I’m finally going for it. Up until this point, I’ve primarily kept the reviews on this site to novels and screen adaptations of novels, with the occasional exception for other major geek movies, short story collections, and miscellaneous.
I have not regularly reviewed my comic book reading, mainly because I consider prose novels more my specialty, being, y’know, a novelist and all.
However, with a decent amount of comic geekery also under my belt, and with much of my recent and planned near-future writing being superhero satire collaborations with my husband (Matt Carter of Almost Infamous: A Supervillain Novel), and with a giant stack of comic books from under the Christmas tree likely to fill my recreational reading schedule for some time, I’m taking you guys along for the ride!
Heads up, I read by the volume, or occasionally the compendium, not by the issue, and with my storytelling expertise generally resting in a far less visual arena, I won’t emphasize the artwork heavily in my ratings, unless something strikes me as mind-blowingly good or bad.
So let’s get started!
By Tom Taylor, David López, David Navarrot.
Laura Kinney, aka X-23, has taken up the Wolverine mantel from Logan, the original Wolverine and her clone-dad (because chromosomes and DNA are completely extricable in superheroland; go with it). When she discovers that more clones of her exist, and have escaped from their lab to wreak havoc, she sets off to track them down and defuse the situation before they can be exterminated by one organization or another that assumes they’re inhuman monsters.
Pause, time-out, and cue obligatory dialogue on the common practice of creating female versions of popular male superheroes:
Some women (not unreasonably) celebrate this kind of fast-tracked inclusion into the recognizable super pantheons and the much-needed representation it adds, while some argue (also not unreasonably) that the assumed need to piggyback on a male character’s legacy in order to be noteworthy is insulting. Some fans of the copied male characters argue (not always unreasonably) that the female versions tend to be written as pale imitations and end up sounding or feeling inadvertently sexist for favoring the male originals, while multitudes of assholes (completely unreasonably) hide behind this guise of loyalty to the originals in order to be definitely sexist and rail against the concept of female characters who function as anything other than prizes existing at all.
It’s a shitshow of an issue, and it has many full articles devoted to it, and it deserves many more.
So let’s skip the big picture for now and focus on the story at hand and its individual effectiveness.
Anyone expecting Laura to be Logan will be disappointed. As she’ll tell you herself, she’s not. She’s not the same over-the-top killing machine he was either. But that’s not a bad thing.
Back to our regularly scheduled downside. The twist-cliffhanger of this volume could have been better set up, and the simple fact that much of the cast is made up of clones makes it a little difficult to keep track visually of who’s where in some of the faster action scenes.
Laura’s an instantly likeable hero, and the challenge of establishing a character born in a beloved older character’s shadow combines beautifully with her nature as a weaponized clone (now one of many), to create a well-fueled tale of identity crisis and self-discovery.
Logan and Angel are also enjoyable in their brief roles, acting as a refreshingly positive mentor and boyfriend respectively, without hijacking the story, and Doctor Fate’s appearance is a comedic highlight.
Altogether, while the clone conspiracy plotline is duly serious, it’s the self-aware humor and believable affection between the characters that makes this series opener memorable, and makes me look forward to more.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome (just keep it civil, folks)! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!