For now, X-23’s immediate concern is saving her clone sisters with the help of Wasp. Dr. Strange couldn’t do dick other than let her know that magic isn’t going to do jack shit for her. She needs to get scientific with saving her sisters and that’s just what she does in All-New Wolverine #4. I doubt she’ll have time to bang Wasp. If Wasp had red hair, they might squeeze it in. For now, X-23 will settle for making a decent clone story and it’s not every day I can say that with a straight face.
Wasp sure doesn’t have a straight face when she finds X-23 trying to steal Ant Man’s suit. She’s even less thrilled to find out that Dr. Strange used his magic to basically let X-23 and her clone sisters into her lab. I know magic doesn’t have a lot of rules and the Marvel universe has enough teleporters to start its own uber rip-off, but barging in without permission is still a dick move.
Dick move or not, X-23 still needs Ant Man’s tech. There’s a bunch of nano-robots inside one of her sisters, Zelda to be specific, and she’s not going to wait around for modern medicine to come up with some overpriced cure that an insurance company will probably price-gouge. She wants to shrink down to the size of a cell and beat the shit out of these robots one-by-one. It’s the most potent and badass kind of medicine that doesn’t involve a bottle of Jack Daniels.
While I’m sure this procedure would never get the approval of the AMA, there are others who are just as interested in stopping this shit even before Big Pharma lobbyists get involved. Throughout this clone story that hasn’t sucked, there has been a much less sexier version of Patrick Stewart pulling the strings. He’s the one behind X-23’s clones and he’s only now realizing what a big fucking mistake that was. He already hired Taskmaster to take them out and failed miserably. So he’s giving his people one last chance to finish the job before he resorts to calling Spider-man for advice.
Wasp, having calmed down from her burning desire to strangle Dr. Strange, agrees to help X-23. She lends her Ant Man’s suit and they shrink down Magic School Bus style to enter Gabby’s bloodstream. It’s not as gross or as sexy as it sounds, being inside a teenage girl’s body. The visuals are stunning and wonderfully detailed while never feeling like a biology lesson. And once they find their first nano-robot, X-23 does what she does bests and starts stabbing shit. No matter what the scale, she kicks ass and it’s a sight to behold.
The treatment is working. That’s great news for Zelda and for Big Pharma. Why create chemical cocktails of drugs that make us shit ourselves when you can just inject a pissed off micro-sized Wolverine into your bloodstream? I bet you could even take it with alcohol. The only ones not thrilled about this are the assholes trying to rid the world of yet more clones. This is normally a respectable endeavor, but in this case it’s a dick move on any scale.
The battle inside Zelda rages and despite the microscopic scale, it’s as epic as any battle involving Wolverine and killer robots can be. This is great news for Zelda’s health and shitty news for assholes who don’t like being stabbed. She actually wakes up to greet her sisters. It’s a nice moment in that they actually act like sisters rather than clones. I want to say it shows that Marvel has learned their lessons when it comes to clones, but I don’t want to jinx it.
Everything seems to be looking up for X-23’s clone sisters. At the rate they’re going, they’ll be one big happy clone family soon enough. I’m sure TLC and A&E are already on the phones negotiating rights for a reality show. Unfortunately, those same people that are overdue for a stabbing finally catch up with them and they manage to shoot Zelda, who is already sick mind you.
Now I’m still not a fan of clones. I still see them as the Rob Schneider of comic book characters. But when someone who is very sick gets shot just as they’re recovering, that’s several steps beyond a dick move. Throw in an explosion and we’re entering uncharted territory. It’s dangerous because it’s actually making me feel sorry for clones. That alone says a lot about what Tom Taylor has accomplished here.
The shot and the explosion effectively fucks up X-23 and Wasp’s rescue efforts inside Zelda. They start feeling the turbulence that often comes with an explosion at any scale. Then, Captain Mooney, the guy tasked with sending these clones to join the Ben Rileys of the Marvel Universe, enters the scene to finish the job. If ever a dick move took human form, it would be this guy. Zelda’s sisters naturally try to defend her and there isn’t enough stabbing they can do to rectify this situation. That doesn’t mean seeing Captain Mooney getting his nose broken isn’t satisfying. I’m just saying it’s way less than he deserves.
He’s able to fight off Zelda’s sisters. Then, because he’s just that determined to be the biggest douche-bag not campaigning for Donald Trump, he shoots Zelda. Keep in mind, she’s already sick. He might as well have kicked a sick puppy. The fact that this man’s limbs remain intact is an affront to all things decent.
X-23 seems to agree with this and manages to escape and enlarge just in time to attack Captain Mooney. She wounds him while Wasp puts him in a world of pain, but it’s still way less than he deserves. If the strength of every villain is the extent to which he goes out of his way to be hated, then this guy is pretty fucking strong. X-23 could carve out one of his kidneys, shove it up his ass, make him piss it out of his urethra and it still wouldn’t be enough. A guy has to be a hell of a dick for me to start rooting for clones and this Captain Mooney just raised the bar.
But if you can stop fantasizing about all the ways Mephisto will be torturing Captain Mooney, you can also appreciate the last moment Zelda shares with X-23 and her sisters. At this point, her wounds are fatal. Anyone with X-23’s blood in their veins is going to be tough by default. But when the punishment involves bullets, explosions, and killer robots in the bloodstream, even she has her limits.
It still makes for a solemn and dramatic moment. The death of a clone is often viewed with the same dramatic weight as an overdue library book. Tom Taylor made sure this one felt meaningful. It strikes X-23 and her sisters on a deeply personal level. The weight of that impact is beautifully proportional to the scope and scale of the story. X-23 may have whiney boyfriend in O5 Angel, but nobody can say she doesn’t have a heart.
While the weight of the drama is appropriate, it doesn’t last. It really can’t because X-23 has two more sisters who probably have killer robots in their blood as well. And they also have Captain Mooney captive, who may or may not have information about the asshole who thinks putting killer robots in teenage girls is a good idea. Whatever the case, they have someone they can take their grief out on. I’d say Odin have mercy on Captain Mooney, but he’s way past the point of deserving it.
So...is it awesome?
It has X-23 kicking ass on a macro and micro scale, proving once again that size really doesn’t matter outside gay porn. All-New Wolverine #5 continues the story in a meaningful, dramatic way. What happens at the end with Zelda ensures it has the kind of impact that’s somewhere between a joyful sob and a good blowjob. Wolverine’s story has always been filled with heavy drama about losing loved ones. X-23 is continuing that tradition in all the right ways. I honestly didn’t think I could ever give a sliver of a fuck about a clone after the Clone Saga. This issue proved I still have some fucks left to give. X-23 has already proven she’s worthy of being Wolverine. Now, she’s just finding ways to overachieve.
Final Score: 9 out of 10