This issue, just wow. It left me speechless. It made me fist pump with how awesome it was. Okay that's a lie. My arm shot up and did the rock on hand gesture. Which was really awkward to do with how I was sitting when reading this, but it happened pure instinctually with how awesome the issue was. That was before hitting the halfway point of the issue. For the record, no Marvel comic has ever made me do that before. The only other thing that has was the tv show Supernatural during Castiel's rampage as God against what was an allusion to the Westboro Baptist Church. Yes, this issue was just that epic but done in a more subtle and thought provoking way.
It was everything an X-23 comic should be. It had plenty of action, fantastic artwork, and a story that uses human nature to a degree other comics only dream of.
It started off with Julian, aka Hellion, being the focus. He was written in such a manner that it pushes the boundaries of sympathy or just self-centered prick. He was written entirely true to the character but diving into truths a male writer would fear to tread. He evoked the arrogance, the pain, and the entire lost nature of a boy dealing with emotions alongside accidental transference that reveals elements of his deeper rooted nature. Most male writers would hate to admit this in any fashion, but Julian is being used in a way that perfectly symbolizes how many guys act towards women and symbolizes perfectly what the problems to acting like that are. It's something that I'm sure a female writer and reader alike can identify with from putting up with it themselves from guys. Hell, I see it all the time in just how the boyfriends of girls I know act and it sickens me, especially how they then turn around and act like they did nothing and convince them it's perfectly acceptable behaviour for what she did? WTF!?! No it's NOT! A man DOES NOT act that way period! It's something I never thought any writer ever would tread towards but am extremely glad this issue did. This is something that deserves its own entry to go on a tangent about because it's such a common issue among how men act and why they drive away those they claim to care about with these borderline obsessive, stalkerish, emotionally unstable, clingy, and threatening behaviours followed by being apologetic when it's just bound to happen again. (Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to dedicate an entire blog entry to this at some point! Mucho gracias Ms. Liu for the soap box excuse! This includes a side tangent about verbal abuse and how it more often than not leads to physical abuse. Something Hellion has symbolized for god knows how long with how he treats others and yet tries to play the "I'm a good guy" card to hide behind.) If Hellion's not careful, he just might push Laura away for good to the point she'll need to leave Logan's school.
Gambit came across as the completely badass father figure, to the point I'm not sure it can be quantified on the awesome scale. Marjorie Liu sets a new bar for how awesome Gambit can be with every story.
The rest of the issue is exactly what's missing in comics these days. It's fun, witty, and all around the perfect balance of relatable children cliches to original commentary without getting the overtones or purpose lost within the story it's trying to tell.
Valeria and Franklin provide the perfect elements. Sue Richards provides a completely perfect yet subtle nuance to what Laura experienced a few issues ago as a woman in the city herself. All around this issue is just brimming with subtext, commentary, and more sublime story telling than one would expect from even the best of Marvel these days.
The artwork by Sana Takeda really helps elevate this story to a new standard. The fluid dynamic action, angle usage within the panels, and more all speak to just utter perfection and all around are beyond awesome. The artwork really shows why this title gives artists a chance to try something new and different without a reliance on old tired panel standards. It gives them a means to elevate their artform, and this issue in particular does that perfectly under Sana Takeda's hand. The combination of an overused standard, the ages old fantasy dragon, and the application of these techniques really mesh well to create a sense of wonderment, awe, and what's old is made new again. I know there's a better more succinct term for it in the art world, but it escapes me at the moment. The end result is a fully engrossing page turner that you just want to read over and over, never wanting it to end.
It makes me feel ashamed of liking Marvel knowing that this title is getting the axe. This issue alone symbolizes everything that makes comics great while most of their other comics cause event fatigue and boredom lately. It has a writer that cares and makes sure every issue is the best it can be. A writer who learned from mistakes and pushed on while other comics from Marvel are riddled with errors galore and keep making the same mistakes over and over. The team behind this comic wants to put out the best product they can, to represent Marvel with the kind of dignity the brand deserves, and it shows in work like this issue. This is why it really disheartens me to hear of it being canceled compared to other titles that don't take that kind of initiative or care.
Outright this issue is a must read. If the rest of this arc stays as awesome as this, this might just become my new #1 favorite X-23 story. An issue and story I highly recommend for all to go out and buy!