Well today in particular marks a special day. Today, August 2nd of 2012 is X-23's 9 year anniversary.
So let's see what Avengers Academy's issue from yesterday had ready for us. Being part 1 in the highly anticipated 4 part Final Exam story arc, it should be interesting. The issue does have a heavy focus on the original core team with White Tiger and X-23, but there were still some interesting and great X-23 moments to be seen.
X-23 and Finesse, a team-up unseen.
We're given a brief glimpse into these two in the savage land, with potentially more bonding than that behind the scenes. These are definitely stories I wish could have been explored more and it's a shame X-23's ongoing was canceled as it would have been the perfect place for that.
X-23's new costume.
As mentioned above, X-23's 9 year anniversary was the day after this issue was released. Whether it was accidental or not, her new costume is a nice gift for that date. It's a nice improvement, even borderline Future Foundation influenced in the design. Something that makes me curious to see how it would look in those black and white colors. I love the pallette choices for now though, but it's definitely a design that will work well with many different color pairings. This costume marks her 7th distinctly different costume. Her first being Innocence Lost Facility mission attire and the Target X variation thereof, the second was her commonly used athletic suit, her third was the variation on the Wolverine Fang costume, the 4th was her white and purple athletic attire as used in the Captain Universe oneshot, the 5th was her Academy X graduate suit, and the 6th is her X-Force costume alongside the minor X-Men variation it had. Counting the variations on these suits, this costume marks her 9th costume change not counting the full uni-power suit. Which is quite fitting as it has now been 9 years since the character debuted to the public through the first airing of her X-Men Evolution episode.
X-23 getting growly.
A little heavy on the animal nature which seems odd considering her history, but it also works in many ways because of the surprise and shock factor of the scenario. I was a little taken aback by how she didn't notice the scent difference with the "Clean Slate" but that can also be attributed to the fact she didn't have a prelim scent to base the environment off of, and even so her powers were slowly being negated once in the room anyway. This seems to create a logic issue though. If the room was pumped with the aerosol while they were there. She would have noticed, if the room wasn't, she wouldn't have known if Veil was lying or not. This I'll just attribute to the speed at which "Clean Slate" works with how it was distributed in the room as opposed to the pure aerosol sample that Hazmat dosed herself with. It could also be that X-23's training took over so she was looking for the tells of a lie and not basing it off of her abilities. This also fits with the dialogue moreso, but as would the tells if she were using her powers to detect them. It can go either direction.
X-23 without her healing factor.
This was punctuated quite well with both the Adamantium poisoning remark and the blood splatter when she pops her claws. We've also been given precedent on this with Wolverine back during Mutants vs Vampires when Cyclops used nanobots to turn off Logan's healing factor. So it's not that surprising that it worked here. X-23's healing factor has been the subject of many dependancy remarks going as far back as the Yost/Kyle usages of the character. It's going to be interesting to see how Gage and crew deal with Laura without that dependancy. Laura's always been one to step up to the plate even without it as seen in Circle of Four, but now we're given a chance for all her skill sets to truly shine without it in a more natural urban type environment she's accustomed to as opposed to magic where her training is somewhat lacking.
Overall there are also strong parallels between Final Exam and what's happening over in AvX. It raises the question of power corruption and arrogance alongside other concepts that play hand in hand with that when one party with alleged absolute betterment of mankind purposes wants to impose their will onto the world for what they think is best.
It's a decent kick-off to the Final Exam arc, and I look forward to reading more. With both Finesse and X-23 on the side of the angels, it should be interesting to see how this all plays out when they don't have their powers to rely on anymore. This is something both have had a tendency to depend on more than their training, and it should prove interesting to see how they adapt to the skillsets they have without that dependancy. All around it harkens back to some interesting classic Marvel nods, like when the Fantastic 4 temporarily lost their powers and had to adapt to a crisis without them. The same comparison can be made towards Spider-man who had to deal with similar once. Something X-23's costume itself somewhat alludes to with its Future Foundation Spider-man influences.