Orphans of X has consistently been the darkest story arc in this series yet. The first two issues carried a generally creepy vibe, followed by a very intense entry last month. This issue gives us a bit of proper downtime to focus on both characters and story, but it’s not without several intense moments in its own right. And as much as I said the previous issue was pretty much perfect, it’s hard not to think that this one is just as good.
All-New Wolverine 28, written by Tom Taylor, begins shortly after the last left off. Laura and her family fled Cousin Megan and Aunt Debbie’s home, knowing that all of their lives are in danger. It starts off with a great moment between Laura and Megan, where Laura expresses her own guilt in killing people in her assassin past. Megan reminds Laura of all the people she’s helped, including her, and how she’s grown a lot since even the last time we’ve seen them speak. The moment doesn’t last long as the Orphans arrive to attack of course.
After a brief action scene where Daken suffers a bullet would that won’t heal, thanks to bullets formed out of the Murusamu blade (they cancel out healing factors completely), they realize that they need help. For the rest of the comic, they’re traveling to see Murusamu himself, asking for help. Along the way, Gabby gets an official codename, which is just perfect for her character. I won’t spoil what it is, but I will say it reminds me of a video that went viral a few years ago. It’s also amusing how Daken starts charming up Megan until Laura scolds him. There’s a good meditation moment for Daken, where he works to overcome his guilt over his father’s death. And without spoilers, the ending is really intense. I’m not entirely sure what happened or if it’s real, but it’s quite the closer.
Juann Cabal’s art is fantastic. After an opening montage where the Orphans of X successfully turn the blade into bullets, the beach scene for the next few pages is a beautiful setting with a lot of fine details drawn into character faces and outfits. Seeing everyone’s hair blow with the wind is a nice touch. You can see the guilt in Laura’s eyes when she’s talking about her violent past, the concern in Megan’s face when she encourages her cousin. Daken’s grin when he’s chatting with Megan is the perfect balance between charming and sleazy, and the look on Gabby’s face when she decides on her code name is such a great Gabby moment. Throwing in a bunch of Wolverine cover homages with Gabby’s face on them is a great touch, making it probably the best panel in the comic. My favourite is probably the cover where she fights the Hulk, and instead of a Wendigo, the extra guest star is homework.
The meditation panel with Daken focusing on his emotions, with the background showing his severed arm regrowing on one side and the cells in his body on the other, is arguably just as good. There’s a lot of environmental detail once the family reaches Tokyo, whether it’s the city skyline with the volcano in the background, the large sewers with well warn walls and a random tentacle in the foreground. I could go on, but as great as Taylor’s writing is, the art is arguably better. Nolan Woodard’s colouring adds extra depth to the already impressive art. There’s a lot of realistic looking shading that also enhances the mood. There’s the occasional gleam, like when Laura pops a claw to help Daken recover from his Murusamu bullet wound and the shine in Daken’s teeth when he turns on the charm. Tokyo’s nighttime skyline looks brilliant with the many glowing windows, some of which have a bit of a glare look. As a whole this comic is bright, colourful and appealing.
All-New Wolverine continues to be the best X-men book on the market, and this is shaping up to be the best story arc yet. The story by its very nature explores not only Laura’s past, but the past of Wolverine’s entire family. The villains are ordinary people hurt by various Wolverine characters over the years, whether through permanent scars or losing family members. Considering they have vast resources, they’re still a very serious threat. It carries the sense of family between characters that seems to be missing in most of the X-men team books lately. And most importantly, it strikes a great balance between action, drama and fun. X-23 fans should be reading this series. Daken fans should at least be reading this story arc, since he’s in this just as much as Laura. And fans of the original Wolverine should check this series out if they haven’t already.