Today marks the release of “Logan,” the latest entry in the X-Men movie franchise and, assuming Hugh Jackman isn’t lying, his final turn as Wolverine after 17 years and eight prior outings as the character. The movie is earning rave reviews, particularly for its realistic violence (it’s rated R, somewhat of a rarity for superhero movies, though there are notable exceptions), lived-in Western aesthetic and compelling character work from Jackman as Wolverine/Logan, Sir Patrick Stewart as an aging Professor X and newcomer Dafne Keen as Laura, a young girl with claws of her own and superpowers similar to Wolverine’s. You may remember her from this final trailer for the movie:
Laura’s who we’re going to focus on here today. While the obvious recommendation as a tie-in to this movie would be “Old Man Logan,” the story upon which the movie is very loosely based, the fact is “Old Man Logan” is problematic in a number of ways and the movie basically just borrows some elements of the “Old Man Logan” setting and not much else. However, there is currently an ongoing series from Marvel about Laura having taken up the mantle of Wolverine after he died (minor spoiler; he’s been dead in the comics since late 2014), and it’s great. Presenting: “All-New Wolverine.”
“All-New Wolverine, Vol. 1: The Four Sisters.”
- Written by Tom Taylor
- Art by David Lopez, David Navarrot and Nathan Fairbairn
Wolverine died in the aptly named “Death of Wolverine” miniseries in 2014, but before he died he discovered he had a female clone codenamed X-23 that been created as part of the Weapon X program, the same program that had given him his claws and indestructible skeleton. Wolverine helped X-23 escape from that life and learn her name, Laura Kinney. Now that Wolverine is dead, Laura has taken up his costume and superhero career.
Why this story?
Marvel has made a significant effort in recent years to diversify its superhero lineup, both by creating new heroes (most notably Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani Muslim teen with shapeshifting powers) and by passing old superhero identities on to either new characters or previously established ones. There’s a new woman Thor, Sam Wilson shares the Captain America identity with Steve Rogers, and most recently there’s a new black, teenage, female Iron Man. But of all these transitions, Laura taking up the mantle of Wolverine is arguably the most successful for one simple reason: The old Wolverine is dead.
While Steve Rogers is still fighting crime as Captain America, the original Thor is still having his own adventures and Tony Stark is lying in a coma, Laura doesn’t feel like an asterisk because her progenitor is well and truly gone. While it’s true that almost nobody stays dead in superhero comics forever, Marvel has really committed to making Laura the new Wolverine, freeing her to have her own adventures without constantly trying to get out from under the shadow of her predecessor.
It helps that Tom Taylor, David Lopez and the other creators do a phenomenal job telling Laura’s story. While there’s the necessary fluid, occasionally bloody action…
…Taylor also makes sure to give Laura a compelling personality and arc. In this first story, Laura discovers a group of clones of her that have been created by an evil pharmaceutical company for nefarious purposes. The story revolves around Laura becoming a protector and mentor figure for the girls, just as she was taken in and mentored by Logan before he died. It also shows her struggling to curb her more violent tendencies and showing the girls how they need to do the same, because none of them need to be defined by the fact that they were created to be weapons. It’s a great introduction to Laura Kinney and a great superhero story in its own right.