“Enemy of the State II” has delivered a quality story that has furthered the growth of Laura Kinney as she comes into her own as Wolverine. Unfortunately for her, that time as Wolverine has hit a major wall as her old life as X-23 is roaring back as Kimura has come back bring back her most nightmarish moments. As things have were left off in the previous issue of All-New Wolverine, it looks like we are going to reminded of the killer assassin side of Laura’s character. Will this transformation back to her previous self be permanent? Or can Gabby somehow help save Laura? Let’s find out with All-New Wolverine #16.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Nik Virella
Colorist: Michael Garland
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Kimura put Laura Kinney into the Weapon X tank to remind her of what she was created to be as X-23.
After sometime being implanted with these memories Kimura takes Laura out of the tank. Kimura takes off the helmet from Laura and reminds her that she is her bullet to fire as a weapon whenever she wants.
Kimura then shows Laura her first target will be Tyger Tiger (Jessan Hoan). Laura wonders how long Kimura had she planned on doing all of this.
Kimura has Bellona bring Laura to a window to look out to see Madripoor. Kimura explains that Madripoor will be where her empire is born and only Tyger Tiger stands in the way of that dream.
On the SS Yost pirate ship, which is head to California and has been at sea for half a day since leaving Madripoor, a crewmate asks Roughhouse how the kids are doing. Roughhouse says the kids are in his protection. The guy starts to get on Roughhouse nerves and Roughhouse quickly throws him off the boat.
Inside the cargo hold Gabby assures the kids that Bellona hired Roughhouse to protect them. She goes on to say she can’t stay there as she needs to free her pet wolverine and get back to Madripoor. Gabby asks the kids for help. The kids all agree to help.
A little later Roughhouse hears a scream coming from inside the cargo hold. The kids tell Roughhouse that Gabby is hurt. Roughhouse takes Gabby to the infirmary, just as she and the kids planned.
Back at Kimura’s headquarters in Madripoor, Kimura explains that while she has control of most of the gangs and police Tyger Tiger has more than she does. She goes on to say that Tyger Tiger is trying to do away with the black market and make Madripoor a legitimate island nation.
Kimura then reveals that two weeks ago she tried to kill Tyger Tiger but was only able to injure her. Because of that attempt Tyger Tiger has been double checking everything but her people aren’t able to detect the Trigger Scent Kimura planted in her blood.
Laura says Kimura can’t break her to become her killer again. Kimura says Laura will and reveals she knows the location of her aunt and cousin, Deborah and Megan Kinney, are hiding. She goes on to says she could’ve killed Laura’s family a while ago but they are more valuable alive to use against Laura.
Kimura then has Bellona put Laura back into the Weapon X tank to transform her back into who she was before as X-23. As Kimura begins the process on Laura, she mentions that Laura could be in the tank for one day or weeks. She then says she’ll release Laura when she is very angry and says “Goodbye, X-23.”
In the SS Yost infirmary the nurse sees Gabby’s bone claw and thinks she is hurt. Gabby reveals she is a mutant and convinces the nurse that her claw is poisonous. Gabby then tells the nurse and one of the patients that they will tell her where her pet wolverine is and then she will leave with a satellite phone and her wolverine on a life raft. Frightened, the nurse agrees to Gabby’s demands.
One week later, in Madripoor a helicopter is delivering the tank with Laura in it to the building Tyger Tiger is in. The helicopter releases the tank and it smashes into one of the offices in the building.
Laura escapes from the tank in full rage mode. Kimura tells the enraged Laura that Tyger Tiger is nearby and she can find her by smelling where the Trigger Scent is.
In her office, some of Tyger Tiger’s security guards tell her that an assassin has broken into the building. The security guards start to take Tyger Tiger to a safe location. Before they are able to get there Laura finds them and quickly takes out the guards. Laura then slices off Tyger Tiger’s head.
The real Tyger Tiger comes out of her office, revealing that the one Laura killed was a robot copy.
As Laura goes after the real Tyger Tiger Gabby tackles Laura. Gabby is able to wrestle Laura to the ground though she continues to struggle.
Gabby tells Laura that was going to happen what’s about to happen will hurt Laura more than it’ll hurt her.
Gambit suddenly appears and throws one of his explosive cards at Laura. A huge explosion takes out the entire level of the building they are in. End of issue.
The Good: With each passing issue Tom Taylor has slowly built a greater sense of hate for everything that Kimura has done to Laura. All-New Wolverine #16 really hammers home how much we should hate her and see Kimura as a dangerous threat to the Marvel Universe at large. The information we learn about what Kimura has been up clears up some questions about the character and the purpose for her current strike.
One of the big things that Taylor clarifies for us is why Kimura has chosen this time to return and disrupt the life Laura has been building as Wolverine. What makes this clarification come off better than your typical villainous rant is that it is multi-layered. Because not only does Kimura see Laura as the weapon she must use to take over Madripoor but she needed to find that weak spot in order to get Laura on her side.
Bringing Deborah and Megan Kinney, two of the most important people in Laura’s life, back into the fold makes how much we hate Kimura even greater. Through revealing this information that Kimura has on Laura, Taylor is treating his readers as those that can understand how important this is to the story. There is no need to re-tell the origin story. Even if you’re a new fan, Taylor has given us enough information that it is easy to get the full picture of why they are important to Laura.
This in turn makes Kimura’s confidence in being able to re-train Laura back to her X-23 assassin form even more. Through that confidence that Kimura shows you are able to understand why Laura in this moment would feel hopeless and not fight back in being put back into the tank. And through everything we learned we have an even greater reason to look forward to the day that Laura is able to fight Kimura alone.
As all of this is going on between Kimura and Laura it was good to see other characters also getting some attention in this issue. Gabby in particular got to show off how independent of a character she has become. Getting her away from Laura’s protection allowed Taylor to show us how truly resourceful she is. At the same time, we are able to see that while Gabby is extremely resourceful with how she escaped SS Yost, she still has a lot to learn when it comes to being on Laura’s level of intimidation.
And while she was more of a silent figure throughout All-New Wolverine #16, it was interesting to learn that Bellona hired Roughhouse to protect Gabby and the kids. This small detail adds some depth to Bellona’s character, who hasn’t had much to do in “Enemy of the State II” just yet. But with this level of protection she feels for Gabby it makes you wonder what Taylor will end up having Bellona do in this story arc.
Bringing Gambit into “Enemy of the State II” was an interesting choice. He isn’t a character that I think about as a close since we haven’t seen them interact often in recent years. At the same time it was a great choice to bring in Gambit since he is one of the first X-Men to accept Laura, even before Logan did. Hopefully that history between Laura and Gambit is something Taylor explains as it would be good to have him back in Laura’s life since Logan isn’t around anymore.
Nik Virella once again delivers a great looking comic book. Virella gets across how much rage Laura has once Kimura transformed her back into her X-23 assassin persona. Seeing her kill all of Tyger Tiger’s guards and her robot copy so quickly was a big reminder of how effective of a killer she once was. It goes to show us how much Laura has grown since joining the X-Men and becoming Wolverine. While there weren’t any spread pages in this issue, Virella was able to show how she is able to deliver on big moments such as Gambit blowing up a whole level of a building as the issue came to a close.
The Bad: The minor gripe I had against All-New Wolverine #16 was that we didn’t get a lot of seeing the process Kimura put Laura through. It would have added to how torturing the process was if we got a brief glimpse into Laura’s head to get a better idea of what she was going through. Seeing what Laura was going through would have added to how sympathetic we feel for her.
Overall: All-New Wolverine #16 continues to push “Enemy of the State II” forward with positive momentum. Tom Taylor and Nik Virella delivered a chapter that elevated how dangerous Kimura is and could potentially be if her plan to take over Madripoor is successful. Kimura’s plot gave us an even greater reason to look forward to when Laura is able to take her down in a fight. Introducing Gambit into the story provides an interesting wild card into the situation that should make things even more exciting moving forward.