The first arc of All-New Wolverine gave X-23 a chance to show that she's worthy of that legacy. Anyone who doubted her probably kicked themselves in the balls after reading it. She showed the heart, honor, and willingness to stab the right people that would've made Logan proud. But, after saving her clone sisters, there are still plenty more people to stab. All-New Wolverine #7 has her take a break from all the stabbing. And let’s face it, she’s earned it. Even Logan needed a break every now and then. Every brewery and redheaded hooker in Canada would probably agree.
It’s not just the stabbing that wears her out. X-23 also has more baggage than most teenage girls and I’m not just talking about some bitch stealing her prom date. She’s still dealing with the death of Logan, her genetic and de-facto father. And Tom Taylor makes it a point to remind us of that in a flashback, one that evokes just the right set of emotions that makes X-23 a great character and the complete antithesis of Hope fucking Summers.
It’s a powerful moment, one where she urges Logan not to run off. She claims she doesn’t belong with the X-men. Everyone is afraid of her, ignoring at the time that an angry teenage girl is barely the 10th scariest thing the X-men deal with. But Logan shows better parenting skills than 95 percent of everyone who ever appeared on Jerry Springer. He urges her to stay and succeed where he fails. And hanging out with him tends to get her shot, burned, and disemboweled and that’s just from when he pisses off Cyclops. She’s better off not making his mistakes.
It’s a great moment and one Hope fucking Summers never learned form.
That moment gets even more feels when X-23 wakes up from the memory, still urging Logan not to leave. Him being dead now should evoke that sad yet fuzzy feeling in your heart that you probably haven’t felt since the first time you saw the Lion King. Having just rescued her own share of vulnerable clone sisters, she could use Logan’s help more than ever. Were he not dead, he’d have dropped the whiskey bottle and put his pants back on to help. But he’s not here and it’s sad in a beautiful sort of way.
So how do you cheer someone like X-23 up? This looks like a job for Squirrel Girl! Seriously, who is more qualified to cheer up a pissed off teenage girl than someone who is a walking ball of warm, fuzzy joy? And unlike whiskey and hookers, she’ll put a smile on your face for all the right reasons, minus the dry heaves.
She arrives with X-23 carrying a wolverine. No, not the one that looks like a bearded Hugh Jackman. I mean an actual wolverine. He even has a name. She calls him Jonathan, which is kind of like naming a grizzly bear Percy. But it sounds exactly like something Squirrel Girl would do. She’s going to seek Wolverine out for help. Why not bring a real wolverine? Did I mention Squirrel Girl is a non-genius teenage girl who hasn’t been emotionally traumatized yet? Hope that helps make more sense of it.
It turns out bringing an actual wolverine was ingenuous. For reasons that only make sense in Joe Quesada’s mind, the wolverine takes to Gabby like a kitten to a ball of yarn. It’s disturbingly adorable and astonishingly fitting. A clone of Wolverine’s clone with a pet wolverine? It’s basically the perfect pitch for a G-rated Disney movie. The soundtrack alone will kick Frozen’s ass.
But beyond getting Gabby a new pet, Squirrel Girl says she’s there to confront X-23. Apparently, she has a mission for her. This being Squirrel Girl, those missions usually involve little stabbing and more chirping. But after what X-23 went through in the first arc, maybe she could use a little chirping.
X-23 agrees to the mission, if only because Squirrel Girl saved her the trouble of buying Gabby a stuffed animal. However, before she leaves, she confronts Gabby in another emotional moment that echoes with the same feels as the earlier flashback. Gabby doesn’t want her to leave, just like X-23 didn’t want Logan to leave. It beautifully parallels the emotions that X-23 has struggled with throughout her history. If this really were a Disney movie, it would be the perfect moment for a Let It Go style song. It also gives Gabby a chance to show that despite being a clone, she’s an adorable young character with plenty to offer. She’s worth saving and adoring.
You hear that, Hope fucking Summers? This is where you done fucked up.
The mission involved isn’t going to raise anyone’s blood pressure more than a Looney Toons rerun. X-23 and Squirrel Girl venture off on a mission to find a missing squirrel that disappeared after a tree got knocked over. Yes, this is the sort of mission Squirrel Girl prioritizes. And you know what? I don’t have a problem with that at all. That’s not just the weed talking either. It’s just one of those cute little eccentricities that the Marvel universe needs in a world full of killer robots, ugly aliens, and Hope fucking Summers.
X-23 employs her Wolverine skills, picking up a scent and tracing the missing squirrel to some upscale apartment where douche-bags and Donald Trump supporters probably live. There’s no elaborate break-in. Nobody gets stabbed, maimed, or even woken up. It’s not as boring as it sounds. It’s just how things usually go with Squirrel Girl. And after all the grotesque violence in the first issue, this is kind of refreshing. X-23 was due for a break in the violence almost as much as she was due a break from O5 Angel’s whining.
Naturally, X-23 succeeds in her mission with Squirrel Girl. Again, nobody needs stabbing. Sinister didn’t capture the missing squirrel or anything. Mole Man didn’t try to turn it into a monster. Some dipshit kid just captured the squirrel and tried to keep it in a box like a pet, as many dipshit kids tend to do at some point in their lives. At first, they worry that the squirrel might be dead, which is like throwing a kid’s Halloween candy in a furnace. Thankfully, the kid who took the squirrel wasn’t a future serial killer or republican presidential candidate. The squirrel is alive, well, and Squirrel Girl is squeeing with joy. I dare anyone to see that and not smile.
They return the grateful squirrel to its family. And, still being a lovable teenage girl, convinces X-23 to take a selfie and swap numbers. X-23 even cracks a smile, something Wolverine doesn’t usually do unless he sees a naked Jean Grey. It’s a beautiful moment where X-23 finds joy in something that doesn’t involve stabbing. It seems downright therapeutic, not to mention refreshing. It also gives me up that this isn’t the last team-up between Squirrel Girl and X-23. They may not be Cable and Deadpool, but they certainly have the potential to be, minus Deadpool’s dick jokes.
Thanks to Squirrel Girl’s adorable influence, it inspires X-23 to share a nice moment with Gabby. She basically says to her what Logan never got a chance to say. She promises she’ll help her and she won’t just ditch her. Yes, I’m referring to Hope fucking Summers again. I’m sorry, but I do feel like that shit is worth emphasizing because this has the exact opposite effect. It’s heartfelt, dramatic, and brings out the best in both characters. It’s the greatest non-lesbian moment two young female characters can share.
So...is it awesome?
Before I answer that, let me just say this. Any story that has Squirrel Girl in it gives me the insatiable urge to hug a stuffed animal. Don't judge me. I have issues. Putting her in a story with X-23 sounds like something that can only work with the aid of really good weed, but I actually read All-New Wolverine #7 sober and I still wanted to hug that stuffed animal. So fuck yes, this was pretty awesome.
It's still a huge fucking shift compared to the last few issues. Nobody got stabbed, decapitated, or bludgeoned in this issue. And this is a fucking Wolverine comic. It's like an episode of South Park without the fart jokes. It seems off, but it still works. I mean, it has an adorable pre-teen girl hugging an actual wolverine. Where else outside of a fucked up beer commercial are you going to get that?
Final Score: 7 out of 10