If you told a comic book reader 20 years ago that Wolverine would be replaced by a young female clone of himself, they’d have likely laughed in your face or screamed a series of incoherent obscenities about clones ruining the Marvel Universe (the Spider-Man “Clone Saga” was a confusing time for everyone). Laura Kinney’s introduction into the world of the X-Men, first via writer Craig Kyle in the animated X-Men: Evolution, and then in 2004’s X-23: Innocence Lost, set the stage for an unexpected successor to the legacy of Logan. Following 2014’s Death of Wolverine, the mantle of the X-Men’s preeminent clawed berserker held open auditions, with Laura rightfully earning the title over potential pretenders like Daken and Sabretooth.
In her capacity as X-23, Laura has proven her mettle as both X-Men and Avenger, and has more than lived up to the title of the Wolverine. As a matter of fact, Laura has been such a good Wolverine, and All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor and (initially) David Lopez has been such a good comic book, we would argue Laura has actually been a better Wolverine than Logan. Here’s why Laura Kinney deserves to be Marvel’s Wolverine for as long as she wants the job.
15. FOOT CLAWS. FOOT. CLAWS.
Wolverine’s claws are absolutely one of the most iconic superhero features of all time. Logan made such prominent use of the adamantium knives in his hands during Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s Uncanny X-Men (and beyond), that comics in the ’90s could barely keep up with the claw demand. From Azrael’s bat gauntlets in “Knightfall” to Doomsday’s boney fists in “Death of Superman“, Wolvy’s claws have been imitated, duplicated, and supersaturated.
When determining how to make Laura Kinney’s claws even cooler than the original Wolverine’s, creators Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle could have simply added more. Fortunately for all of us, rather than make Laura look like the world’s worst manicure job, X-23 was given the ingenious addition of a single deadly spear in her feet! This is an advantage the brawling Logan never had, and X-23 uses her skill and athleticism to great effect with these surprise daggers.
14. SHE STARS IN ONE OF MARVEL’S BEST COMICS
When’s the last time a Wolverine solo series was one of the best books published by Marvel Comics? You have to reach back before Marvel NOW! and to Jason Aaron’s Wolverine run. Meanwhile, All-New Wolverine has consistently been one of Marvel’s best products, during an undeniable downturn, with Tom Taylor, David Lopez, and various artists crafting a funny, touching, can’t miss Wolverine series.
Make no mistake, any legacy hero transition can end horribly, but All-New Wolverine has found the sweet spot to carry on the tradition and find new and exciting directions for Wolverine’s history. Plus, Laura taking over as Wolverine actually makes so much sense. Much like Wally West filling in as the Flash after the death of Barry Allen in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Laura taking on the role of Wolverine after Death of Wolverine is the perfect catalyst to instill her as a generation’s Wolvy.
13. SHE’S NOT ON EVERY TEAM
Wolverine’s team affiliations became so absurdly stacked in the early 2010’s that Brian Michael Bendis even poked fun at it in the New Avengers series (one of Wolverine’s… FOUR teams at the time!), with Wolverine quipping that multitasking is his secret mutant power. It’s a good joke but it also speaks to an overworked character, trying to carry off his snarling, grunting bad boy routine across far too many corners of the Marvel Universe.
As Wolverine, Laura is fortunately far less overused, allowing her to focus on one or two dilemmas at a time. It’s more appealing as a fan of Wolverine comics, and simply a more realistic sense of how many hours there are in a day. Plus, Laura has already spent time with the members of Avengers Academy and Avengers Arena, so it works much better to see her focus on actually being Marvel’s Wolverine.
12. LESS BAGGAGE
Laura Kinney has lived an extremely difficult life. She was bred in a confined prison by morally bankrupt mad scientists, tortured regularly, and forced to kill as an unwilling brainwashed assassin. Worse still, her creators developed a trigger scent to send her into a feral rage, which they then used to make her kill her sensei and mother, and nearly kill her surrogate mother and sister! Awful barely begins to describe it.
Yet somehow, all this pales in comparison to the literal centuries of baggage James Howlett carries around in his britches. The guy has fought in both World Wars, lost more love interests than James Bond, and been a headmaster of his own Jean Grey School For Mutants. Logan’s done it all! Meanwhile, when you really think about, the mere teenage Laura Kinney is just getting started.
11. MORE STRATEGIC
Throughout All-New Wolverine we’ve seen a number of occasions where Marvel heroes familiar with Logan are surprised by Laura’s more thoughtful approach to conflict. This is particularly clear in All-New Wolverine #5, when Laura teams up with Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp (after first trying to break in to Dr. Hank Pym’s lab and steal an Ant-Man suit).
Laura and the Wasp journey into the nanotech infested body of a dying clone “sister,” only to find that they are quite suddenly treated as antibodies under attack. Wasp observes that while Logan would have been hacking apart anything that moves, Laura thinks through the situation first and then comes up with a plan for effectively achieving success. Sure, her plan ultimately leads to hacking things apart, but that’s a pretty sound strategy when you’re the best there is at what you do.
10. DOCTOR STRANGE SAYS SO
Doctor Strange is far from the be all and end all when it comes to deciding the superior Wolverine, but the Sorcerer Supreme carries a unique perspective that should be taken into account. Laura enlists the good Doctor’s help in order to try and save her three “sisters,” AKA the clones of Laura that were bred to kill. Strange uses the eye of Agamotto to look deep into the X-23 clones souls and tells Laura that the sisters share many evil deeds she may not be willing to overlook.
Laura counters by telling Strange to look into her own past, and Strange is both shocked by what he learns and Laura’s ability to control her rage. Through his mentoring and her own resolve, Laura has already overcome many of the anger management issues that plagued Logan, and her dedication to extending these same lessons to the “sisters” is unstoppable.
9. FIRST MUTANT CAPTAIN UNIVERSE
While both Logan and Laura can lay claim to the Marvel Universe’s Wolverine, only Laura Kinney can claim to be accepted as the first mutant Captain Universe. In X-23 #14 by Marjorie Lie and Phil Noto, it’s revealed that Laura, Spider-Man, and Sue Storm are experiencing shared dreams because of their one-time connection to the Captain Universe Uni-Power (Sadly, this isn’t just dunking like Anthony Davis).
The heroes discover that the Enigma Force has returned to warn them of the coming King of the Whirldemons. Naturally, Laura and the FF make the most of the situation, but it’s fascinating seeing how readily she adapts to cosmic situations that seem well beyond the station of Wolverine. Being selected as a host for Captain Universe is a rare honor in the Marvel Universe, and Laura’s the only one among Wolverines who can make that boast.
8. SPENT TIME AT XAVIER’S
Despite his unquestionably strong ties to the school, Logan was never actually a student of Professor Xavier’s the way many X-Men grew up. This doesn’t prevent any mutant from becoming a great member of the X-Men, but it certainly limits some of the ties to the school. Logan never felt quite at home at the mansion, storming off or venturing out on personal vengeance quests every other weekend.
Yet again, Laura’s experience crosses this barrier, as she joined the school during New X-Men, in the “Innocence Lost” storyarc. Laura knows what it means to be a student at Xavier’s, and to experience both the isolation and bonding that come from being a teenage mutant outcast in an all mutant school. As such, Laura is a Wolverine with even deeper roots in the core of the X-Men, granting her an understanding even Logan, the one time headmaster, can’t match.
7. SHE HAS AN ACTUAL PET WOLVERINE
In the opening sequence of All-New Wolverine #7, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl walks into Laura and Gabby’s apartment (technically it’s just Laura’s, but let’s be real here) and brings a real live actual animal wolverine with her. When Laura questions why Squirrel Girl has brought the rabid animal to her apartment, the unbeatable Doreen Green replies she thought Wolverine could use an animal’s perspective on their mission.
This leads a flummoxed Laura to tell Squirrel Girl she can’t actually talk to wolverines. Nonetheless, Jonathan (that’s the animal wolverine) becomes a series regular, even going for regular walks with Laura and Gabby in the park. So yes, Laura definitely gets near infinite bonus points as the best Wolverine for taking a pet wolverine through Central Park.
6. SHE SAVES SQUIRRELS
If you ever go thinking Laura is too big for the little guy now that she’s Wolverine, just look back to All-New Wolverine #7 and her team-up with the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. In a very Kurt Busiek meets Ryan North plot point, Laura is confronted by Squirrel Girl with the fact that her violent car chase led to the immense harm and disruption of a squirrel family. In fact, an entire squirrel family was now missing a father!
Instead of growling, slugging a beer, and slamming a door in Ms. Green’s face, Laura’s Wolverine admits her part in the damage of this family (well, kind of) and helps Squirrel Girl and company locate the missing squirrel! You probably won’t see this one on the all-new Wolverine’s Avengers application, but it’s a great comic and a great look at why Laura is such a good fit for the modern Wolverine.
5. WOLVERINE WAS HER MENTOR
You know one thing Logan, AKA Patch, never had? An older version of himself to mentor him in the ways of the Wolverine. Sure, Logan eventually meets up with Professor Charles Xavier to provide some modern day wisdom and coaching, but very few people in Logan’s life could truly understand what it was like to experience the rage and torment he had lived.
Laura Kinney doesn’t have that issue since Wolverine has served as a father figure and mentor through most of her “free” life. Laura and Logan meet in X-23: Target X, and like most heroes, engage in a cathartic fight to the death that naturally ends with the elder Wolverine telling the then X-23 he’s sorry for what was done to her. It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship, and one that allows Laura to bring significantly advanced life lessons to the role of Wolverine.
4. SHE EARNED HER LEGACY
If 2017’s upcoming “Legacy” wasn’t enough of a giveaway, Marvel has made a large push since 2015’s Secret Wars to incorporate legacy characters across their entire lineup. This has led to all sorts of familiar costumes inhabited by new personas, from Captain America to Thor to Wolverine (to Hawkeye to Ant-Man to Falcon… the list goes on). It’s an understatement to say some of these legacies have more history than others, and we’d argue Laura Kinney has earned the title of Wolverine more than just about any other transitional Marvel hero.
For starters, Laura trained under the previous Wolverine, fighting alongside him with the X-Men and with X-Force. Equally important, Laura is Logan’s actual clone, meaning she carries the genetic traits necessary to fill the heroes’ role better than anyone else ever could. Her legacy was tied up in the role of Wolverine since her inception.
3. KICKED LOGAN’S OLD BUTT
In All-New Wolverine issues #8 through #12, Laura is drawn into conflict with the time displaced alternate reality Old Man Logan. Initially, Laura proves her worth as Wolverine by saving the Old Man, who is quite literally rotting in the belly of a sex-crazed Fin Fang Foom (some sentences are just better than others). Laura claws her way out with the shriveled Old Man Logan, before saving the day by covering herself in Fin Fang pheromone and jetpacking the creature away from civilization.
The relationship takes a darker turn, when Civil War II’s Ulysses predicts Old Man Logan will kill Gabby. After a series of self-fulfulling prophecies nearly bring this to pass, Laura tracks down Old Man Logan in the sewers and outfights him until Old Man Logan finally comes to his senses and pleads for Laura’s understanding.
2. SHE DOESN’T KILL
We tend to think of Logan as an all-time great hero, but the reality is his time as Wolverine found him taking a lot of lives, many times when other options were available. Laura has absolutely done her fair share of killing, and although the vast majority of it has been under the influence of outside controllers, as a member of X-Force, Laura often seemed more violent and uncontrollable than Logan.
As Wolverine, Laura is particularly adamant about no killing, and even demanding that her cloned “sisters” avoid killing as well. This is perhaps most clear in All-Wolverine Annual #1, when Laura has her consciousness switched into the body of Spider-Gwen. The duo confront their attacker, but rather than murderize her, Wolverine grants the “villain” a chance to explain, and may have found a new tech genius resource in their foe. It’s serious progress for the character of the Wolverine.
1. GENETICALLY ENGINEERED TO HEAL FASTER
Although Laura’s status as a Wolverine clone implies she has all the same mutant powers and abilities, the rebooted Weapon X project actually altered Laura’s DNA to include an accelerated healing factor. As a result, Laura is genetically engineered to rebuild her body and wounds faster than Logan was ever capable. The goal in creating X-23 was to create the perfect killing machine, and it would be strange to assume science hadn’t advanced since the classic Weapon X was formed in Canada all those years ago.
Laura’s superior healing factor makes her very specifically better than Logan at his most well known ability. We’ve seen Laura regrow an entire hand in mere minutes, and while Logan’s own healing factor has oscillated in extremes over the years, Laura will beat him every time.
Do you agree that Laura should stay in the Wolverine costume? Let us know in the comments!
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