WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #2 by Kelly Thompson, Matt Rosenberg, Ed Brisson, R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, and Rachelle Rosenberg, on sale now!
Laura Kinney is Wolverine. It’s as simple as that. Now, she isn’t the only Wolverine running around in the Marvel Universe, but of all the other clawed offspring and alternate versions of the recently-resurrected James “Logan” Howlett, Laura is the most worthy successor to her genetic father’s moniker.
Over the course of almost three years and 35 issues of All-New Wolverine, the young clawed heroine lived up to what that classic yellow and blue costume meant to so many fans, not to mention several superheroes who populate the comic landscape. And while we’re glad to see the first man to don the costume return, it doesn’t mean Laura should be without his namesake. Sadly, however, that is exactly what has happened.
In X-23 #3, by Mariko Tamaki and Juann Cabel, Laura explained the reason why she dropped the name Wolverine and returned to the code name of the experiment which created her, stating that adopting the dehumanizing name she had hated so long would act as a poetic calling card when she enacts revenge on the monsters who manipulated and abused her. To be fair, from a narrative standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. Doing something you hate to throw an abundant amount of shade toward those who had wronged you is a very Wolverine thing to do.
But is this name switch really fair in the grand scheme of things? We don’t mean within the narrative of X-Men comics, but more in the macro level. Certainly Laura taking up the name Wolverine after Logan “died” worked in both instances, but the inverse seems a bit unbalanced. It feels as though Laura was nothing more than a babysitter for the name, and now that dad’s home, all responsibility has been deferred. It's a troubling situation that's highlighted in Uncanny X-Men #2, where Jean Grey references Laura by her original code name after slicing her way out of a Tyrannosaurs Rex’s belly... which was one of the most Wolverine moments Laura has ever displayed as a member of the X-Men.
With Logan back, it's only a matter of time before he returns to the X-Men, and we know how confusing it would be to have a team leader call two people by the same code name. And while that situation would lead to a few chuckle-worthy "Who's on First?" moments, it would certainly grate on the readers' patience as well as the team. When both Laura and Logan were in X-Force together they referred to themselves as X-23 and Wolverine, respectively (of course, this was before Laura ever took up her father's name). But just because a team is too small for two Wolverines doesn't mean the Marvel Universe is.
We have a couple of Spider-Men and Hawekeyes, and not just in terms of power sets, but in actually monikers, operating in the universe, and things have seemed to work out fine. In fact, if Marvel decided to rebrand Miles Morales or Kate Bishop's characters, there might be a riot. The idea that one specific character is more deserving of a title over someone else is silly. Sure there is value in creating a sense of legacy and passing the mantle, but it doesn't mean characters who have paid their dues and earned the prestige certain monikers carry with them should be pushed to the sideline or stripped of their titles. Superhero names mean something. Laura Kinney is Wolverine. Yes, she is a Wolverine. But does there really need to be the Wolverine?
With Laura as a member of the expansive roster in the pages of Uncanny X-Men and the more laser focused team of brilliant series X-Men: Red, there's no reason she can't assume the name Wolverine in at least one series, especially considering we still don't really know what the hell is going on with Logan at the moment. Certainly, there is some grand design at play here, one where we will not fully see until its end game arrives presumably in 2019, but in the meantime, Laura Kinney is the (not the) Wolverine we want to see hold her father's position. And when Logan does make is eventual return to the pages of Uncanny X-Men, then Laura could easily continue being the other Wolverine on a different team. After all, she deserves it.