Saturday, January 16, 2016

All-New Wolverine #4: Nuff Said!

It's good to help people. It's not just a decent thing to do. It makes the world a better place. And in a world where Ryan Secrest is somehow a celebrity, we need that. Wolverine is very familiar with the shittiest parts of the world and he's probably gotten drunk in most of them. But he still tried to help as best he could. If he could get drunk and fuck a few Japanese hookers, then that was a nice bonus.

Now X-23 is trying to carry on that legacy, trying to make the world a better place. She might not be able to help the Japanese hookers like her predecessor, but she's already off to a great start. She found a few renegade clones of hers that were being manipulated like typical Wolverine-esque meat puppets. She's trying desperately to help him and in All-New X-men #3, she enlists Dr. Strange's help to aid them. Because nothing EVER goes wrong from getting entangled with Dr. Strange, this might be a boring review. I'll still try to make it fun and hope my sarcasm isn't too subtle.

X-23 wants to help her clone sisters. They’ve been meat puppets long enough. X-23 knows better than most that life as a meat puppet sucks elephant balls. But to help them, she needs to undo some of the shit their creators did. And since she’s no Reed Richards, she enlists Dr. Strange’s help. This unfortunately means hanging out at the Sanctum Sanctorum, a place where a demon getting loose counts as a slow news day. It’s a perfect place for a bunch of messed up teenage girls to hang out. They’d be safer running around in bikinis at a frat party covered in whiskey.

Even so, Dr. Strange agrees to at least see what he’s up against. He uses the Eye of Agamotto to discover that helping these girls is going to be slightly harder than a simple demon exorcism…or 10 for that matter. He finds out one already wants to murder him and paint pictures with his blood. The sad thing is that’s probably normal for meat puppets in the Marvel universe. If it existed in the real world, it would probably be covered under Obamacare without the co-pay. Even so, it’s still enough to give Dr. Strange pause and wonder if he’s better off just exorcising demons.

This leads to a powerful moment between X-23 and Dr. Strange. She’s intent on helping her sisters. She then asks Dr. Strange to use that same eye on her, which is the equivalent of Googling her with 10 supercomputers. In doing so, we get a quick recap of what X-23 has endured since she shed her meat puppet baggage. Anyone who has kept up with her won’t be surprised. For Dr. Strange, however, it’s probably more disturbing than any demon not attached to Marilyn Manson.

It’s an important moment because it reminds us readers, especially those who don’t always read comics sober, of where X-23 came from. She’s not Logan. She’s got her own demons and she doesn’t have the luxury of amnesia. It’s more than enough to convince Dr. Strange that she’s worthy of wielding the title of Wolverine, despite what assholes on the internet might say. Some of us don’t need to be convinced that she’s worthy. But like the joys of eating bacon with whiskey, it’s worth reinforcing.

This powerful moment is followed up by something much more generic. Apparently, leaving three troubled teenage girls alone in a room with all sorts of mystical shit wasn’t a good idea. I don’t need no Eye of Agamotto to tell me that. I guess X-23 and Dr. Strange just love finding out the hard way because one of X-23’s clone sisters decided to shoot one of those artifacts, thereby releasing a demon. There’s nothing all that distinct about it. It’s just another demon that needs exorcising/stabbing.

It makes for a fairly generic, but nicely detailed battle. It’s as basic a team-up as can be, Wolverine and Dr. Strange. Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring as Batman/Superman, Wolverine/Spider-Man, or whiskey/steak. But it’s perfectly in line with Wolverine’s tradition of helping to stab crazy shit while the other guy just watches. It helps that X-23’s clone sisters get in on the action, but they really don’t add much to it. They fight the creature, protect the civilians, and give Dr. Strange the time he needs for his balls to descend so he can help. It’s only slightly more thrilling than watching James Bond shoot an army of henchmen.

Generic or not, it is a battle that contributes something to the story. In the course of the fight, one of X-23’s clone sisters is injured. It’s not clear at what point she was injured. In a battle against a demon, there possibilities range from a simple possession to being sodomized by Mephisto. In this case, it turns out the demon doesn’t cause the injury. There’s something else at work and fighting a demon just made it worse, as is often the case. It’s like adding crack to your coffee before a driving test. It’s not going to end well.

Not knowing if this requires an exorcism or just some bed rest, they get her to a hospital where Dr. Strange sneaks them into an MRI room. He’s still a doctor last I checked so he’s technically not out of place. He’s just not asking for an insurance card first, which I’m sure is a high crime at this or any other American hospital.

It helps make for another nice moment though. X-23 may have revealed how fucked up she was before becoming the new Wolverine earlier. She reveals here as her clone sister suffers that she wants to comfort her. Unlike Logan, she won’t tell her to throw some dirt on it, drink some whiskey, and walk it off. It’s how she sets herself apart and her clone sister understands that. It’s the kind of setting that usually leads to music in a Disney movie.

That’s not to say this is a scene that’ll only appeal to Frozen fans. While X-23 consoles her clone sisters, the other stand outside the door and dissuade any doctors/lawyers/insurance agents from entering. And they do it with their own unique personality. It’s one of those less serious moments that helps lighten the mood. And at a time when every X-men comic seems to go out of their way to bash Cyclops or lament how fucked mutants are, this is a nice touch.

Dr. Strange eventually concludes that X-23’s clone sisters don’t have any mystical issues they can fix. They have little robots in their brains that will probably kill them worse than binge-watching the last three seasons of American Idol all at once. It’s not a demon that can be exorcised. But it can be fought. That just means teaming up with someone else. In this case, it’s Ant Man. It’s another moment that would make Logan proud, jumping from one random team-up to another. It reflects nicely how Wolverine gets around in the Marvel universe and not just at bars and Japanese brothels. it awesome?

Even if Logan's standards are low, as X-23 claimed, this series has raised the bar in all the right ways. It isn't just X-23 fighting Logan's old battles or paying off all the bartenders he's indebted himself to. She's still fighting her own battles. She's just doing it as Wolverine. And like her predecessor, she's easy to team up with and adds her own unique awesome to any character she meets. Not saying Dr. Strange needed it, but I think Benedict Cumberbatch is still grateful.

This plot with her clone sisters continues to take numerous turns. It's not yet dragging, but it's coming dangerously close. Tom Taylor does a good job of fleshing out their personalities and putting him in situations where they have to match X-23's badassery. Those situations may be generic. Nobody’s panties are getting wet from fighting another one of Dr. Strange's monsters. But All-New Wolverine #3 makes it clear that it's probably smart to keep some spare panties around just in case.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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