, and the other one moving toward a gun. The next panel is her claw slicing through the barrel. Also, seeing Laura’s arm muscles bulge out at several points is a nice touch since she’s supposed to be on the muscular side of an athletic build.
Facial expressions generally do a great job at conveying emotions, whether it’s Laura’s saddened look when she’s standing over the alien child, Gabby’s smile when she pops out of the water upon her arrival, or the half-conscious look on this one particular scientist before she loses consciousness, about to die from the virus. That said, there are a couple panels where Laura looks a bit weird when she’s angry, with maybe a few too many lines appearing on her face. It’s still clear what she’s feeling, but these panels make her look old when she’s supposed to be 18 or 19. Michael Garland and Chris Sotomayor share colouring duties, and it’s hard to tell where one stars and the other begins. The balance between bright and colourful internal shots and darker colouring outside works well for this comic. There’s also good use of shadows, light reflecting off of round surfaces and the ambulance lights glowing.
I have yet to decide whether this or Detective Comics 956 is my favourite comic of the week. They’re both very good for slightly different reasons. Either way, All-New Wolverine continues to be the best X-Men book on the market, even if X-Men Blue and Jean Grey are both off to a good start. Laura and Gabby make for a fun and brutally effective team. The balance between drama, action and humour is what makes this book special, and the mystery in this particular story is very intriguing with a number of possible explanations. X-23 fans should be reading this series. All-New Wolverine is also well-worth checking out for fans of the original Wolverine, and for anyone who enjoyed Laura in the Logan movie.