By Tom Taylor, Leonard Kirk & Michael Garland
All-New Wolverine #19 kicks off a brand-new arc for the series as Laura has lost her trigger-scent and now can fight, along with her pre-teen clone Gabby, on her own terms. Trouble isn’t far around the corner, however, as both of them find themselves facing against a new threat in the form a virus that could put anyone who comes into contact with it into danger – including superheroes. Despite the best efforts to contain the virus, it plunged into Roosevelt Island and created instant chaos in the city, and Laura is one of the first responders.
The book itself does a decent job at welcoming those readers who might be curious to read some of Laura’s solo adventures after watching Logan earlier this year at the cinemas. This arc has been billed as a new jumping-on point and it does so effectively. The narration serves as a good way to draw readers in and Tom Taylor (an experienced writer for both DC and Marvel) knows how to create a good hook at the beginning of the storyline. This issue is another great example of that skill. For now, the book doesn’t quite put Laura in the spotlight enough to separate it from a team event, with characters like Riri Williams and Captain Marvel also featuring. As such, there isn’t enough time to flesh out the core dynamic between Laura and Gabby.
The dialogue could use work. It feels a bit forced and uneven in places, particularly in regards to the exposition. It isn’t really needed. The mystery is developed strongly enough that it could have been done without, and as a result, it kind of brings everything down. That said this is the first issue of a new arc and a certain amount of set-up is expected, so hopefully future issues can further flesh out the Laura and Gabby dynamic. That is one of the best parts of this comic, showing the two working together really well. As the regular writer on this series, Taylor knows what makes them tick and it’s no surprise to see that when the two characters are together, it’s when the book is at its best.
The artwork from Leonard Kirk is good for the most part, and there are no major issues here. Kirk handles the violence and action pretty well, fleshing out Laura as we get to see her unleashed, tearing her into her foes. The general dark tone of Michael Garland’s palette is really successful at establishing the mood and feel of the book. The atmosphere being created here is a good indicator that the series is only going to get darker going forward. It’s worth paying attention to Kirk’s character design too, with Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, Wolverine, and Ironheart all getting portrayed effectively. The characters from the wider Marvel Universe don’t look out of place in All-New Wolverine and the tone of the book doesn’t feel altered to accommodate them. Ideally, the characters won’t be featured as heavily going forward, as too many cameos too often could lead it to becoming a team book and the book is at its best when it limits its focus to just one or two characters.
Regardless of what direction this series goes from here, All-New Wolverine #19 is a promising beginning to an arc that benefits from a strong narrative hook that has enough mystery to keep readers coming back for more.