A quick flash to Old Man Logan's dystopian shit storm of a future makes my asshole clench that much harder. He establishes very clearly that he hates Gabby. He hates her the same way I hate parking tickets and non-alcoholic beer. He hates her so much that he kicks over her grave, spits on it, and encourages the world to do the same. Even by Wolverine standards, that's cold.
At the very least, it provides some context to the emotional gut punch we got at the end of the previous issue. Old Man Logan hates Gabby and for reasons that are only partially clear, he's eager to take her out of the equation, so much so that he'll do it with a goddamn smile if he could. It adds the kind of dramatic weight to the story that has helped make this series so awesome. The fact Tom Taylor does it without a pet wolverine makes it all the more astonishing.
Back in the present, the feels from that emotional gut punch still sting like a bitch. Unless you're overdosing on anti-depressants or have a severe personality disorder, seeing X-23 hold Gabby's body will create a lump in anyone's throat for all the right reasons. All the while, Captain America worries more about the hapless SHIELD agents who Old Man Logan roughed up. That's right. He's more concerned with the well-being of SHIELD agents than that of a young mutant girl who just got stabbed. That, my friends, tells you everything you need to know about how Marvel sees mutants these days.
Naturally, X-23 is several different kinds of pissed off. It's not enough a couple of dip-shit burglars shot Jonathan the Wolverine a few issues back. Now, her adorable clone sister got stabbed by a grumpy alternate version of her father. There are bad days, shitty days, and then there's this. When we have days like this, we're perfectly entitled to stab anything within a 50 foot radius.
At least X-23 knows how to channel her anger appropriately, which sets her apart from 95 percent of every teenage girl I've ever known. If she's going to stab anyone, it's going to be Old Man Logan. There's a few more heartfelt moments with X-23 and Gabby, which should make that lump in your throat feel like a fucking coconut at this point, and then X-23 runs off after Old Man Logan. He stabs her clone sister. She makes his present way more dystopian than any shitty future he comes from. That's just how it works.
With help from Maria Hill, a phrase that rarely ends without someone getting shot or stabbed, X-23 tracks Old Man Logan into the nearby sewer system. He's a grumpy old fuck who has been shot with enough tranquilizers to give Ozzy Osborn a mild buzz so he doesn't get far. This means less searching and more X-23 beating the living shit out of him.
This is where David Lopez gives us one of the most satisfying scenes of this series to date, at least the one that doesn't involve Jonathan the Wolverine or X-23 flying around on a jet pack naked. It's X-23 vs. Old Man Logan. Any chance they had at a meaningful relationship is pretty much shot to shit and pissed on for good measure. It's angry. It's brutal. It's visceral. It's dramatic. In other words, it's everything that makes a Wolverine battle awesome, minus sexy redheads and Japanese hookers.
As this epic stab-fest is unfolding, things are more solemn on the surface. Captain America is prepared to fit Gabby with a toe tag and send her off to wherever SHIELD stacks the mounting pile of mutant bodies. Then, just when that lump in your throat is about to take a baseball bat to your tear ducts, Gabby wakes up. Just like that, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
That's right. She's the clone of X-23, someone who gets blown up and walks it off. On paper, that sounds so obvious and predictable. What Tom Taylor did though was give it a major dramatic impact, something that is hard to do with X-23. Keep in mind, this is someone who was tricked into killing her own mother. The bar for drama is pretty fucking high and he matched it. That's a hell of an accomplishment.
Back in the sewers, shit is still pretty brutal and stabby. Old Man Logan, still doped up on SHIELD tranquilizers, is in a total berserker rage. Given how badly that shit has screwed him over in his future, you'd think he'd be a bit more careful about it. Then again, maybe SHIELD tranquilizers are just that shitty.
They have to be because when they wear off, Old Man Logan gets a little less brutal. He must have forgotten that he's fighting a pissed off teenage girl now. That's never a good tactic, no matter how tough you are or how fast you heal. He tries to apologize. He tries to make excuses. X-23 isn't having that shit. He may as well try to justify giving the Jersey Shore more than one season. It can't be done.
Lucky for him, Gabby catches up and stops X-23 from turning Old Man Logan into glorified rat shit. This immediately calms X-23 down. There aren't many forces in the Marvel universe that can do that. A hug from an adorable clone sister is one of them. There's something wonderfully fitting about that.
However, Old Man Logan has to double down on being an ass this time, saying he didn't know she was going to heal. That means he really wanted to kill her. He does try to explain himself to some extent. He claims that Gabby ends up killing X-23 in his world. The problem is, that's his world. His world is already fucked. This world is only semi-fucked, but it's because of Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners and not because someone mind-fucked Wolverine.
X-23 makes it clear that he's now permanently etched on her shit list. She even twists the knife a little more, pointing out that pretty much everyone in Old Man Logan's future got fucked over just by knowing him. Is it harsh? Fuck yes. Is it appropriate for a guy who just stabbed a young girl? Definitely.
As harsh as it is, it does feel lacking in one important area. We really don't get many other details as to how and why X-23 and Gabby kill each other in Old Man Logan's timeline. It's a pretty important detail and one that feels incomplete. We know that this is the excuse Old Man Logan uses to attack Gabby, but is that really all there is to it? We basically just have to take his word for it and this is a guy who just stabbed a child. How trustworthy can his word be?
It makes for some less-than-dramatic threats at the end, but still leaves more than a few blanks. Gabby and Old Man Logan make clear that they will not be friends in this timeline. X-23 also makes clear that he's not the same Logan she knew and loved. It's a tense way to end their first encounter. Given all the stabbing though, it's still disturbingly fitting.
This leads to one last conversation between X-23 and Captain America. Again, it's less-than-dramatic. X-23 basically just lectures him on why heroes fighting heroes is a shitty idea. It's a lecture that feels several years too late. If only someone had pointed this out before Avengers vs. X-men. Maybe we wouldn't be in a world where Marvel feels like its heroes have to try to kill each other at least once a year. It's late and effectively moot at this point. If nothing else, it makes clear to Cap and SHIELD that X-23 is not going to stand for their shit. Honestly, who can blame her?
So...is it awesome?
Well, I didn't end up having to brace myself too much, but I'm glad I did anyhow. All-New Wolverine #12 makes good use of X-23's personal drama and Gabby's cuteness. The only one who doesn't seem to benefit here is Old Man Logan. The fact that Gabby survives is probably the most important reason why this comic is awesome. She, along with Jonathan the Wolverine, is a major reason why this series is so great. Beyond that though, there's not much worth bracing for.
We never find out the particulars of why Old Man Logan hates Gabby so much in his world. That lack of painfully dramatic details keeps All-New Wolverine #12 from having the same emotional gut punch as the last issue. However, it does establish clearly that X-23 does not see Old Man Logan as the same Logan who died. That's an important element to establish, if for no other reason than to make clear that she accepts no substitutes. Being a clone herself, that's a bit hypocritical, but entirely understandable.
Final Score: 7 out of 10