All-New Wolverine #26 had me questioning it for a hot second, but it quickly won me around through some solid feels.
Last issue, there was a studious lesson on Daken, Murumasa, and their secret, shielded history. There was also a weirdly silent Jonathan, some outstanding colour work from Nolan Woodard, and… Laura's mother! Dun dun DUN…
Well, this month continues Daken's current predicament, goes in to (a little) what Sarah (mum) experienced, gives some mother/daughter times, and provides a slightly odd-looking Gabby.
Juann Cabal and Woodard's excellent thematic work continues here. We don't get the orange-tinted past (last issue's amazing flashbacks in windows) of Laura here, but instead Daken's imprisonment in dark, staccato 12-panel pages. These dim green (and yellow?)-tinted horror boxes contrast to the bold, happy colouring of Megan and Debbie's house in deepest American suburbia. The definition of safe. Obviously these gradually collide, which does even more to enforce upon you that when there is a tinge of citrus to the otherwise normal colouring, evil is afoot. See the below preview pages:
I will admit, though, that I was initially a bit thrown by Cabal's pencils. This is particularly apparent in the work on Gabby's face on the fifth story page, which actually completely took me out of the story. Luckily, we were two pages from one of the finest pieces of face work in the past month. Plus, this was straight after Laura's mum's coffee-imbued retelling of what she remembered from the artificial hibernation. Luckily these good and bad parts were all in the preview images Marvel released, so we were prepared.
It does move graciously, though. Your perception of motion through the imagery is faultless, and there's a glorious dog toss amongst the melee. Anyway, as I say, for that mother/daughter relation alone, this issue is praiseworthy overall.
The talking section (a nice, calm, brightly coloured suburbia, where all is lovely) are capably bringing us up to speed on everything that I suppose we need to know for the next issue. Tom Taylor's exposition is being done whilst Daken is providing all the Wolverine that we need from the issue, as he tries to escape Eli Roth's homestead. It's a strange duality of the storytelling here that I've come around to thinking as good.
I make no secret of my disdain for obvious exposition. It's clunky, hurts character development, and is often just painful. But you have to sit through them, because you know that if they're there, this is the only place they'll be instead of naturally sprinkled throughout. Or, god forbid, even trusting your audience to fill in blanks. Here, it's frequently a few of those things. It's pretty obvious stuff, but there are those moments where the exposition is "cockblocked" by those heavy feels peppered throughout that stop you staring at the crash. These provide enough personal drama to distract you for long enough until the punching (stabbing) starts again. It does just end up as a Daken comic, with some Laura talking head bits for context, though.
One aside that has interested me on this run is how accepted Laura is by the public and the authorities. There's very little mutant disdain, and (actually) the authorities straight-up respect Laura. I'm left wondering, though, if this will ever come in to focus (in a good way; i.e. not pointless drama via loss of that respect) at some future juncture.
This book has made me realise that I'm perceiving a definite balance in what's good and bad in the X books. By and large, the team books are really not engaging (they need something, but I don't know what — happy to discuss in the comments) with the exception of Weapon X. I just can't think of a single solo X-title that isn't currently super engaging, dramatic, and well realised in and of itself. I think that this bodes well overall for the X line, but the traditional hitters really aren't punching well of late.
All-New Wolverine has been a solid run so far, and this does nothing to dissuade that this particular Marvel Legacy is in fine hands with Laura.