All-New Wolverine #32
Story: Tom Taylor
Art: Djibril Morissette-Phan
Colors: Nolan Woodard
All-New Wolverine #32 is the one-shot follow up to the Orphans of X arc that ended back in ANW #30. After some digging, Laura finds the man who is responsible for so much pain in both hers and Amber Griffin’s lives. The duo set out to Vanuatu to get some well deserved revenge.
*** WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD ***
This issue starts with a really powerful comparison flashback, in which we see both Laura’s and Amber’s perspectives of what happened the day Amber’s dad died. On one side, we get to see Amber and her dad, Ryan, in a typical suburban neighborhood both nervous about their respective first days. On the other side, we get Laura waking up on a metal bench in her cell, being escorted by armed guards and the directors of Weapon X, telling her what she has to do in order to show off in front of bidders. It shows two very different childhoods, but ones that were destined to intertwine.
These pages are such a great way to start the issue, because Tom Taylor does a great job of bringing to life the stark differences in how they grew up. Amber, a young girl nervous about her first day at school, is being comforted by her dad. There is a conversation between the two where Amber’s apprehension is being heard and acknowledged while her father mirrors her nerves, with his own for his first day at his new job. While Laura doesn’t say a word in these pages. Just men with guns talking about her, and what she is to do. But, the real reason these pages stand out is the artwork and colors from Djibril Morissette-Phan and Nolan Woodard respectively. Woodard’s color choices here are perfect. Amber’s life is full of warmth and love, even with the anxiety of a new school. These panels are full of light. Morissette-Phan artwork gives us that loving feeling with a father-daughter piggy back ride, Amber’s smile as daddy wakes her up, even Amber’s nervous expression while facing her class is full of light and optimism. But with Laura, everything is cold. Woodard uses blues and grays to show the lack of actual light in the compound (and in Laura’s life). There is no love.
As these pages go on, the warmth of color uses for Amber begins to dull as she is pulled into the office with news that her father was killed by an assassin whose target was the presidential candidate he was meant to protect. The cool blues and grays of Laura’s day are broken up with shades of red as she is triggered and slaughters the room. This juxtaposition of color carries through to present day, when we see grown up Laura at Amber’s door. Laura is standing in the dreary night, being rained on, while Amber is in the warmth of her home; living the life she built for herself in spite of the tragedy she went through as a girl.
Laura tells Amber that she did some digging after questioning how a hit on a presidential candidate could be just a “demonstration to bidders”, like she was told. She finds that former Big Tabaco Lobbyist (and secret Neo-Nazi) Chad Newman is responsible for the hit and is hiding out at his resort on the island of Vanuatu, which does not extradite. Amber tells Laura that she is coming with, and there is a really great moment between the two. Laura briefly tries to appeal to Amber’s rational side when she asks if Amber plans to kill Newman. Laura brings up that there may be a form of revenge much sweeter than simply an eye for an eye, but at the same time, she wouldn’t blame her (or try to stop Amber) if she tried to kill him. Amber agrees that she won’t kill him, but he deserves pain, and Laura tells her to bring her “Nazi-Stomping boots” (always a very exciting line read in a comic… or you know… in real life).
Once on the island, we see a version of Laura we rarely get to see: vacation Laura (complete with terrible Hawaiian shirt). We also see Amber’s willingness to work with the woman that killed her father and brought her into the support group turned militant, The Orphans of X. At the end of that arc, Laura took a lot of punishment and left it to the Orphans to either kill her or let her help them get the peace they deserve. Sutton wasn’t as on board (he left Amber’s house when he learned Laura was coming), but Amber wants to believe. The horrors Laura had to face as a child are truly terrible, but she is still the little girl that took her father, so while Amber sees good in Laura, she still needs to keep her at arm’s length.
It doesn’t take long for Newman to bring Amber and Laura to him (camera’s EVERYWHERE… because he is a disgusting human being). We get more of Amber’s personality in this issue as she is abducted at the bar. She is one to put up a fight, but her interactions with the bartender before and after she is attacked is a lot of fun. We also get more of Newman, and wow can Taylor make a truly unlikeable character. Even as Amber is telling him of her dead dad, he can’t help but be petty, arrogant, scum bag that is quick to tell her that her dad was a nobody. Laura burst through the wall (looking pretty feral and ready for murder) and chaos erupts. It is a satisfying fight to see Amber and Laura go to work laying out Newman and his bodyguards.
Speaking of satisfying, the final pages of this issue are exactly that. Laura throws the suitcase, containing a bound and gagged Newman, aboard a boat ready to take them out to international waters. While Laura drives the boat, she looks back to see Amber putting on her “Nazi-Stomping boots” (yes, she has some!). At this point, Laura has proven enough to Amber for Amber to believe that Laura wants to do good and make up for the sins of her past. Amber hands Laura one of her boots, and asks her to join in a stomp. When the suitcase opens, we see from Newman’s perspective, the younger versions of Laura and Amber standing over him getting their payback. It is such a satisfying panel! One that I couldn’t stop looking at it for almost 10 mins (no exaggeration… well maybe a little) and have shown everyone who will pay attention to me for more than 5 mins.
This issue was such a great button on the Orphans of X arc. From beginning to end, I was completely locked in on the artwork. Every color choice by Woodard was deliberate and brought a level of emotion to each panel. The range of artwork Morissette-Phan flexes by going from a loving suburban family, to a human weapon’s lab, to an island resort, while also showing off a wide range emotions in Amber and Laura was incredible. And, of course, Tom Taylor’s in-depth and full story telling makes this one of my favorite issues of the All-New Wolverine title. In the next issue, we get a look at Old Woman Laura!