This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on April 8, 2017.
Laura Kinney (a.k.a. X-23 and Wolverine) has existed in comics for more than a decade now, but it has only been in the past few years that her star has risen to the A-list of Marvel Comics properties. In the wake of Death of Wolverine, she stepped into Logan’s blue and gold boots to become Marvel’s only Wolverine and has held that title since. She also made her big screen debut in the incredibly well received movie Logan where she managed to hold her own against favorites like Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. It has been an incredibly quick rise to stardom for the character.
That’s a good thing for fans of X-Men comics and movies alike too. Laura Kinney isn’t lucky to be where she is, we’re lucky to have her. If you’re reading All-New Wolverine or saw Logan already, then you probably already know why. However, if you’re unconvinced, we’re here to break it down for you. This is why Laura Kinney is the Wolverine we need today and why we hope she’ll stick around in the role for a long while to come.
Relaunching the X-Men
Let’s start with the X-Men at Marvel Comics. At their height there was no more popular group of characters in all of comics, but it has been awhile since the 90s and the X-Men franchise has seen better days. Starting this week the comics are getting a booster shot with 2 new leading team books (subtitled Blue and Gold), and are receiving a variety of other new launches. The X-Men’s greatest successes have always come from mixing up the formula, mutating what came before. Laura as Wolverine will be part of that strategy if this new launch is meant to stick.
Wolverine is undoubtedly the single most popular character to emerge from the X-Men franchise, but he’s also a character that has been around for a long time now and often at the center of stories. If the X-Men are meant to feel fresh again, then the old stories and norms need to be put aside. Having Laura popping claws offers some familiarity, but doesn’t force creators to repeat what has already been there. Instead we can have artists and writers focus on pushing the X-Men forward.
New Stories to Tell
Speaking of making the X-Men fresh, the same can be said of Wolverine as a brand. Logan’s story has been told so many ways that not even a careful reading of his Wikipedia page makes his history clear. This is a character that has been done to death and continuing to retread the same ground of his origins, connections to Japan, reluctant leader or mentor, or any other brand will feel like just that: a retread.
Laura’s stories are still fresh though. She has only just begun to establish herself as a real honest-to-goodness superhero. Springboarding from her troubled origins as detailed by creators like Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, Laura has started to grow and accept more responsibility. Now in the page of All-New Wolverine she has a compelling supporting cast and is just beginning to develop her own set of story tropes, villains, and other key elements. It should be a delight to continue watching Laura expand from Wolverine’s protege to a superhero in her own right.
It’s still astounding that in a film featuring both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, a young girl nobody had seen before still managed to steal almost every scene she was in. That’s exactly what happened in Logan though. Dafne Keen was enthralling as a feral child and her growth towards being a more emotionally complex and hopeful figure than her father was very well executed.
For Fox Studios the smart move is to find a way to keep Keen involved with the X-Men now that Jackman has left. Rather than attempting to recast the irreplaceable actor, they can build a new star from scratch and tell the stories of X-23 or Wolverine as part of a team or a solo character. While Logan may have been Jackman’s last outing, it’s clear that Keen ought to stick around for many years to come.
Logan is Resting in Peace
Of course there’s the issue that for fans of Logan in film and comics that he is still a beloved character. That should really be an argument for letting him stay dead though. We have bundles of top-notch Wolverine stories featuring brilliant artists and in a wide array of genres. Those aren’t going anywhere, while looking at the past decade it seems obvious that Logan was running out of steam in comics. Jackman is done with the X-Men franchise too, and there’s no use trying to find someone that can fill his shoes.
Death of Wolverine may not have been the character’s finest hour, but it gave him a chance to rest and it has worked out quite well. Without Wolverine in the Marvel Universe, fans still love the character and the stories have kept coming. For those who really need an itch scratched with 3 claws, there’s also the inclusion of Old Man Logan from an alternate reality. It’s time to keep Wolverine dead so we can appreciate his highlights and stop beating a regenerating horse.
Wolverine was always the cool guy in the X-Men from his joining the team in Giant Size X-Men #1. That’s true of Laura now too. Whether she’s palling around with the original team from an alternate timeline or diving into a crossover, Laura kicks butt and is always the toughest person in the room. Guys got their chance and now it’s a girl’s turn to show us all how it’s done.
It’s clear that Marvel Comics and superhero movies could use more women in leading roles, and this is one specific role that needs filled. The incredible violence, shocking depths of character, and versatility of Wolverine forms one of the best mantle in all of Marvel Comics. That’s a mantle Laura Kinney is clearly well-prepared to hold. We owe it to Laura and to ourselves to check out her stories and see where they go. She’s every bit as tough, cool, and interesting as Logan, but her tale has only just begun.