Wolverine died over a year ago, but his legacy lives on as his clone Laura Kinney, who was formerly known as X-23, dons his original blue and yellow spandex in All-New Wolverine #1. Writer Tom Taylor, artists David Lopez and David Navarrot, and colorist Nathan Fairbarn take a page out of the best solo Wolverine stories (Think the Madripoor years, or when he worked for SHIELD in the Mark Millar run.) and set the comic in Paris, whose trademark lights create gorgeous conflagrations with the explosions and Laura’s boyfriend/sidekick’s Angel’s new wings and costume. Taylor sets the tone of the book in an extended flashback featuring Wolverine and X-23 back in their X-Force days again showing off his ability to take the emotional temperature of an iconic character in a single, poignant scene. (See his underrated Batman and Superman story that concluded his run on the Injustice: Gods Among Us comic.) Then, he cuts Laura loose on fast-paced, rooftop jumping adventure with plenty of humor, darkness, and romance to spare.
Even in the darkness of Injustice and moral muddiness of Superior Iron Man, Tom Taylor brought the comic relief organically through dialogue and character interactions building character chemistry first instead of letting the quips fly off the bat. In All-New Wolverine #1, most of the humor (which is used sparingly compared to the Harley/Green Arrow antics of Injustice) comes from the awkwardness of young love between Angel and Laura. The funniest moment between them is when Angel tries to go in for a hug, but Laura waves him off because she is busy healing from multiple wounds. In Brian Michael Bendis’ run on All-New X-Men, Laura became more comfortable with physical intimacy, and Taylor keeps this element of her character in All-New Wolverine when she is bantering and teaming up with Angel. It doesn’t hurt that David Lopez is adept at both gestures and facial cartooning with Angel pulling some bewildering faces as he watches Laura walk away from an exploding Predator Drone, put out a fire on her own body, and put her own shoulder in position without breaking a sweat. Inker David Navarrot makes sure each silly expression can hit readers’ funny bones immediately.
David Lopez’s layouts are crucial to making sure that All-New Wolverine #1’s fight scenes can be the best at what they do, which is capturing the adrenaline of running on rooftops, jumping on and off planes, and battling a foe that Laura has an extremely personal connection to even if she just looks like a ninja. (Or Katana stranded in the Marvel Universe.) He translates the feel of Wolverine’s claws slicing and dicing to the comics page while returning to a grid for the more important conversations, like the flashback with Laura and Logan. The claw-like layouts allow readers to follow Laura’s body movements as she strives to help and save her opponent non-lethally instead of going for the kill shot like she has been trained to. Lopez makes ample use of speed lines to show her uncanny moves in battle and split second reflexes as she’s a slower healer than Wolverine, but quicker. He also knows when to add an exclamation point to the story with a full or double page splash, like when Angel drops her onto the Predator Drone. Basically, anything involving Laura, her adamantium claws, and that poor ol’, expensive plane is exciting.
Along with having some vicious fight scenes culminating key moment that sets both the emotional pace and premise of All-New Wolverine‘s first arc, All-New Wolverine #1 also has a wonderfully written flashback scene with Wolverine and X-23 that is an excellent lead-in to the story and action proper. David Lopez uses a grid layout for the back and forth conversation and gives Laura angry facial expressions behind her black/grey X-Force mask. And Taylor sums up Laura’s objective in this series with the well-timed Wolverine one-liner, “You’re the best there is at what you do. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it.” Laura can transcend her origin as a clone, experiment, and assassin and become a hero. She can emulate and even be better Wolverine and be violent and have a bad attitude, but pull back from taking a life. And Laura put’s Wolverine’s words into action during the events of All-New Wolverine #1 with this scene providing a thematic connection as well as familiarizing new readers with the similarities and differences between her and Wolverine.
All-New Wolverine #1 confidently establishes its premise, visual style through the slash-style layouts of David Lopez, and even comic relief in the interactions between Angel and Laura. Writer Tom Taylor and Lopez show Laura Kinney own the mantle of Wolverine as soon as she pulls off her overcoat and wears his original blue and yellow costume in the crowded streets of Paris with colorist Nathan Fairbarn blending the costume’s yellow with the twilight skyline. All-New Wolverine #1 acknowledges X-23’s past while laying the foundation for her redemption-tinged rise to the name and costume of Wolverine and has a freshness that hasn’t been present in a Wolverine comic since he was wandering around a barren wasteland fighting in-bred Hulks.