Summary: After the events of SECOND COMING and the stunning conclusion to X-FORCE, X-23 strikes out on her own in this all-new tale, by bestselling author Marjorie Liu and spinning out of the events of WOLVERING GOES TO HELL! X-23 has never been a normal teenager — but with a demonic Wolverine on the loose, her dreams of becoming that normal teen seem less possible than ever. When the images this imposter Wolverine has been filling her head with become real, who can she turn to? And where is the real Wolverine in all of this? Cast adrift, and hunted by those she once considered friends, X-23 is forced to confront the Devil himself to save her soul. But does she even have one? X-23’s questions about herself will lead her down a path more dangerous than any she’s ever encountered, one that ties directly into the past of another orphan: Remy Le Beau, a.k.a. Gambit! Collecting X-23 #1-6.
X-23, vol.1, by Marjorie Liu and Will Conrad 6.75
I had no idea until recently, but did you know that there is a female equivalent to Wolverine? There is: her name is Laura, and her moniker is X-23 – named after the fact that she was cloned from Wolvie’s X chromosome and that she was the 23rd embryo of a series of about 50. As far as I know, she is the only one to have survived and/or grown to maturity.
Fact is, the only reason I know this is because, after reading ‘Girl Comics‘, I sought out the art of Sana Takeda at my local library. They had very little of it, but the ‘X-23’ books came up in my search and I requested them immediately. Sadly, Takeda is only featured in a few moments throughout this collection, in particular during a dream/hallucination sequence.
Still, it was worth getting the book to familiarize myself with this character, who is now over a decade old. How out of touch I’ve been!
X-23 was cloned to be the perfect killing machine. The book hints at all sorts of horrid experiences that she has lived through even at this young age, including taking her mother’s life. She is now one of the many X-Men, and has worked in Cyclops’ X-Force crew, which was a black operations side-group of the X-Men. I know very little about X-Force, but I suspect that they weren’t all roses.
The back of the book provides a much more better overview and, thus, understanding of the character. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know that it is there until the reader is done with the book. That’s a real shame because it provided much insight and filled in the backstory relatively well – at least enough to explain the behaviour of everyone around her in this superheroic melodrama.
This particular story isn’t too operatic, but it has its fair share of over-the-top elements, including an X-Men who is coping with the loss of both hands (I have NO idea how this is possible in a world so fantastic when we can reattach limbs in the real world!), a cloned girl who had been “murdered” twice before and who has been pimped out, a villain who is a clone but not really and is possessed by another villain, …etc.
Oh, the humanity!
Honestly, I got kind of bored with all the little twists in this book (and don’t get me started on the overall character arc!). It wasn’t really boring, but it wasn’t exciting either. It had a good mix of drama and action, however, not being too action-oriented, but not being too much of a talkie either. But something just didn’t work somehow. Oh, that’s right: there was little explanation of the backstory and character dynamics.
Of course, this would have been immediately rectified by reading the overview at the back of the book, but I had no idea it was there. So, presumably, the book was put together for people already familiar with X-23. Except that, if this is the case, then why did they even bother to include an overview? Surely the fans already know so much. As with ‘Squadron Supreme‘, this was a poorly considered move.
The artwork is pretty decent, but it’s constantly in flux due to a change of guard throughout the collection, and sometimes within the individual issues themselves. I don’t know exactly why this happened, but at least it kept the proceedings fresh: the art was decent , but not brilliant (Conrad is better at close-ups than larger scopes), so different flavours helped to sustain my interest.
In the end, I felt like I had gotten a decent first taste of X-23, but it didn’t excite me in the way that Wolverine did when he clawed his way onto the scene. She felt underdeveloped and somewhat inconsistent, so I couldn’t connect. Furthermore, this collection felt like an after-school special with superheroes: dark, gritty and heavy on the melodrama and twists. It was alright, but I may actually skip the second collection.