X-23 #5 Review

Story Title: Innocence Lost
Reviewer: Paul Sebert

Story: Craig Kyle
Writers: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colors: Brian Haberlin
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel

It’s kind of odd that Marvel chose to launch it’s “Marvel Next” franchise with two books about adolescent girls. Araña’s about a girl coming to terms with her powers as she finds herself on the crossroads of adolescence and full adulthood. As she finds herself drawn in between the mystical war between the Wasps and Ezekiel’s old posse she finds herself still struggling to define herself. It’s about a character with hopes, and dreams and crazy Kamen-rider-esque armor.

X-23 on the other hand is about a girl with claws who stabs people and looks sad.

Really that’s about it. It’s a book that’s technically well done, but well alas this mini-series and its titular character come across as quite soulless.

For those of you who haven’t read the first five issues some of Wolverine’s genetic material has fallen into a shadowy group that’s planning on re-creating the Weapon X program. Using some damaged DNA from James “Logan” Howlette (what? You’re telling me Wolverine’s DNA can’t heal itself?) they create the mutant known as X-23. And train her to be the ULTIMATE KILLING MACHINE!

Which is silly because we all know Project: Metalbeast is already the Ultimate Killing Machine. Leading the project is a morally dubious scientist named Martin Sutter, who supervises over a much more evil scientist named Dr. Zander Rice. A power struggle ensues between the two and caught in the middle is the book’s only really sympathetic character is a geneticist named Dr. Sarah Kinney who comes to realize that maybe, just maybe turning a young adolescent girl into a killing machine might be wrong. Meanwhile in the background lurks the enigmatic clone herself who looks on in deep sad eyes that are brown or green depending on who’s doing to coloring. (Really they’re brown on the cover yet green in this issue’s pages, that’s a some pretty damned amateurish goof.) She also politely kills anyone she’s asked to as apparently she’s been conditioned to be unable to refuse a mission.

Which kind of brings us to the biggest problem with this title. As this issue opens up, our morally ambiguous anti-heroine has been ordered by dick Zander to whack Dr. Sutter and his family which includes Zander’s illegitimate son. And the scene goes out exactly as you’d suspect it would, and there’s no real suspense to it as we have no real reason to believe she’s not going to do the horrible stuff she’s been assigned to. The character’s a total cipher in her own book at the mercy of a soap opera among the rest of the book’s supporting cast beyond her control.

She slices, she stabs, she juliennes, and she looks sad.

And that’s pretty much it. Like the titular character, X-23 is built from a sturdy foundation and promises a lot of action… but just comes across as despairing and empty.