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Mar 14

All-New Wolverine #31 – “Honey Badger & Deadpool”

Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

This is timely.  Not because issue #32 came out today, but because Marvel announced today that we’re coming to the end of Tom Taylor’s run as writer.  Mariko Tamaki is next in line, and in July, you guessed it, it’s issue #1… of X-23.

X-23.  I am sighing deeply.  Pause here and imagine the sigh.  Of course, it was entirely obvious that the original Wolverine would show up at some point and reclaim the name, because that’s what always happens.  Fair enough.  In fact, it always struck me that one of the problems with Marvel simultaneously replacing Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Iron Man and so forth was that, in the way of these things, the reset button was also going to come about pretty much simultaneously for all of them and, well, that was maybe not going to be such a good look.  But so be it.

The thing is, going back to “X-23” feels like a mistake.  That was a perfectly good name for the original incarnation of the character, who was pretty much a straight “living weapon” type, and whose human personality was decidedly submerged.  Letters and numbers are fine for that.  It doesn’t fit her any more, and it doesn’t feel like a name she’d choose, though I expect the usual “I am owning my past” blather, given that they can’t really have her say “I am renewing my trade mark”.

Oh well.  In the meantime, this is a single-issue detour where Honey Badger discovers the laboratory where her pet wolverine Jonathan was experimented on, and does what any sensible underage maniac would do in the circumstances: she calls up Deadpool and asks if he fancies torching the place.  Normally in this book Gabby serves to undercut Laura’s seriousness, so pairing her with Deadpool is a rather different dynamic.  As it turns out, they’re pretty much on the same wavelength here.

Partly that’s because Deadpool is of a mood to play along with rescuing the animals rather than gratuitously slaughtering the staff, but mainly it’s because they’re both inveterate banterers with a questionable ethical compass.  So an issue of these two just exchanging dialogue while they do pretty much anything is delightful.  As it turns out, the bad guys are experimenting on reanimating the dead, which means our heroes get to fight some cute zombie bunnies.

Actually, to be honest, Marco Failla’s art doesn’t make them look quite as cute as the script seems to have had in mind.  But hey, Gabby and Wade have a ton of charm here, and the comedy beats land nicely – Gabby’s first attempt at chloroforming a guard, where she forgets to catch him, is rather well done.  So is a page of our heroes killing time while they wait for a zombie sloth to make it across the room.

There’s a rather weird pay-off in here, where it turns out that the mad scientist in charge is breeding zombie wolverines for pit fighting rather than sport, which seems a bit heavy handed even for a Honey Badger and Deadpool story.  I suspect it’s there simply to push matters to the point where you can have Gabby burn the place down for a cathartic finish without the story seeming too much like a radical animal rights screed – though you’ll note that Gabby does explicitly plan to burn the place down right from the start, so the main effect is really to give Laura a non-controversial reason to join in at the end.

Fun issue, though – and a nice break of tone, given that it comes after the six-part “Orphans of X”, and before a single-issue story picking up from that arc.  (We’ll come back to issue #32 another time…)  While All-New Wolverine is good at steering clear of excess grimness, that’s still a relatively dark story, and an issue of throwaway comedy seems like the right move here.

Bring on the comments

  1. mark coale says:

    I will miss this book, arguably a top 5/10 Marvel title.

  2. Moo says:

    Laura will always be Skunk Bear to me.

  3. Si says:

    Is it even possible to trademark “X-23”? I’d have thought it too generic a name.

  4. Paul says:

    I can’t see why not. Trademarks are tied to particular types of product, and “X-23” is not an everyday name for a comic.

  5. Pasquale says:

    Couldn’t agree more about changing her name back to X-23. Really lame. They should’ve just called it “X-23 All Rights Reserved Property of Alchemax”.

  6. jpw says:

    Just name all the books Wolverine #1. It’s not like there’s any discernable strategy anyway.

  7. Moo says:

    “Squirrel-Girl/Honey Badger: Nuts & Honey”

  8. Thom H. says:

    “Just name all the books Wolverine #1. It’s not like there’s any discernable strategy anyway.”

    Or just given them all letter-number combinations from X-1 to X-23. Makes them easier to alphabetize.

    Also, I want to thank Paul for the spate of new reviews recently. It’s such a pleasure to come to a long-running blog I enjoy and not only read great content, but also interact in a respectful comments section. Thanks for the break from the regular internet shouting match.

  9. Si says:

    I’m genuinely interested in this, and not being passive-aggressive, I swear.

    If I went to whatever the modern equivalent is to 90s Image and did a comic about a clone girl with fast healing and built-in knives, and called it X-24, would there be a legal case to be made against me?

    (excusing that the lawyers in this case would be Disney-powered and that nobody in their right mind would want to read my comic (even though my character is a bisexual with a raging libido and trouble keeping clothes over her frankly ridiculous chest))

  10. Moo says:

    Amusingly, DC’s Pantha (of the New Titans) who was created back in 1991 was designated X-24.

  11. Chris says:

    Disney Powered Lawyers!!!

  12. jpw says:

    Disney’s lawyers are ruthless. The Mouse jealously protects its IP. Don’t go there, it can only end badly for you.

  13. Si says:

    To be clear, I am by no means planning on actually making a horrible hypersexualised ripoff of X23. Or any other comic for that matter.

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