Mar 8, 2017

The History of X-23: Proving Why Laura Is Better than Logan, 1

The History of X-23: Proving Why Laura Is Better than Logan
Part 1: Laura Joins the X-Men
Back Issue Ben
Ben Smith

Writer Craig Kyle created X-23 while he was working on the X-Men: Evolution animated series. He once described the characters as “Pinocchio for Marvel Comics, she’s a samurai sword trying to become a real little girl.” I can’t think of a more on-point description than that. Seeing as how Laura has now become a breakout character in a major motion picture, I’ve decided to detail all the reasons why she’s so much better than the character she was derived from, Wolverine. I do it all for you, the people! (More accurately the person, the one single person that reads this. Hi, Mom.)

X-23 made her debut in the mini-series NYX, about mutants discovering their powers on the streets of New York City. It was meant to be an edgier look at teenage mutantdom, but parts of it don’t really fit with her characterization later on. (Specifically her being subservient to your garden variety street pimp.) She next got a pair of mini-series detailing her origin and earliest “adventures,” before she debuted to the larger X-verse in Uncanny X-Men #450 and 451 (during Chris Claremont’s much anticipated but pretty disappointing return to the franchise). Her story then continued after those events in New X-Men, which is where we will begin today.

These storylines take place in New X-Men (2004) #20-46, written by Chris Yost and Craig Kyle, with art primarily by Mark Brooks and Paco Medina.

Following the events of the event series House of M (an underrated event series, but arguably the best of the modern era) the mutant population was Decimated, with only an estimated 300 retaining their powers, and no new mutants being born. At this point, with mutants an endangered species, Logan calls Laura and asks her to come to the mansion, because the younger mutants are going to need her help.

Wolverine introduces her to the junior varsity X-Men squad as his “sister” and genetic clone.

(I’m not going to argue semantics, but Wolverine’s continued refusal to take Laura under his wing is confusing to me. Then again, this Wolverine isn’t the greatest mentor to have. Maybe Claremont’s Wolverine, but not this one. Laura should move in with my family, she needs a hug. We have video games and zero judgments about past assassin behavior.)

The young mutants don’t accept her at all, often referring to her as “clone” or the “weird girl.” (How ironic that those that cling to an identity of being “hated and feared” do their own hating and fearing within their own community. Wait, that’s not ironic, that’s basic human nature unfortunately.)

Cyclops decides to have Laura room with Sooraya, also known as Dust, the Muslim member of the X-universe. (I remember when Dust was introduced during, I think, Grant Morrison’s X-Men run, and wondered why nothing more was ever done with her. I guess I was wrong. IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME.) Laura’s inexperience with normal human interaction immediately makes it awkward.

Not only do the kids not want the scary girl Wolverine around, but Emma Frost is vehemently against her being around her students. One night, Emma tries to rattle Laura with this image of her dead mother.

Which is just a disturbing thing to do.

Emma would also use her telepathic powers to “freeze” Laura during training sessions, in an effort to make her look like a liability and probably to get her hurt.

Laura and Sooraya have an interesting conversation about God, which will generate some questions Laura will have in the future about herself. (Heck, questions I personally have about this crazy ride we call life.)

Sooraya was being lured into a trap by William Stryker and his team of anti-mutant extremists, but Laura saw through the deception, knocked Dust out, and then took her place. Stryker thought he succeeded in killing Dust, but it was really X-23, and you may not remember this, but she had a healing factor. Stryker set his sights on the school, but Laura returned to the mansion and saved the New X-Men, finally earning their respect. (A little life-saving goes a long way toward combating bigotry.)

The team eventually found themselves in battle against the advanced sentinel Nimrod. (I love Nimrod for no rational reason. A big pink murderous death bot? I’m in, I’m all the way in.) Laura makes a huge sacrifice play during the battle that enables the team to defeat Nimrod, but leaves her on the edge of death.

Julian Keller, also known as Hellion (and the boy that was arguably the meanest to her) has Emma enhance his telekinetic powers so he can speed Laura back to the mansion for help.

Julian gets Laura back to the mansion and the team healer, Elixir, in time to save her from dying. (It’s very handy to have a healer around if you’re a superhero team. Captain America needs to step his game up.)

Later, while Julian is still recovering from pushing his powers past their limits, Laura watches over him as he sleeps. (Somewhat creepy, but it’s okay because she was raised in a murder factory. You stop judging her!)

Emma pulls Laura aside to have another conversation. Despite what she may think, Emma claims she doesn’t hate Laura, because they’re very much alike. Emma has accidentally killed people she cared about. She can also tell Laura has developed feelings for Julian, but again tries to convince her to leave the school. In her opinion, the other students will never be safe with her around.

Cessily, also known as Mercury, overhears the conversation and angrily disagrees with Emma. (I have to be honest, I only read the X-23 parts of this series, so I don’t know who half these characters are.)

Cessily and Laura go out to lunch to awkwardly discuss these strange new feelings that Laura is experiencing. Cessily probably thinks they’re having some girl time, meanwhile Laura is so uncomfortable she’s cutting herself under the table.

But they are interrupted when Facility (the organization that created and trained Laura) agents led by Kimura (Laura’s arch-enemy trained specifically to counteract her abilities) arrive and attack.

(Kimura was introduced during X-23: Target X and is invulnerable, making her the perfect counterbalance to Laura. She’s also a real jerk.)

To the surprise of both of them, the Facility is there to kidnap Mercury, not Laura. They succeed, and Laura is left behind to see her worst fears realized yet again. Anyone and everyone she has ever known has been hurt or killed because of her.

That’s a good place to stop for now. Come back next time, same X-time, same X-channel.

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