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Marvel Comics’ New Wolverine Is Refreshingly Different From the Old One

Illustration for article titled Marvel Comics’ New Wolverine Is Refreshingly Different From the Old One

The guy who was Wolverine for decades of Marvel Comics’ publishing history is dead. The new Wolverine—a female clone of Logan also known as X-23—is a stone-cold killer just like him. But she needs to figure out how to be something more.

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Spoilers follow.

Illustration for article titled Marvel Comics’ New Wolverine Is Refreshingly Different From the Old One
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A woman named Laura Kinney puts on a yellow-and-blue Wolverine costume for the first time in All-New Wolverine #1, by Tom Taylor, David Lopez, David Navarrot and Nathan Fairbairn.

Kinney has been around for years as the character X-23, starred in her own book and worked with Logan on a secret X-Men kill squad called X-Force.

One of the best sequences in this issue flashes back to a near-death moment that Laura and Logan shared after she’d been blown up by a bazooka projectile.

Illustration for article titled Marvel Comics’ New Wolverine Is Refreshingly Different From the Old One
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Laura has long tried to be more than just a killing machine. It’s a struggle that Logan faced and mostly won by the latter half of his life. He had centuries to reclaim his humanity. Laura’s been alive for only a fraction of his lifespan. Normal human interactions like making friends have been a challenge for her, especially when she’s continued to live a life where she’s had to end the existence of others.

She has managed to get close to some of her X-Men teammates over the years, including the younger version of the X-Man Angel pulled forward through the timestream. Laura is business first, though, and her business can be ugly, especially to a teammate who’s the product of a simpler era. You can see the pair’s growing pains in a snippet from this first issue.

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Illustration for article titled Marvel Comics’ New Wolverine Is Refreshingly Different From the Old One
Illustration for article titled Marvel Comics’ New Wolverine Is Refreshingly Different From the Old One
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Explosions and broken bones aside, it’s a beat that would be at home in a romantic comedy. The gritty action moments will be a given in All-New Wolverine but I hope they’re balanced by lighter moments like these. Like her predecessor, the new Wolverine was used by other people as a lethal tool. That moment with Angel illustrates that she didn’t get much affection in her old life and doesn’t quite know how to process it. Nevertheless, somewhere deep inside, she knows that she needs it. She is going to have to balance that desire with tracking down and eliminating some of the deadliest assassins on earth.

So far, it seems like All-New Wolverine is set to explore a killer X-Man that is a lot more vulnerable than the man who came before her.

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Contact the author at evan@kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

whitsongordon
Whitson Gordon

Look, I have no problem with a new, more diverse set of superheroes. It’s been a long time coming.

But I’m really worried that by not letting these new heroes have their own names on the books—which, let’s call them what they are, are brands—they’ll devalue them in the long run.

I can count on one hand the number of big-name Marvel heroes that have actually stayed dead or gone for a significant period of time. They always come back. And often they come back to take back their name from whoever replaced them. I’m worried it’s going to happen again to Wolverine, to Thor, to Captain America, etc. and that it’s going to make everything Marvel did in the name of diversity look like a failed publicity stunt.

They’re doing Spider-Man right. I’m hooked on Miles Morales and they don’t need to take away Peter Parker to get me to start reading two Spider-books. Captain Marvel is one of those heroes that isn’t really coming back, so it seems like they’re doing that one right too. But I’m worried about these others. Wolverine is too beloved and famous a character to stay dead. I’d be shocked if they didn’t bring him back. So maybe we should let X-23 stand on her own instead of giving her Logan’s old book, which she’ll inevitably have to give back when they bring Wolverine back from the dead. Why not kill the Wolverine book entirely and create a new X-23 book?

Captain America is a bit tougher, because the name of Captain America means something beyond the character’s name (Wolverine, Thor, etc.). But you get the idea.

I know there’s a big cachet with those old brands, but by resisting creating new brands, I’m afraid they’re going to be caught between a rock and a hard place when they decide to bring all the original characters back again. Maybe they won’t. Maybe this is the beginning of a truly new era. But I’ll believe it when I see it. And until then...I’m going to worry that history will repeat itself, and this will go down as another marketing stunt instead of a true commitment to a more diverse cast.