Last week I called this issue "whoa" and it really is. There's just so much here it's hard to tell really where to start.
The issue was the wrap up of the Chaos Theory story, and while solicits suggested it was the start of a new arc it seemed to most that it was really the end of the other. Within the subtext of the story it is the start of a new arc, but an arc that's been interwoven throughout since issue 3 of the ongoing. This is the turning point really where it's revealed and the pieces start to fall into place more directly. It is both the end of an arc and a new beginning to her life.
This is the issue where X-23's sword metaphor gets pushed to a literal meaning. She's the "Chosen Vessel" for the uni-power sword. Something I'm sure will come back into play much later. That little phrase will play into the much bigger picture. It may even be connected to who this "Mystery Lady" is. Though here's hoping Marvel doesn't make this as obvious in the foreword again. That should be used solely for what happened last time and maybe a few bits to fill in gaps that can't be mentioned in the issue for story reasons (like in the oneshot it would have been nice if it included something about why X-23 doesn't think about Megan and Debra Kinney directly now), not inadvertantly spoil what's to come by being overtly obvious with what it tells about the past. I skipped the foreword recap in this issue out of habit, so I can't comment on that for this issue at least.
This issue in particular has a lot that it's reaching for and setting up for the future. It speaks to reaching for the stars and what anyone is capable of if they just try as well as suggesting that X-23 has a light within her darkness. Two things that may not be related to each other that she still needs to learn. It has meta-commentary about men using X-23 for their whims. An idea that can relate to previous male writers as well as the Facility or Scott Summers. It foreshadows potentially a cosmic scale internal struggle coming that could multiply X-23's troubles. It pushes a point about how the more you try to hold someone back the more they'll push forward with a renewed strength. It helps show X-23 she is cared for and that she matters to people(an allusion to a previous instance of Elixir trying to do the same in X-Force but that fell on deaf ears). It reflects an X-23 that's growing and maturing and starting to understand more about the world than ever before. An X-23 that sees the world through human eyes, and not as a chessboard.
All around, the entire run as a whole has started pushing boundaries and freeing itself from the reigns of pre-conceptions of what to expect. It evokes a sense similiar to the greatest of books, tv, and film. It's akin to Doctor Who, Supernatural(in particular the Anna and Castiel seasons), and Misfits with its subtle build of characterization and story direction. It alludes to some of the great debates from both theologians and philosophers alike about not just spiritual matters but also life itself. The kind of comic you could sit and analyze and think about for days on end with what it contains. Mind you, even Galileo was scoffed at by his peers, but his contributions changed the way our modern world thinks and how they see the universe around them now.
It's hard to really go into detail about what I see here, but suffice it to say there's something big coming storywise. It's something that could equally divide the fans as amaze them. Such is the way of stories that challenge commonly accepted perceptions. The devil is in the details, but the devil was an angel too.
This comic deserves many more years as a solo title. Here's hoping it's not struck down by those that only glance at the surface and don't see the deeper meanings within. The potential is growing for stories years from now to resolve outlying plot threads like Kimura's vendetta or the remaining Kinney family. Something that makes me grateful those stories haven't been interconnected into this ongoing in a forced type manner as this new growth needs time to develop before those can ever be approached to give them the justice they deserve. Just as this story needs to be free of those problems to fully reach where it's going right now. (Though I still think the little telepathic pervert bothering X-23 might be connected to Kimura, but it keeps that story potential present while still out of reach for awhile with good reason.)