Admit it, you'd face Logan on his best day before you'd face X-23 on her worst. I almost feel bad for Wolverine's enemies that she's taking up the fight in All-New Wolverine #1...almost. I sure as hell don't feel bad enough not to review this comic. I think with fewer cantankerous old fucks in it, it has a lot going for it.
Even so, it's a Wolverine comic. That means like the VIP room in a Tijuana strip club, there are certain expectations. Well, there's no foreplay when it comes to expectations in this comic. We jump straight into the action, which involves X-23 taking a trip to Paris and beating the shit out of some random motherfuckers. But it's not as random as they sound. There is a sense of urgency. There's a sense that there's a looming threat. Whereas most people deal with them by trying to convince others that the threat is there, Wolverine skips that step and starts kicking ass. X-23 does the same thing. If I were Wolverine, I'd shed a tear of joy and down an extra bottle of tequila.
It's true. There is a valid reason why she has to start kicking ass instead of going the touchy, feely approach that every school counselor teaches. Someone is trying to kill some guy in a nice suit. He might be a politician. He might be a businessman. He might just be some random fuck who posted dick pics on someone else's Facebook account. Either way, someone wants him dead and X-23 is there to save him.
Those guys she was beating up earlier eventually get the message once someone starts shooting. That's another distinct trait of Wolverine. He'll beat the shit out of random motherfuckers, but those motherfuckers will shrug it off once they realize there's a valid reason for the urgency. Someone shooting at them is usually a damn good reason. Then, as so often happens to Wolverine when he's trying to be awesome, X-23 gets shot in the head. It would be shocking and bloody for most people. For Wolverine, it's more of a "Walk it off, you pussy!" moment.
Being shot does tend to fuck with the brain a little. Bullets have that effect. But in this case, it doesn't make X-23 see magic unicorns shitting cotton candy. Instead, she sees something more meaningful. She sees a vision of old Wolverine himself. No, he's not back from the dead already. Even he understands he has to give time for a sexy female version of Wolverine to blossom. He's just there to give X-23 a pep talk.
And it's a damn good pep talk. This isn't some bullshit Friday Night Lights speech. This is him and X-23 talking about what it means to be Wolverine, what it means to be a living weapon, and what it means to fight the motherfuckers who exploit them. It's a defining moment in that Wolverine establishes for X-23 what it means to be Wolverine. And since she's not a whiny, insecure brat who spits on the help others give her, she embraces that.
Looking at YOU Hope fucking Summers...still.
And since she's neither a whiney brat or a pussy, X-23 shakes off a bullet wound to the head the same way I shake off a hangover. She gets up in the pouring rain, ditches her disguise, and shows off her new Wolverine treads. Not gonna lie here folks. I had a smile on my face and a boner in my pants and not for the usual reasons. This isn't X-23 just wearing a Wolverine costume. She IS Wolverine now. Anyone who can't respect that at this point has no right to any boners.
Shaking off the bullet wound, the rain, and the confused Paris crowd who probably think they walked onto the set of a Micahel Bay movie, she goes to work finding the shooter. She doesn't need to look at the clues, assemble a list of suspects, and re-enact an episode of CSI. She just picks up a scent, draws her claws, and makes her way to the next motherfucker she needs to beat up. She's not Batman. She's fucking Wolverine. This is how he rolls.
He eventually finds the shooter, who looks like a smaller, less menacing version of the bad guy from Big Hero 6. There's no interrogation. There's no debate. She just starts beating the everloving shit out of this shooter. It's not a quick battle either. It's detailed, it's visceral, and it's bloody. We call this awesome. Wolverine calls this a typical Tuesday.
This tough, visceral battle doesn't reveal much other than X-23 knows how to kick ass in her new Wolverine costume. The shooter doesn't say much, but does drop a few telling hints. And no, they're not just shrugged off the way half the sub-plots in a Wachowskis movie gets shrugged off. They only get delayed because the Paris police show up to interrupt the ass-kicking. This causes the shooter to call in a drone to finish the job. Yes, assassins apparently have drones now. I guess they figure if Amazon is working on it, it can't be a bad idea.
Between the police and a killer drone, the visceral ass-kicking has to stop and for a damn good reason for once. On top of that, the shooter decided to use this as a perfect opportunity to jump off the Eiffel Tower and avoid any unpleasant chats with the cops. Sure, they're not the LAPD, but who wants to take that chance?
X-23 follows suit. As much as she wants to keep kicking ass, she does need to kind of stop this big time assassination. To do that, she gets help from her current squeeze/fling/fuck buddy O5 Angel. He's nice enough to tag along on her first mission as Wolverine and catch her after she jumps. If she lets him touch her boobs, he damn well better.
With O5 Angel's help, we get a nice areal battle over Paris. They don't have any of the typical weapons with which to fight a drone. They have no guns, no rocker launchers, or anything else that is typically found in Deadpool's shoe closet. But X-23 doesn't need that shit. She has claws and an overly concerned boyfriend willing to drop her in the pouring rain on top of a drone. I don't know if that's a metaphor for teen love, but it damn well ought to be. It's not quite a classic Wolverine fastball special, but it gets the job done.
More visceral details follow. Tom Taylor and David Lopez don't let too much shit happen off-panel here. They show X-23 doing what she does best, fighting crazy motherfuckers and blowing up shit that's trying to hurt innocent people. Armed with just claws, grit, and omega-level badassery, X-23 downs a drone with just her claws. For someone taking on Wolverine's mantel, that's basically the equivalent of the essay question on the SATs. My SAT scores were pretty shitty, but I think X-23 proved she's at an Ivy League level here.
This moment of insane, fiery badassery is also complemented with a touch of humor. Wolverine is not Deadpool. He's not going to crack the kind of jokes that makes Ryan Reynolds seem sexier by default. But he will occasionally put himself in hilarious situations. It often involves something like the Punisher shooting him in the balls. Lucky for X-23, it's not that kind of humor.
Instead, we get a nice little moment with her and O5 Angel. She's kind of fucked up, having just been shot in the head and in an explosion. He can't exactly hug her and kiss her boo-boos away. So he just pats her on the head in what might be the most awkward gesture a teenage boy has ever done that doesn't involve a picture of his dick. And X-23 actually likes it. So yeah, she's a badass. But she's a badass that appreciates her boyfriend's efforts. How many other teenage girls can say that?
But what about that shooter? What about the source for all this blood, ass-kicking, and explosions? Well, there's no bullshit mystery behind it. X-23 already knows who it is. She takes off the shitty kabuki mask and reveals that it's a clone of her. Apparently, someone decided to get back into the X-23 business again. And since X-23 probably heard from Spider-Man that clones can only fuck things up, she's on a mission to end this shit. It's what Wolverine would've wanted. It's what Wolverine would do.
It's not Sabretooth. It's not Sinister. It's a different kind of threat that X-23 has to face. She might be taking on the mantle of Wolverine, but she's still X-23. It makes for a perfect combination of what makes X-23 awesome and what makes Wolverine awesome. Like Megan Fox making out with Jennifer Lawrence, it's as beautiful a convergence you'll see in a comic book.
So...is it awesome?
Well let's channel our inner Alan Harper and make a list. This comic had heart, humor, mystery, intrigue, violence, and explosions. The real question should be how can this shit NOT be awesome? It would take actual, concerted effort on the level of Chuck Austin and Brett Ratner to make a combination like this suck. Thankfully, Tom Taylor didn't make such an effort. He took all these elements, fit them together with the precision of a custom-made bra for Pamela Anderson, and let the awesome do the rest.
I normally give multiple middle-fingers to replacement characters, but X-23 is not just some shitty, contrived replacement. She's Wolverine's clone/daughter/sister who has been growing since the moment she showed up in an episode of X-men Evolution. She earned the right to go by Wolverine. And anyone still giving her the finger at this point is just being a dick. Wherever he is, I think Logan himself would take a break from humping Jean Grey's corpse to look down on X-23 and smile. His legacy is is good hands.
Final Score: 9 out of 10