Legacy, Family, and Ninjas in 'Marvel Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine #1'
This comic is worth its weight in dead undead ninjas.
The concept of family and legacy tends to get obscure in the Marvel universe. That's to be expected when there are so many clones, time travelers, and shape-shifting aliens running around. On paper, the idea of a child carrying on the legacy of a parent seems like the most logical and appropriate thing in the world. In the pages of Marvel comics, however, that's just not enough. There has to be some sort of elaborate, convoluted story behind it that only ends up getting retconned in the end.
While this hinders and dissuades most children from carrying on their parents' legacy, Laura Kinney finds a way navigate these excessive convolutions. She manages to don her father's title after his death in Death of Wolverine and, by nearly every measure, she honors that title as well as anyone could expect her to. It doesn't feel forced. It doesn't feel like a gimmick. It comes off as a young woman wanting to honor her father.
Batman may have a monopoly of sorts on drawing inspiration from dead parents, but Laura sets herself apart by being her own character long before she put on yellow spandex. She spends time learning from Logan and being his daughter so that when the time eventually comes, her acceptance of the role carries the right amount of weight.
With the conclusion of Secret War, Tom Taylor establishes Laura as having graduated from her journey as X-23. Now, she is Wolverine. She proudly wears the uniform and bears the title of her father. She even manages to pick up a little sister and a pet wolverine along the way. How can any father not be proud of that?
With Generations: Wolverine and All-New Wolverine #1, Laura gets a chance to find out just how well she's honoring her father's legacy and from the best possible source. As with previous iterations of Marvel Generations, Laura finds herself dropped right in the middle of a major moment in Logan's history. Also like previous iterations, there's little explanation or context given to that moment. However, there doesn't really have to be. She's suddenly fighting alongside her father against an army of undead ninjas. There's no need for context. She just does her father proud and starts stabbing.
It's a familiar but still immensely satisfying setup. Wolverine from two different eras come together and fight undead ninjas. Like the Hulk smashing or Deadpool breaking the fourth wall, it's one of those classic Marvel elements that never gets old. Laura's presence, however, adds a new dimension to the mix and this is where Taylor uses the setup of Marvel Generations to do something special for both Wolverines beyond undead ninja stabbing.
The situation already has some dramatic underpinnings in that it's ripped right from the pages of Chris Claremont's run on Wolverine. Fittingly enough for Laura, the situation involves family, namely the adopted daughter, Akiko, that he and Mariko took in. As often happens with Wolverine and anyone he's involved with, ninjas attack and he has to rescue her. It's as familiar to him as a bar fight, but Laura's presence adds something unique to it.
The events of that story are already set in that they establish that Logan can be part of a family and fight for it. What Laura does, though, goes beyond simply giving the ninjas another target. She comes into the conflict already knowing how it plays out to some extent. She doesn't just stand by and watch, though. That's not her style. That's certainly not Wolverine's style, either. When there are ninjas to be stabbed, Wolverine gets to stabbing. No amount of time paradoxes can stop that.
It's in between the stabbing, though, where Generations: Wolverine and All-New Wolverine #1 really expands on the drama. Taylor takes a somewhat different approach compared to other aspects of Marvel Generations in that much of the narrative unfolds from Logan's perspective. It's his thoughts and feelings that guide the story. While he doesn't radically alter the story that Claremont told decades ago, Laura's presence adds a unique dynamic to the mix.
By offering insight into Logan's thoughts and feelings, Taylor reveals a man who has a conflicted understanding of family. While he will go out of his way to save loved ones, he still sees himself as a loner. That's somewhat understandable. Being in his family means an exponential increase in the likelihood of ninja attacks. Unlike Akiko, though, Laura can handle it and handle it well. Even Logan acknowledges that early on.
By fighting alongside her, he sees first-hand that it is possible to be part of a family. It is possible to have someone in his life who can handle the occasional ninja attack. Laura doesn't just prove it. She goes out of her way to belabor that point, encouraging Logan to be part of a family. She knows that he will go on to welcome her into his family and guide her into eventually taking on the title of Wolverine.
It sets up for a powerful moment between the two Wolverines. It's a moment heavy on family drama, the kind that is often a precursor to tragedy in Logan's life. However, with Generations: Wolverine and All-New Wolverine #1, that legacy of tragedy is secondary. For once, he and Laura can just appreciate the fact that they're part of a family and that family now has a legacy. It's the kind of moment that really adds a powerful, emotional link between two eras of Wolverine.
That moment is what makes Generations: Wolverine and All-New Wolverine #1 worth its weight in dead undead ninjas. It's a moment that takes time to develop. For much of the story, though, the ninja fighting subverts the drama. It's still wildly entertaining and Ramon Rosanas' art makes it as visually appealing as it needs to be. When the drama finally does come, it has just the right impact. It's brief but powerful.
More than anything else, Generations: Wolverine and All-New Wolverine #1 establishes that the legacy of Wolverine isn't just measured by mountains of dead ninjas. It's part of a legacy. Logan establishes that legacy. Laura carries it on. Being Wolverine is basically a family affair, albeit with a lot more stabbing and ninja attacks, and it's a family that Wolverine fans of every generation can root for.