Past, present, and future collide for Laura Kinney and her young charge in All-New Wolverine Vol. 6: Old Woman Laura. Collecting issues #31-35, this trade volume brings readers on three wild adventures, starting with Gabby’s infiltration of her pet Wolverine’s genetic animal testing facility. The story then shifts to the “Orphans of X” arc, where Laura must confront her actions of the past in order to make amends in the present. Finally, writer Tom Taylor takes All-New Wolverine into the near future, where the Queen of Madripoor, Laura Kinney, is fighting her very last enemy: Doctor Doom.
This trade does include two issues that aren’t a part of the Old Woman Laura arc, but for the most part, this volume is about the future. Or, at least a version of it. Taylor imagines a utopian society, where superheroes have finally won every battle…except for one. Doom still has numerous heroes in his prison, including Laura’s “sister” Bellona. Laura’s dying wish is to rescue her before it’s too late.
The Old Woman Laura team of Tom Taylor and Ramon Rosanas release a tidal wave of creativity in this volume that rivals anything seen in past issues of All-New Wolverine. Taylor’s reimagined version of Madripoor pulls readers into a completely new world, untrodden by past series. We get to see a weathered but resilient version of Laura who’s both so different than the claw-wielding Wolverine we know yet also so similar. Gabby is married with children of her own and is now the new Wolverine. Rosanas’ redesigns for Gabby and Laura unite the future with the past by including elements from their earlier costumes while still remaining true to their futuristic environment. Old Woman Laura is partly a successful volume and arc because it gives readers something entirely new to consider.
The other reason Old Woman Laura is successful is because it offers a sense of hope. All-New Wolverine #35 is the last issue in the series, so Taylor had to wrap everything up somehow. Most series give one dramatic final arc and a tearful goodbye but Taylor gives us something better. By offering a glimpse into a possible future, Taylor reminds us that Laura and Gabby’s story is far from being over. All of the adventures and battles in between All-New Wolverine #32 and #33 still need to be written. The end of All-New Wolverine isn’t sad like most series conclusions are. It’s hopeful. It gives us something to look forward to.
At the same time, this final volume does feel complete. Taylor bringing back Bellona, who was introduced in the first few issues of All-New Wolverine, ties up loose ends. Gabby is old enough to take over the mantle of Wolverine, which means Laura’s time is up. By the final issues of the volume, it becomes clear that, for the time being, this is the end. But, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
My only real complaint about this volume is what it includes. The trade is called Old Woman Laura yet it includes two issues that don’t have anything to do with the Old Woman Laura arc. All-New Wolverine #31 is fun and enjoyable, but it completely deviates from the serious mood throughout the rest of the volume. Similarly, All-New Wolverine #32 deals with characters and storylines from past issues in the series that aren’t covered in issues #33-35. I like these issues, and I think they have a place in a trade, just not in this one.
Instead, I would’ve liked to see Taylor add two more issues to the Old Woman Laura arc. Already, the arc feels a little hurried and could definitely benefit from more exposition. Taylor creates a captivating world, but he only gives three issues to explain it all. With more panel time, he could create something really special. Were Taylor to expand exponentially on the world he created in Old Woman Laura, he could create a whole new series. From the metaphorical ashes of All-New Wolverine could come something new.
If that’s not what a series conclusion is supposed to give us, I don’t know what is.