Comic Book Review: All-New Wolverine #8
All-New Wolverine #8 is an issue I really wish I could like more. I had high hopes for this series as Wolverine seems to be a title that I should turn my nose up at due to the name sake character’s over exposure and dominance of much of X-Men’s history but Marvel has always wrangled up some of my personal favorite writers for the book. The first six issues of this series followed Laura Kinney, the Wolverine, in a high stakes battle trying to save the lives of three clones of her who were transformed into super soldiers only to turn on their creators. It was an immensely rewarding and emotional story with all sorts of twists and turns, cameos which somehow didn’t feel forced in, and one of the few times I’ve been distraught over someone dying in a comic in recent memory. After a quite delightful little one-shot guest starring Squirrel Girl, Wolverine has taken up to raising her youngest clone Gabby and the book appears to be taking a lighter beat in its stories.
The cover is by Bengal and like many of his covers for this book, it’s simple yet effective. Wolverine stands claws out looking at the reader while in the shadow of her predecessor. It’s a clever image, especially given how looming and massive Logan’s shadow is presented. There’s some noted way that both character’s claws run parallel but in opposite directions. As many other critics have pointed out, Wolverine isn’t posed to favor the male gaze, instead a confident but still hunched and animalistic stance.
The issue opens up on a S.H.I.E.L.D. sting operation that busts up an arms deal. A scientist is sealing a box containing immense power to some questionable people. When the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents jetpack in, the box is opened and the agents look on in horror. Wolverine struggles with the proper means to integrate Gabby into normal life before she’s contacted by Maria Hill, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, who wants her incredible scent powers to figure out what in the world happened to her agents and the arms dealers. The issue is written by series writer Tom Taylor, who is clearly going for a more light-heated and humorous tone for this new storyline. The issue features a number of Joss Whedon-styled witticisms and an unconventional animal sidekick. By far the one I find most irritating is the appearance of one of Marvel’s characters who’s ceased to be interesting and more become a fan servicey meme like MODOK or Deadpool. This direction makes sense as Wolverine is trying to escape her violent past much like she wants Gabby to escape hers, but I can’t find myself invested in that direction. Marvel has a number of more light-hearted comedy books with female leads with the likes of Hellcat, Ms. Marvel, and Squirrel Girl. It’s especially notable when it lacks the punch of the earlier arc. I realize there’s a particular annoying breed of men on the internet who complain comics aren’t as grim or dark and as seen with the creative direction of Rat Queens, far too often does the industry try to pass off male written books starring violent action heroines as progress, but Taylor has often been the writer to pull off books that shouldn’t work. He’s the writer who took the generic and by the numbers set up of Injustice: Gods Among Us and turned it into a complex roller-coaster and single-handedly launched him into the spotlight. He totally made a hyper-violent female superhero struggling with her violent nature work and if All-New Wolverine plans to turn into more of the same from Marvel, I don’t see myself reading much more.
The artwork is by Marcio Takara who is a definitely talented but overall the book is a notable downgrade from David Lopez. Takara nails the more upbeat tone that the book is going for, he has skill when it comes to pacing jokes both in set up and delivery. His characters are highly expressive, which is always a favorite of mine, and he sells full-page spreads. The two that appear in this issue are done very well, conveying the immense size of their subjects. However there are times where backgrounds could use more detail beyond a few rectangles and for whatever reason Gabby’s eyes unsettling in how giant they are.
Jordan Boyd is the series colorist who does an admirable job, even if he often makes things too bright of gives panels a weird overly brown tone for the opening prologue.
I apologize for coming off a bit mean on the artists as I’ve diverted more attention to the what seems to be the series direction, simply put I’m not a fan of where All-New Wolverine appears to be going. The creative team has enough good work on their hands to make concerns minimal, but this new issue lacks the weight of earlier entries. The “Road to Civil War II” banner doesn’t help things either. I hope this book is an engaging ride but if All-New Wolverine plans to become like many of Marvel’s other books that are made carefree for what seems to be the only way to get new readers, I might have to drop it and I honestly don’t want to do that.