Dropped in the Middle Review: X-23 #18 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

So, I had a bunch of fun writing the review of The Flash last week. For me, I find it dull just to review the same comic books every month, especially if I like them. Truthfully, I find it more fun to trash things. Not to say I trash things just to trash them, but I can tap into the bitter old curmudgeon that’s being forged inside my being. “Now get the hell off my lawn!!!!”

Fast forward to this week, and I was looking for another title to jump aboard like a freight train running through town. My editor suggested one of his favorite titles, X-23. Little did he know that he fell into my sinister trap! BWAH HAH HAH HA!!!! Yes, Grey Scherl, I have no remorse and care not for your promises of fame and fortune! Come to me, son of Nexus. Kneel before Rob!!!!

Whoa, sorry about that. Maybe I’ll shave my evil moustache prior to Christmas.

Regardless, I figured what the hey… instead of reading about writers that create a Wolverine pseudo-clone…. Let’s read about a hero that was actually physically cloned from Wolverine!

X-23 #18: Misadventures in Babysitting Part 2

Published By: Marvel Comics
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Publish Date: 12/07/2011 (February 2012)
Cover Price: $2.99
Review: Digital Copy (from Comixology)

I really can’t tell you anything about X-23, but that’s only due to my lack of knowledge. I mean there was that recent X-Men Schism cross-over thing where Wolverine is now in West Chester and Cyclops is in San Francisco. So I think she was kept mostly out of that whole issue.

According to the synopsis, she is baby-sitting Franklin and Valeria, the children of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four. Apparently during the gig, the children somehow summon a dragon that drags them off into the shy.

Other than that, she’s young, pretty, and has Wolverine claws.

Synopsis

  • X-23 (Laura) is riding a dragon that has abducted Franklin and Valeria. She starts attacking it forcing it downwards, when Hellion comes to assist.
  • Hellion blasts the dragon, forcing it to drop the kids. Hellion grabs the kids, but Laura asks him to give them back to her.
  • A strange yellow light transports X-23 and Hellion to some other place, separated from the kids.
  • X-23 and Hellion connect and tell each other their feelings, sorting out each others place and alliance.
  • Laura eventually finds the kids, but is attacked by Tanleer Tivan, who is an elder of the universe.
  • Tanleer uses his powers to move the children, and then end up being outside a spaceship (the one they are on)

Analysis

Look, I am not interested in a story about a Wolverine clone who happens to be a teen/20-something girl, alright? I know nothing about her powers or backstory. I had to look up who Jullian is. I don’t know why she has to take a babysitting gig. The only thing that I DO know is that her comic is being cancelled in a few months.

All that being said… this is a VERY good comic book. (My apologies for doubting my editor, Grey). I didn’t know where I was in the story-arc or where I was going, but for 22 pages I was pulled in for the ride. This very much felt like sitting down with your nephew and watching a cartoon series, and discovering that it’s actually really good.

The feminine take by the writer, Marjorie Liu, was refreshingly evident. There are few things better than a good female writer who can make you appreciate the unique perspective she can bring, especially to an old boys club like the X-Men characters.

And I am amazed, both the writer and the artist are BOTH women! I don’t recall reading a book where the primary members of the creative team were both women (other than when the writer and artist were the same person). Pretty amazing, especially for an X-book, and not some cool indy title.

Sana Takeda (the artist) has some very nice touches in this book. I especially liked the scene where Hellion came to her rescue, as just a green dot in the background.

Despite all of this, the plot of this story is so blatantly one of those, “Superheroes are people too!” stories. I’ll forgive it as it’s been several years since I’ve read this type of story, but it has been done several times before.

The most unbelievable part of the X-Universe. Is it the amazing powers? No! Is it the attractiveness of the characters? No! Is it that none of the characters can stay dead for longer than a year? No! What’s Most Unbelievable is that none of the mutants share the same first name. So we’re talking like 200 active mutants, and no repeated names? Most 1st grade classes have three or more Ashleys, Joshuas, and Christophers, but you apparently can’t join the X-Men if your name is Scott, Bobby, Peter, Katherine, or Emma. So good thing these two are named Laura and Jullian.

Damn Sana Takeda draws really pretty green eyes. I mean like really, wow!

I am rather impressed that any writer could subtly give someone Wolverine like powers and traits. But, Laura’s single-minded determination, and the fact that she can her senses are enhanced: “The air tastes metallic, recycled, which means walls.”

I don’t know whether it was intentional, but I loved the fact that X-23 has been hanging around Gambit, and Hellion replied that it’s creepy for a grown man to be hanging around a teenage girl. There used to be a fierce internet debate whether Gambit liked young girls based on some interactions with both the teenage-transformed Storm, and Jubilee. It’s very funny to see it brought up here.

The end was really weird. I’m not sure in Taneleer actually used X-23’s claws to affect the glass prison that the kids were in. The art didn’t really match the story there, and prior to that it was spot-on.

The biggest flaw in the book is that there wasn’t a secondary story with the characters. The main plot is Laura watching and protecting the kids from the mischief that they have gotten them into. The secondary plot is Laura reconnecting with Hellion. This story could have used some secondary characters or something else. Instead it was all X-23, all the time.

Verdict

I was genuinely surprised. I figured that maybe this would be a book that would not appeal to me as a comic book reader, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Most specifically, I found this to be the right mix of gravity and whimsy. A fun rollicking adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously or requires detailed explanations; however, the character takes her responsibilities extremely seriously. The mix between these elements is generally fun. I liked the title quite a bit because of it.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to read the next issue of this title, as it is getting cancelled in the near future. But here’s hoping that Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are a team that works together in the future. I know I will check it out.

8.5 (Can’t remember a title I enjoyed more, while expecing so little)


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