It is a complicated heady issue to put it mildly, though many would say that's an understatement. It shows a return of the psychology that's prevalent throughout the run in Academy X, the minis, and even X-Force.
We finally have Laura Kinney off Utopia for a good while. Something that was extremely needed for her stories to be interesting or even relevant. Let's be honest here. X-23 on an island of mutants is boring. It's nothing against Utopia itself, but there is a reason the best recent stories have to do with them being off Utopia, or going to San Francisco. X-23, a powerful independant woman in her own right, would be boring on Utopia surrounded by her peers.
We do finally have it stated in continuity and in a way that no fan can deny that Laura Kinney is Logan's test-tube daughter. Not exactly his clone, but not exactly not either. She is her mother's daughter, and yet, so much more. The issue really plays up the similiarities between her and Dr. Kinney like the origin minis did.
Laura Kinney is not as mopey as she was anymore. Finally moving forward, she is healing. The self-destructive tendencies are gone, she's making choices, and she's finally taking responsibility for those choices.
The telepathic entity has been integrated into Laura's story. Something that while many aren't fond of, does present numerous possibilities, as well as leaves a mcguffin in place to protect the comic from any future flashback mistakes by Laura.
Memory itself, especially with teenagers, is fickle. This plays up to the psychology of the character. Perception, reality, and how she chooses to put her own spin on her memories is something real people do everyday. Someone with her past, and heavy-handed well-warranted depression, is expected. Though the locket may be seemingly gone for now, it is an interesting notion as people out in the world like Kimura would try to find X-23 by any means, including telepaths. Laura is well trained when it comes to keepsakes and protocols. She is the ultimate chess player, something the first issue pushed rather well.
We finally saw the disregarding of treating Laura Kinney as an animal. Something that was counter-intuitive to everything she represents. She's finally portrayed in her own thoughts as a machine, something the facility attempted to drill into her in trying but failing to breed out emotion entirely, or at least they attempted to beat subservience into her using Kimura.
Using an amalgamation of nature vs nurture in conjunction with the peak experience brought the psychology of the character to the forefront finally and albeit with a few miss-steps, it does bring the character full circle into a form of closure before other stories start up.
While issue 3 chose its own way to portray Laura's soul and how she realized it, in many ways it hit all the key points of my September post about what it should be. While it may have sidestepped the entire do clones have souls debate, it did it in such a manner that did stay true to the character's origins inspite of a miss-step or two. While I'm not thrilled at side-stepping the debate, for a fledgling comic, this might be best instead of being overbearingly political in its message about creating life. While the psychological method used is essentially a 'cure-all,' it is an interesting concept to play with when using something like a soul, and the innate beauty of that concept itself.
This isn't 'good soldier' Laura, and rightfully so, as Laura has never quite been the 'good soldier' who follows orders. She's independant and vocal talking back to her 'superiors' and following orders in a creative manner outside the parameters. This is something that finally starts to come to light again in the issue, albeit only nuanced. She's a character who works well solo, or with a partner, and it's good to see that return for future development. While a good chunk of her depression can be explained by the figurative fact of people basicly waving their finger at her and going "No, Bad doggie, don't do that," it does finally show X-23 moving past that. This being the main cause for her being withdrawn and unable to grow as opposed to before.
The puppy flashback was a masterful addition. Bringing the mini-series full circle, and showing the writer to have done her homework. An older dog is used in the mini-series for the first triggerscent test. This scene explains why trigger was even needed by the facility.
While I say no more flashbacks are needed, I do expect at least one more. That being the creation of Kimura. With Miss Sinister entering the story, and an alluded connection to Mr. Sinister in the upcoming issues, this issue specificly throws a curve ball in what the comic synopsis mysteriously reads. This issue brings up some interesting possibilities that suggest maybe Mr. Sinister's hand is solely in developing Kimura herself. Let's be honest here, Dr. Rice is a quack. None of his experiments worked to the point they had to bring in Dr. Kinney to even create Laura. So how he could conceive let alone create Kimura from an abused orphan girl turned bully is suspect. Hopefully this issue, if it does use a flashback with Mr. Sinister will be a flashback using Kimura and not Laura Kinney. Something that would make sense because as worthless as Dr. Rice is, it would make sense for him to just use his countless resources to just find a test-subject, and pay Mr. Sinister to turn her into his specifications. This seems feasible especially after all the money put into the X-23 project itself.
The portrayal of Julian still as a self-centered jerk, and Scott Summers as a leader who's also quite the dick, came across perfectly. Something that played off well against Storm and Gambit, two other characters who grew up on the streets too. Gambit specificly gets interesting because of his connection to growing up on the streets and then falling into the thieves guild. This is something that in many ways mirrors Laura as she grew up, lost her family because of the facility, and fell into the Institute where everything was all fun and games until they started to use her for X-Force.
I commend these note-worthy things, as well as ample amounts of symbolism and even finally moving Laura forward away from being a killer at all.
That's not to say the comic is not without its faults, but with how masterfully woven this is, they may be intentional. Be sure to check out X-23 v3 issue 4 on sale December 15th, as it begins Laura's first story out in the real world in over 3 years.
(There's that 3 again. Something else that should probably be commended if albeit accidental.)
Another personal thing of mine I commend Marjorie Liu for is the music I was splicing together for the 'fan proposed trailer.' It has become even more relevant now. For that, I don't know how I could ever thank her enough.