Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Art of X-23's Ongoing

As you may have noticed over the course of 8 issues, X-23's art has had a tendency to 'jump around' or so it would seem.

On the contrary, this doesn't look simply like the typical comic industry's pattern  of swapping artists around as they feel fit.  It's conveyed with what looks like a purpose behind it.

In these early issues, we have a contrast of light and dark, usages of shadows that seem gritty yet also convey a mix of harshness, confusion, and trying to understand oneself.  They are issues not trying to sell themselves on sex appeal, but on character drive and understanding. This art style plagued by shadows seems to convey the duality of X-23's nature, erring more on the side of the killer inside of her.

In issue 3, we get a small taste of this with Sana Takeda doing a handful of pages to convey the empathy X-23 had in her childhood before the Facility attempted to force it out of her.  This soft glow art style was again used in X-23's issue 7, where X-23 herself made the willing choice to not kill.  An art style that seems to be used to convey her empathy, and ability to make choices on her own not based on death. It seems to be used during times of innocence or purity. Most prevalent during her choices that err on the side of light. A soft angelic glow if you will.

In issue 8, we're given a more standard approach to the comic with less of a focus on these artistic nuances, but again it's shown in the story as to why.  This current Daken crossover arc is more towards about X-23 out to stop experiments on children.  Something the Facility themselves had instilled into her by accident in how they reprimanded her, yet not reprimanding her when children were involved like when she saved Megan the first time, or had saved the 'Sutter' child that had finally tipped Dr. Kinney over the edge in trying to free Laura, her daughter.  This issue and arc isn't about the soul searching Laura is doing, but about her preventing the childhood she had from being inflicted upon others.  Something her mother had suggested in the first miniseries with her letter to Laura.  What she does now, she does for justice. This standard style isn't about this duality, but about her final mission from her mother in a way.

It's details like these, besides the meta subtext of the issues that really prove how amazing the X-23 comic is.  The amount of attention to even the artistic usages shows that this comic has had an excrutiatingly high amount of forethought put into every panel, and especially every word written.  Every issue has small nuances that foreshadow the next.  Whether it be the simple choice of not killing or X-23 trying to understand her own morality, the series as a whole has been about the journey and the quest for what defines X-23 for herself, and not what others cast her into.

This is a comic that an audience can easily see themselves in the broad themes of loneliness and trying to discover what makes themselves special through X-23's eyes and journey.  At the same time, it reflects the idea of even though we may travel these paths alone, we may never be alone with others by our side that we may turn a blind eye to.  An act reflected by Gambit, and his own self-discovery by traveling with Laura who he had meant to help, yet is being helped by her instead.


  1. Wow, great findings. I always thought the art was getting better. But, maybe wasn't paying attention fully to what was happening behind the scenes. I really love your insight into it.

  2. It took me a few issues before I noticed this too. It didn't become evident until I compared the content of the issue with the art used. Like the subtle interwoven psychology Liu uses, the artistic usage was subtle enough to not be obvious as an 'artsy' choice, yet in a way, that's exactly what it is. Something in hindsight, if even by accident, I've got to commend them for.