Wednesday, March 9, 2016

All-New Wolverine #6: Nuff Said!

Even if 99 percent of a concept sucks worse than a Kardashian at an NBA All-Star game, there’s still that tiny 1 percent where it doesn’t suck. When it comes to stories involving clones in comics, it’s usually a matter of those that merely suck and those that would make a donkey eat its own shit until it chokes to death. Spider-Man can attest to this better than most. However, there is a sliver of that 1 percent where a clone story is capable of being awesome and all of that sliver belongs to X-23.

Yes, she’s a clone. Yes, she has abilities are pretty much the same as Wolverine. However, that’s where the similarities end. Instead of just being a clone in both looks and skills, X-23 has developed her own distinct personality. What a fucking concept, right? That personality has grown a lot since she debuted in the X-men Evolution cartoon and now she’s taken on the mantel of Wolverine. And Tom Taylor has gone out of his way to make it clear that she’s worthy of that title. All-New Wolverine #6 gives him a chance to add even more. While I’m not used to cheering for a fucked up teenage girl in any story, let alone a clone, I gladly make an exception for X-23.

Remember Captain Mooney? The man responsible for torturing X-23’s three clone sisters and killing one of them? Well, it turns out X-23 didn’t let him off easy by just straight up murdering his ass. And I’m not usually in favor of brutal slaughter unless it involves a Saw movie or sparkling vampires, but I make another exception here. If ever there was a time to employ the full brutality of Wolverine on someone who deserved it, it’s this asshole.

But X-23, much like her predecessor, understands that there’s a difference between punishing an asshole and flat out slaughtering the shit that came from it. Understanding this, she and her sisters let Mooney get away and return to his fellow assholes at Alchemax Genetics. Since he’s also a total dip-shit on top of being an asshole, he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that they let him get away so they could track him. So if anyone still had a sliver of sympathy left for this guy, he just pissed it all away.

So now they know where Captain Mooney’s base is and it’s full of the assholes behind this latest cloning clusterfuck. On top of that, X-23 and her clone sisters also stole some weapons from Captain Mooney. Did I also mention those weapons come with a big fucking jeep? So yeah, it’s going to be one of those fights. Metal claws are all well and good, but there’s just something special about driving a big fucking jeep into an evil cloning facility and blowing it the fuck up. I’m sure Peter Parker is somewhere out there shedding tears of joy.

Shit starts blowing up. People start shooting. It’s a fucking Wolverine fight. There’s not much to it and there doesn’t need to be. Once they run out of shit to blow up, X-23 and her clone sisters opts for the direct approach. That involves guns, claws, and the kind of reckless brutality that gives Quentin Tarantino a boner. It’s not overly drawn out. It doesn’t have to be. Big fucking explosions will do that. After all the shit Captain Mooney put them through, I can understand why they’d be in a hurry to fuck him up once and for all.

This does end up working against them. One of X-23’s clone sisters, Bellona, gets ahead of herself and manages to get shot in the fucking head. To those who cried at the end of Toy Story 3, don’t worry. She feels no pain and she’s a clone of X-23. Getting shot in the head is basically no worse than a toothache. It does force X-23 and her remaining sister, Gabby, to adjust their attack. But it doesn’t derail their efforts to repaint the entire base with Mooney’s blood.

Bellona is down for the count while X-23 and Gabby reorganize. But being the total dip-shits they are, the fine folk at Alchemax Genetics decide to take her body into their labs to run some tests. Because what could possibly go wrong by bringing in a pissed off clone that they already tortured once right into the heart of their facility?

The result is somewhat predictable. Bellona wakes up, but doesn’t get too stab-happy. It’s a clear sign of the effect that X-23 has had on her clone sisters. She’s managed to teach them that stabbing shit first isn’t always the most effective way to deal with a problem. Sure, it works in many situations and not just when the hipster at Starbucks gets your order wrong. But there’s a time and a place for stabbing. Two inexperienced scientists who thought it would be a good idea to work at a cloning facility isn’t one of them.

In the same way Logan helped X-23 understand the benefits of occasional mercy, X-23 is doing the same for her sisters. It’s a beautiful thing and on top of the explosions, there’s plenty of beauty to go around.

Bellona lets the hapless scientists go so they can seriously re-evaluate their choice of employer moving forward. She also hits the fire alarm because cloning facilities can’t have enough “fuck yous!” She then meets up with X-23 and Gabby, but only after she’s had a chance to slaughter and/or maim the guards that Mooney called in for backup. Remember, I did say they learned occasional mercy from X-23. This just wasn’t one of those occasions. If nothing else, it should discourage anyone from ever being a guard at a cloning facility.

There was another benefit to letting those scientists go. They agreed, probably after shitting themselves multiple times, to upload all of Alchemax Genetics’ dirty data into a server for SHIELD. X-23 then makes a personal call to Maria Hill, who doesn’t appreciate it at first, but I imagine that shutting down an illegal cloning facility is one of the few things that’ll put a smile on her face that doesn’t involve putting bullets in the Red Skull.

They still can’t let SHIELD have all the fun. There’s no way they’re going to let anyone just arrest Captain Mooney so he can live out his days in a cozy prison cell. That’s too much mercy. Even Charles Xavier would call that excessive. So together, as only a clone and her clone sisters can, they find Captain Mooney as he’s trying to escape, and they fuck him up one last time. It’s not quite as bad as it was in the previous issue. Again, it doesn’t have to be. This is just them finishing what they started. Tom Taylor put a lot of time and effort into making us hate Captain Mooney’s guts. So when X-23 and her clone sisters finally murder his ass, it’s as satisfying as a blowjob and a cold beer.

With Mooney dead, that leaves just one asshole left to stop the flow of clone shit. That asshole is Chandler, the stereotypical creepy old guy who looks like someone who would clone a bunch of teenage girls for sickeningly obscene reasons. While he didn’t torment X-23’s clone sisters as directly as Mooney did, he’s still chief asshole of this latest cloning clusterfuck. X-23 makes sure he gets a hard lesson in what it feels like to be turned into a meat puppet. It’s not even remotely as sexy as it sounds.

It’s another defining moment for X-23 and one that shows her growth, both as Wolverine and as a character. Her first inclination is probably to slaughter him and use his entrails as cake toppings. However, Logan and the X-men taught her restraint on a level that is not often associated with living weapons. It gives her the strength to spare Chandler so that he can rot in a prison cell, courtesy of Maria Hill. It’s a defining strength for Wolverine and one X-23 wields proudly. Excuse me. I just teared up a little.

X-23 isn’t the only one to show the value of the lessons she’s learned. Gabby, the smaller and cuter of the clone sisters, shows that she’s learned that lesson as well. Make no mistake though. She’s not Disney princess. She could kill Chandler with a bobby pin if she wanted. She gets a chance to at least take an eye out or kick out a couple of teeth. But like X-23, she shows that she knows the merits of restraint. She just makes him shit himself one last time before she leaves.

So Gabby learns a lesson that X-23 took much longer to learn under Logan. Ignoring for a moment Logan’s poor teaching skills, it helps create another nice moment between X-23 and her new clone sister. Gabby isn’t Ben Riley. She’s not Kaine Parker either. Like X-23, she was an innocent victim who was born and bred to kill. She dared to give a big middle finger to that purpose and X-23 helped her. It’s a perfect summation of all the themes that make X-23 awesome and now she gets to share that awesome with a kid sister. It couldn’t be more fitting without having its own show on the Disney Channel, albeit with less blood and explosions.

But what about Bellona? She’s not as cute as Gabby and not quite as inclined to embrace the lessons X-23 taught. So ended up ditching X-23, but left Chandler behind for SHIELD. So what’s next for her? Make a living as a cos-player or a professional buffalo wing eater? Well, she already has a new career in mind and that career has a partner. And as it just so happens, it’s someone who regularly pleasures herself to X-23’s suffering.

Yes, it’s Kimura. X-23 fans who followed her during her New X-men days can take a moment to squee. Logan had Sabretooth as an arch nemesis for decades. Kimura is as close a nemesis as X-23 has. She’s as menacing as she is doable. And now she has an X-23 clone at her disposal. The horror and the awesome of the possibilities cannot be understated. it awesome?

Yes. No ambiguity. No poop joke. Just a plain, simple fuck-the-hell yes. All-New Wolverine #6 is awesome. All-New Wolverine as a concept is awesome. The fact I’m saying this about a clone makes it worth emphasizing just how awesome it is. X-23 isn’t just a clone anymore. She’s fucking Wolverine. She doesn’t just embody who he is or once was. She’s carrying on his legacy in all the right ways.

Beyond the potent mix of brutality and heart, Tom Taylor captured all the right elements of a Wolverine story. It’s a story that feels like it could work with Logan just as well as it could with X-23. But it’s the reveal at the end that helps reinforce that this is X-23’s story and not just Logan’s. While this might not be sufficient for those who want Logan to return from the dead as we all know he will at some point, be it a retcon or more time travel bullshit, those same people can’t deny that X-23 can rock that yellow spandex in all the right ways. Plus, with all due respect to Hugh Jackman, it looks way better on her anyways.

Final Score: 10 out of 10


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