Ever since Laura first escaped the facility that brought her into existence, and tortured her for the first 13 years of her life, she’d gone out of her way to avoid ever returning. This story arc forces her to change that early on.
All-New Wolverine 25, written by Tom Taylor, begins with Daken (Laura’s sort-of brother and sometimes villain) in a bar. At first it seems like people are recognizing him for helping save people from the plague in the Immune story arc, but then they attack him. It’s not too long after that when Laura receives a call from the cops, leading to Laura and Gabby discovering Daken’s severed arm dangling beneath a bridge. That’s one dark and mysterious way to start a comic.
The dark tone continues when Laura returns to her place of origin, reflecting on her past through the narrations. To say anything more about the story would be a huge spoiler. I will say this though – the last page reveal brings so many implications and raises so many questions. It makes me glad that All-New Wolverine is double shipping this month, because long-time X-23 fans need answers to the reveal. As usual, the darker tone is balanced out with a bit of humour between Laura and Gabby, when they’re talking about Gabby potentially getting a superhero code name. Even that isn’t as amusing as normal, and it feels like that’s intentional.
Juan Cabal’s art is brilliant. The flashback to the original Wolverine getting his Murumasa blade built is complete with detailed mountain backgrounds, mystical energy flying around the newly forged blade, and a detailed outfit on the forger. The bar scene is complete with a variety of patrons, some with epic beards, some with balding heads, and some with tattoos. The background is complete with pictures of various cowboys, a deer head and a well-stocked bar. The detail continues throughout the comic enough that I could write multiple paragraphs about it, but it’s at its most impressively in the facility itself. Flashback images of Laura’s past are shown in the damaged windows, and the environment is stained all over the place, with plenty of claw marks on the walls and small debris on the floor. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotion, like Daken’s grin when people first attack him in the bar, Gabby rolling her eyes during her code name conversation, and Laura’s clear dislike of being in the facility again. Nolan Woodard’s colouring is fantastic. The lighter scenes are bright and colourful, while the facility scene is shaded a dark green with great use of shadows and faded stains.
This is a great comic, and a brilliant start to the Orphans of X story arc. I can’t wait to see what happens next, and thankfully I’ll only need to wait a couple weeks. It strikes a nearly perfect tone and slow building pace for the story. It feels like this story is leading to something big. Wherever this story arc is going, it feels like it’s not only going to dig into Laura’s past, but her entire family’s past. That makes this not only a must read comic for X-23 fans, but well worth checking out for Wolverine and Daken fans as well.