She may not be The Wolverine anymore, but Laura Kinney still has a mission, a sister to protect and a lot of people out to get her. Your Major Spoilers review of X-23 #1 awaits!
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Christina Harrington
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: June 11, 2018
Previously in X-23: Cloned from the genetic material of Wolverine, Laura Kinney has made a life for herself as one of the X-Men, and even been the official Wolverine herself. In so doing, she discovered that there were more like her and was able to take one such clone under her wing, naming her Gabby (although when she’s in costume, she prefers to be called Honey Badger.) Now, Laura and Gabby are tracking down anyone who would use their (which is to say, Wolverine’s) genetic material to build super-soldiers, and they’re not going to take no for an answer…
“WE ARE HERE BECAUSE MUTANTS MAKE GOOD WEAPONS.”
As an avowed fan of Laura and Gabby, I was quite happy to hear that the return of the 616 Wolverine did not mean the end of their solo book adventures. We open with our twin Wolverines in action against armored agents of an unknown entity, who want to harvest Wolverine DNA for their evil ends. They’re already pretty astute at the genetic modification game, as Gabby ends up facing a repitilian, super-strong jerk while X-23 retrieves the vial of Wolver-guts. In a truly lovely moment, Gabby gets smashed by a truck, leaving Laura to clean up the last of the armored thugs, and when she finds her, Gabby says she feels like a pretzel. “Like an actual pretzel,” she explains, “not like EATING a pretzel.” Once Gabby has working limbs again, they set off for a meeting with The Beast, during which Laura explains that this is her new mission, with Beast pledging his support and assistance for the mission. They encounter the Stepford Cuckoos (clone daughters of Emma Frost), which opens a whole discussion about birthdays and humanity, and the issue ends with the clear setup for clone chaos in the near future.
LOVING THIS ART
Cabal’s art is wonderful in this issue, reminding me of Jamie McKelvie, which is some pretty high praise. His facial expressions are particularly wonderful, as is the fact that Gabby and Laura have exactly the same facial structure and features. (Clones, y’see.) Most impressively, a quiet conflict at a falafel restaurant carries the same emotional weight as Gabby’s desperate battle against a cement truck, and the scenes involving the eerie Stepford Cuckoos, who you may have guessed look like they’re going to be our villains, are excellent. Tamaki’s script keeps the quirky aspects of X-23 and Honey Badger’s personalities, right down to Gabby joking that she’ll be along as soon as her legs work again, and using “stopping more Wolverine clones” as Laura’s new raison d’etre is ingenious. (Also ingenious: Gabby’s new brass knuckles, one of which says “HONY” with the other, presumably saying “BAJR”.) I really appreciate how much effort this story puts into these young women, making it clear that they’re really just teenagers, while also unkillable slicing machines of war.
BOTTOM LINE: PERFECT CHOICE OF VILLAIN
In short, while it’s a bummer to see Laura no longer in the high-profile Wolverine role, these creators are still treating her, her story and her makeshift family with care and respect. X-23 #1 is a fresh new start with lovely art, some fun dialogue, a perfectly chosen antagonist and a clever premise, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. If you’re looking for a place to join in on Laura Kinney’s story, this is going to be your comic book.