|ALL-NEW WOLVERINE No. 4, March 2016|
Containing a somewhat surprisingly ‘out of place’ guest star appearance by Doctor Stephen Strange, this particular edition of “All-New Wolverine” undoubtedly provides something of a bizarre, albeit amusing, twist to Tom Taylor’s multi-issue depiction of Laura Kinney obsessively defending her clones from the questionable intentions of Alchemax Genetics’ security force. For having established a rather seriously-themed morally-fraught undertone to his lengthy story-arc concerning genetic experimentation, murder and Machiavellian manipulation, the Melbourne-born writer suddenly (and arguably inexplicably) transports X-23, Gabby, Zelda and Bellona into a fantastical adventure featuring a winking wardrobe, “a doorway to horrors” and an enormous gruesome-looking extra-dimensional monster.
Admittedly this somewhat tongue-in-cheek tale is initially fun to read, and doubtless many of this comic’s 49,978 owners in January 2016 enjoyed the presence of an axe-wielding Sorcerer Supreme who seems far more a man of action than his creator Steve Ditko ever envisaged. But “the primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats” seems a rather unlikely bedfellow to so ferocious a living weapon as the Facility’s former assassin, and as such this team-up sadly smacks more of a desire to pair the titular character with one of the publisher’s more recognisably sellable heroes than anything which the comic’s ongoing narrative requires.
Blatant marketing concerns aside however, Doctor Strange’s involvement in Kinney’s search for a cure as to Zelda’s terminal condition does provide Wolverine with some ‘stand out’ moments, not least of which is her burying the Defender’s double-edged weapon into the skull of a huge Lovecraftian-inspired horror before it manages to eat several innocent bystanders stood outside the Sanctum Sanctorum. Indeed the entire plot darkens quite perceptibly when it becomes clear that the “Sorcerer Brain Surgeon” is unable to halt the “nanite technology” killing Gabby’s sister and he realises that his patient “is beyond my magic. And beyond my medicine.”
Slightly more upbeat is the quality of David Lopez and David Navarrot’s artwork, with the Spanish illustrator’s rendering of the Ancient One’s protégé proving especially impressive and well-drawn. Disappointingly though the same cannot be said for the creative team’s pencilling of Laura’s "not sisters" and it is little wonder that the sketcher has to “argue a lot about what shot works best and what’s the best way to show something or what’s the most important emotion we want to transmit in a specific panel” with their Assistant Editor, when his figures’ faces appear so amateurish.
|The "Deadpool" variant cover art of "ALL-NEW WOLVERINE" No. 4 by Tom Raney|