Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: "What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?"
It's been a rough decade or so for X-Men fans. As part of Ike Perlmutter's feud with Fox over the Fantastic Four movie rights, Marvel's greatest franchise has suffered many an indignity. Cyclops turned into a villain by writers and editors with a Wolverine fetish. The worst crossover of all time, Avengers vs. X-Men. A serious attempt to replace mutants with the Inhumans, thankfully killed by the god-awful Inhumans TV show. Greg Land. But that's all over now (except for Land). With a Marvel/Fox deal on the horizon, the Fantastic Four can return, but more importantly, Marvel can give a crap about the X-Men again!
Each week, we aim to recap what happened in all of the X-books, make a few jokes, and struggle to survive the experience as we reckon our love for our favorite characters with what can often feel like a "quantity-over-quality" approach to comic booking.
Last week, we didn't have time to recap the X-books due to all the C2E2 news we had to cover, which means we've got to catch up. To do that, we've got to read and recap 13 — yes, 13 — X-books in one weekend. Is that even possible? We're about to find out!
ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #33
TOM TAYLOR (W) • RAMON ROSANAS (A)
Cover by DAVID LOPEZ
VENOM 30TH VARIANT COVER BY TBA
OLD WOMAN LAURA BEGINS!
In the not-too-distant future, the world is a utopia where heroes have succeeded in bringing peace worldwide. At the head of this utopia is none other than Laura Kinney, who's passed on her mantle of Wolverine and is living her best life as Madripoor's benevolent queen. But a long simmering evil will force Laura, out of retirement and back into the blue-and-yellow. This final journey will take everything Laura has to give….maybe even her life.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
The Old Woman Laura storyline kicks off this issue, ahead of All-New Wolverine's upcoming de-boot, which will see it replaced with an X-23 book to make room for the returning original Wolverine. Bleh!
This story takes place in Madripoor, "not so far in the future." It opens with "Wolverine" busting up an arms deal on a boat, but it isn't Laura; it's Gabby! A criminal blasts a hole in her chest, allowing her to X-ercise some X-pository dialogue and tell us her high-tech Wolverine suit is made of "Stark-grade graphene" and "Wakandan vibranium" before her body and the suit heal. Next, people get sliced up with Gabby's new light saber claws. Those are some sweet upgrades. Gabby gets a phone call from Laura while murdering criminals and makes plans to meet up for dinner.
Later, Gabby visits Laura in her office, and we learn that Laura is now the Queen of Madripoor. We learn that Gabby is married to someone named Taylor and they have two kids, Logan and Wade. Aw. Also, Laura tells Gabby that she's dying due to a breakdown in her genetic code, but the defect wasn't passed on to Gabby or her kids. Gabby is sad, but Laura is content because she's lived a good life and the heroes "won." Outside, we see what appears to be a utopia instead of the usually gritty mean streets of Madripoor.
But Laura's not done yet. Before she dies, she has one person she needs to kill, and one she needs to save. The latter is Laura's clone-sister, Bellona, but Laura and Gabby have been unable to find her thus far. Laura has a meeting tomorrow night that might have a promising lead.
Laura heads to Washington to DC to meet with the President of the United States, Kamala Khan.
President Khan explains that Bellona was in SHIELD custody until something called the Doom World War, which sounds legit as far as a Marvel super-mega-crossover event they'll probably do one of these days. Doom sucked SHIELD's flying prison through a portal, and Bellona has never been heard from since. It's a good enough lead for Laura, though. It just so happens she's going to Latveria anyway because Doom was the person she planned to kill earlier.
The Secret Service busts in wondering how a Wolverine got into the Oval Office. Maria Hill is with them, and she's the Chairwoman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She wants to go to Latveria with Laura and kill Doom too. They head back to Madripoor and torture some imprisoned criminals to find a way to sneak into Latveria, which is covered in a gigantic dome because in the future Hollywood has become so desperate that they've actually rebooted Under the Dome.
Before they can break in, however, Gabby reveals that maybe she's betrayed them. It's not totally clear, but we're going to have to find out what Gabby did next issue.
It's sad to see All-New Wolverine come to an end, but at least it's getting this book-end story to put an exclamation point on what's been a great run.