The previous issue of All-New Wolverine revealed that not only did the Orphans of X acquire the murumasa blade, but they’ve turned it into bullets. Why is that significant? Because the blade, and by extension the bullets, completely negate healing factors. The Orphans of X also made it clear that they want to rid the world of Wolverine-like characters, each for their own personal reasons. And they’re closing in.
All-New Wolverine 29, written by Tom Taylor, begins exactly where the last issue left off, with Laura, Daken and Gabby sacrificing a portion of their souls to help Murumasa build some sort of defense from these murumasa bullets. This issue is fast-paced, but it doesn’t feel rushed like the ending of the Enemy of the State II arc felt. There’s still room for some good dramatic moments. There’s a brief moment with Debbie taking care of Laura while she recovers for a couple days, instead of having Laura worrying about her family all the time. It’s also a nice touch when Daken makes a sacrifice of his own, trusting that Laura can set things right later. It’s a move that further shows how Laura is one of the few people he truly cares about, and how he always seems to behave better when she’s around.
But this issue is action and story heavy, and both are very well done. The Orphans of X figure out where Wolverine’s family went fairly quickly, and they brought friends. The Orphans prove once again that they’re a threat that need to be taken seriously. It’s nice how not only Daken’s plan leads Laura and Gabby straight to the Orphans’ headquarters, but it does so using a minor plot point that makes perfect sense for the things that Megan and Debbie have been through. It also leads to a great stealth sequence to close off the issue, told mostly through the art. That’s something we often don’t see enough of from Laura in recent years. Oh, and for those familiar with X-23’s history, there’s a major reveal regarding a member of the Orphans of X on the very first page. It’ll be very interesting to see how that plays out in the next issue.
The art by Juann Cabal is fantastic as usual. The first page taking place on Murumasa’s mountain is complete with detailed backgrounds, partially obscured with the magic flowing around. Each character not only feature detailed outfits, but said outfits are well varied. When Laura, Daken and Gabby are recovering, they clearly look fatigued, even if Laura’s trying to hide it through her sheer determination. Having experienced physical pain for the first time, Gabby looks distressed and tired at the same time. These facial expressions continue to impress throughout the comic, like Gabby’s look of disgust when she gets ninja dust in her mouth, Daken’s clear confusion when she asks if it’s contagious, and Megan’s near panic after learning Daken’s plan.
The fight scene against the hand flows well, with action flowing between panels in a smooth, coherent fashion, and aggressive looking attacks from everyone. There’s a great panel where Gabby stops to watch a hand ninja crumble into ashes with a confused pose that’s just perfect. It’s also nice to see Laura drawn with clear muscle definition on her arms. The only problem, and this is minor, is that the revealed character looks older than he should. Nolan Woodard’s colouring is also great. This is a bright and colourful comic, with great use of shadows in darkened environments, glowing from Murumasa’s magic, and the pale skin tones on the characters as they recover early in the comic. Considering Daken lost his arm multiple times in the first couple of issues, showing one hand with white bone claws and the other with metal claws is a nice touch.
All-New Wolverine continues to be the best X-Men series on the market. The action is intense, the story expands on Wolverine mythology and there’s more than enough room for a bit of family drama. That family drama is something that the X-Men franchise is known for, but with perhaps the exception of Generation X, the franchise seems to be missing that feel lately. And while I’ve never know how I felt about the murumasa blade, I like that there’s now a counter to it. X-23 fans should be reading this series in general, but this issue reveals a direct connection to her origin story that’s been a long time coming and it shouldn’t be missed. It’s also well worth reading for Daken fans since he’s heavily featured in this story, and Wolverine fans because it expands on Wolverine mythology. In other words, this story arc is definitely worth picking up.