Monday, October 27, 2014

Legacy of Logan Issue 2 - Accidentally Sexist?

I've been taking a break from the blog to try and clear my head mostly because of some random and hectic things in my own life I don't want to go into detail about, but I have been keeping up a little bit with comics while still updating the tumblr page and Facebook group.  So I did read Black Widow issue 11 and Legacy of Logan issue 2.

First of all, I want to commend the usage of X-23 in Black Widow issue 11.  They really did their homework on the character and highlighted her strengths and other skills that often get overlooked by other writers. This includes the fact she is a highly trained interrogator to gather intelligence on missions.  Something that even Black Widow was displayed as not aware of, but Laura waved her off with a simple gesture and an "I got this."  It perfectly and subtly hinted at how capable X-23 is that others may not even be aware.

Then I got to Legacy of Logan issue 2.  This issue is the whole reason I had to speak.  It was going to bother me if I said nothing at all about this.

Let's start off with the opening page.

Legacy of Logan issue 2

Logan did not rescue Laura from the Facility.  He admitted as such back in the second origin miniseries Target X.  By the time he got there, Laura had already escaped thanks to her mother.

Let's take a look back at her origin tale in Target X for a second.

X-23: Target X issue 6
That's right.  Logan didn't save Laura from 'the project.'  A woman did.  Laura's mother.  Okay, so maybe this one was only a slip up.  Small mistake.  Let's keep reading the issue to see...

Then this page pops up in Legacy of Logan issue 2.

The last panel in particular is problematic for a number of reasons.  She says Logan brought her to the X-Men.  Which is technically true as he invited her at the end of Target X.  She instead ends up in New York which led to NYX where she was discovered by a pimp who sold her as a prostitute.  Something that Kiden and a female teacher saved her from.  Not Logan.  Another moment in her history where women saved her.  Not Wolverine.  In fact, later in her appearance in Uncanny X-Men where the X-Men became aware of her, Logan lies to them in claiming he has no idea who or what she is so the team brings her to the mansion.  Not Logan.  Logan got his nose cut off by her in that meeting.  Which much later again in New X-Men issue 20, Logan admits to lying for her when trying to talk her into returning to the mansion.

Academy X: New X-Men issue 20

In the X-23v2 one shot.  This point is brought up again where Kiden and X-23 run into each other.  Kiden berates Logan.  She thinks he's another pimp trying to use Laura.  A tirade, I might add, that puts Kiden on Logan's good side as one of Laura's friends he likes because they look out for her.

This isn't to say that Logan wasn't looking out for Laura.  One of the initial fights Cyclops and Wolverine had long before Schism was about X-23 herself and how Scott was using her.  In many ways, you could say it was this history with X-23 that led Wolverine and Cyclops to duke it out altogether in Schism even prior to the straw that broke the camel's back.

X-Force v3 issue 1 pg 13
X-Force v3 issue 1 pg 17

He's referring to bringing her to the institute the third time by the way.  The first time she came on her own and was captured by Captain America on orders from S.H.I.E.L.D. as shown in Target X, and the second time she was discovered in New York by the Uncanny X-Men which Logan lied about knowing who she was.  The third time is when he called her cell phone in New X-Men issue 20.

Logan tried to help her in many ways, but a large chunk of their interactions weren't very positive until the X-23 v3 comic run.  Most of their interactions prior to that had him yelling at her.

X-Force v3 issue 4

X-Force v3 issue 4

A lesson though, she does take to heart even at her own expense sadly.  A lesson that Logan didn't quite articulate in a manner needed.  The way he went off on her made Laura put her life at risk and feel worthless.  Something that carried over in that issue itself, and the story arc that came after.

X-Force v3 issue 4
X-Force v3 issue 4
Most of their interactions through the X-Force v3 series are like this.  Logan is very gruff and stern with her.  His advice both helps shape her moral code, but also accidentally hinders her self-worth and makes her reckless and emotional.  More often in the comic run, she's berating him for poor strategic implementations and overestimating the emotional resilience of team members.  Points she's often proven right about with him telling her not to say "I toldja so."  In the X-Force miniseries Sex and Violence, they even mock this about their relationship where at the end he's berating her for saving him, and the others are laughing about it because they all know she was right to and he's only frustrated that he needed the help at all.

X-Force v3 issue 8

X-Force v3 issue 8

There are some nicer moments in some of their interactions still.  In New X-Men there's the moment where he lets X-23 handle Lady Deathstrike so Laura can take out her frustrations on how Deathstrike harmed a friend of hers.  Then later in the X-23 v3 run, Logan and Laura effectively patch up their relationship with the help of Gambit and Jubilee.

Wolverine has indeed been a pivotal point of helping direct Laura, but more often, it's been the women in Laura's life that have truly helped her.  The kindred spirit she found in Psylocke during her brief stint with the Uncanny X-Men.  The kindness Storm had shown her during the beginning of the X-23 v3 run when Logan was possessed by a demon.  Kiden and the teacher showing Laura a different path and helping her escape from being pimped out and giving her a new family to look after during NYX.  Mercury, Dust, and Surge with helping Laura adjust to being at the Xavier Institute and dealing with new emotions.  Jubilee and her life advice during the v3 comic run's romp in repairing the Logan Laura relationship.  Megan and Debra Kinney with giving Laura a home and helping her learn about friends and family after she escaped the Facility.  Even her own mother who risked and sacrificed her life to save Laura from the Facility itself.

It's been mostly women that have directed and impacted Laura's life in the positive ways, and it feels odd to have that not recognized and seemingly overlooked by Marvel themselves.  It feels like an attempt to rewrite Laura's history so that a man is the one who saved her at these pivotal points when it wasn't.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Due to some current heavy personal life issues, Kinney Pride will be going on an indefinite hiatus for the time being.

Triggerscent as an Allegory For Date Rape Drugs

That's a heady line to read.
Really, sit back and think about it for a second.  Let it sink in.

It's hard to think whether or not it was intended as such.  Back in 2006 when it was added to her origin, was that intentional?  Early usage in the initial tale is hard to tell.  The follow up with Target X it becomes a little more hazy as to whether it was intentional or not, but the symbolism does start to show up.  Over time it starts to become more pronounced.

When this scent crosses X-23's path, she literally blacks out and then wakes up to everyone being dead per her own words.  The time loss is there.  The unknown actions.  Not knowing what has transpired.  The location disorientation.  There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn upon.

Instead of letting herself become assaulted though, she becomes highly aggressive.  So while it carries hues of the same stories you hear from date rape victims, there is a different connotation.  Triggerscent makes all of X-23's anger, frustration, and fury come to the surface.  It boils over and she has minimal to no control over her actions in harming others during it.

But she's still powerless in a different way.  She's still being used because of an induced state.  While induced she may be evoking all the fury that a victim of such an ordeal wishes they could to avoid what happened to them, she's dealing with guilt over what may have transpired still.  It's a moment of powerlessness still.  In a way you could say she embodies all the anger and frustration that a victim handles but not only is it in the moment itself, it's also still there in the wake of it.  There's still the guilt even though it's not her fault.  The remorse.  The avoidance.  In many ways, the story in Not Forgotten itself is taking this aspect of her and using it to empower her.  Using it against the very captors that inflicted her with this burden.

When you take this into consideration, it makes what happened with Finesse and the lie Finesse told Laura all the more heartbreaking in how she used X-23 during the Final Exam story arc of Avengers Academy.  Maybe this yields some perspective into the various traits of Laura and the different directions writers have taken her.  Every writer that has handled X-23 at a different period in her life has done so with different focuses because of where she was at emotionally in that point of time.  It's not that the character has been written poorly by anyone.  It's that dealing with what she has, from start to now, might be more than any one reader may realize or able to fully comprehend.

Whether it's Claremont and X-23 still dealing with all she's lost early on so she's only displaying what others think or expect of her, or Yost & Kyle with her robotic unfeeling aspects still learning about emotion and understanding herself, even with displays of pure arrogance and strategic superiority knowing she's right in what she's saying but unable to understand the emotional implications others are trying to plan around.  Her solid pursuit of a mission or a goal over all else as something to focus on and direct herself, to then that being taken away by the very man that's supposed to help her.  Becoming lost and confused stuck in her own head and trying to find her own path in the wake of that under Marjorie Liu's pen.  Starting to open up again but then feeling used and distraught by the very teammate she's grown closest to under Gage's writing in Avengers Academy.  Being turned back into a weapon for a sadistic man's joys by Hopeless' hands in Avengers Arena.  To finally trying to live life differently and avoiding thinking of the past as much as she can, even if it means altering how she speaks of events when others ask under Bendis' writing.  All of these writers have brought different traits forward from what the character herself has gone through and how she's trying to cope with it but still has more piled on.  All of these writers have given X-23 nuance and helped show different sides of her as she tries to grow, slips a little, and then works to stand back up again.

X-23 is a complicated character.  She's rich with symbolism and angles to approach.  Some are even darker than what many of us may ever want to admit to.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

X-23 and Lady Deathstrike: The First Time They Met

The Logan Legacy has several characters connected to Logan interacting.  Two of which in particular stand out as an interesting re-occurrence.

X-23 and Lady Deathstrike have met before.  They met way back in the 2008 event Messiah Complex.  This was before Deathstrike's recent changes.  Of course, this story is also the reason that caused those changes to her attire and even needing new bodies.

In New X-Men issue 45, X-23 took on Deathstrike for harming one of her teammates.  Someone at the time she had a crush on.  Of course this was before Hellion's bully antics and abusive tendencies came to Laura's notice and she moved on from him completely.

This brief exchange is classic Laura.  She's precise, uses cunning, listens, and waits for the right moments to strike.  She's not feral.  She's not berserk.  She's calculative and controlled.  There are hues of sass to her remarks that have subtle tones of sarcastic bite without being overtly so.  She's acrobatic and agile.  This is Laura Kinney at her best.  This is Laura Kinney when she was able to focus.  This battle though also highlights Laura's dependence on her healing factor at times.  Something that may have factored into her strategy towards Deathstrike.

Often, X-23 is a character that lets herself be underestimated because it works strategically for her.  Even at her angriest, she maintains a level of calm to see what her opponent is capable of.  She doesn't reveal all her tools at her disposal right away.  The foot claws stay tucked away until the right moment to strike after she's learned what she needed to know about what she's facing.  She lets herself be downplayed simply to rise back up and end the fight.  She strikes with precision disabling her target.  These are the differences between her and Wolverine.  Where a battle between Deathstrike and Logan would rage on for pages with ferocity, X-23's exchange with her is quicker and cleaner overall.  The vital spots are attacked after assessment.  These are the same skills we see from Laura in many of her stories.  There's a level of letting herself be underestimated, so that the enemy she is facing isn't aware of all her skills until it's too late.

This fight back in New X-Men #45 was the death of Lady Deathstrike.  Later, Deathstrike was brought back because of her cyborg nature, but with how quickly and easily she was dispatched by a 'mere child,' you'd think there'd be a little bit more emotional complications to her interactions with X-23.  Possibly even a grudge against Laura for destroying that body.  Now granted that's become a common occurrence for Deathstrike, so maybe it's something she's used to at this point like a snake that sheds its skin.  Of course there's also the potential that Deathstrike is missing memories because of when her various backups were made that then were transferred to her bodies.  Even so, X-23 should remember their previous meeting still.

This is a battle that became so iconic at the time, there was even a statue dio made of it for collectors.