Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Common Misconceptions About X-23

These are things that come up quite frequently with X-23 that many fans and writers both seem to miss.  With Bendis taking over the reins of writing X-23 potentially soon, plus this being in the midst of her anniversary celebrations on this blog, it seemed like a great time to go over them.

X-23 is a Clone of Wolverine/X-23 is a Genetic Twin of Wolverine.
I lumped these two together because they stem from the same sources.  X-23's origin usages are tricky.  Intentionally so.  The origin comics, Academy X issues, and even X-Force v3 are all exercises in how well readers pay attention.  This is the source of the issue to this misconception.  The areas that describe what she is are lost behind remarks to dehumanize her and swipes at her mother by a sociopath.

The easiest answer to this is that she is her mother's daughter.  Per Dr. Kinney's own words, Laura is only a genetic twin to Weapon X through the mutant DNA.

X-23 v1 issue 1

We also know that Dr. Zander Rice used the word "clone" to further dehumanize Laura because that was the original intended goal of the program and it was his way of taking verbal vengence against Laura's mother for upstaging him repeatedly.  This same mentality of his also revealed another detail though, that of why Dr. Kinney had to be the surrogate to carry X-23 to term.  In most high finance labs, her secret project would have been discovered because of inventory practices.  So she had to have used other means around those checks and balances that wouldn't have been detected.

X-23 v1 issue 1

This was also revisited during issue 3 of the X-23 v3 comic.

X-23 v3 issue 3

Essentially this makes Laura a daughter of both James Howlett and Dr. Sarah Kinney.  While her tale does involve genetic manipulation, she is not your stereotypical science fiction clone that only has one set of genes.  She carries her mother's genes and Logan's.  She was created with enough traces of his DNA to guarantee the mutant gene needed.  We also know from previous Marvel stories that the X factor or mutant gene is handed down from the father's side.  This is why Laura shares the same facial structure, hair, and even eyes of her mother but has similar abilities to Wolverine.  The visual factors and clues refute what many claim she is though it is deliberately hidden behind sharpened sarcasm to dehumanize and demean her.

In Academy X we have further disinformation about this that clouds the subject or so it would seem.  Logan refers to her as his genetic clone/sister in an "I don't know what this means" type fashion.  This is very deliberate.  Wolverine as a character is not a scientist.  He wouldn't know what it means.  So his words do not speak to what X-23 is.  They speak to his own lack of knowledge on this subject intentionally.  Beast could sit down and explain it entirely to him and he probably still wouldn't understand.  Genetics is not one of Logan's fields of expertise.

New X-Men v2 issue 21

Laura is more akin to a test tube baby, as per how Dr. Kinney was able to salvage the Weapon X DNA and create a viable solution without the Facility's knowledge until she presented it to them as an option.  While clone is the easiest word to describe her as is genetic twin, it is not wholly accurate to what she actually is in the 616 Marvel Universe.  It is simply a word she has had shoved onto her since birth by those that want to demean and dehumanize her.  A word that has helped contribute to making her feel sub-human and to respond as such as seen in the X-Force v3 story Old Ghosts as well.

X-23's Claws.
This is one of those details many miss outright.  It's actually a point of interesting trivia too.
Laura's claws are the same length as they were when she was nine years old.  That's when her mutant powers were forcibly activated.  At which point they coated her claws with adamantium.  Once they were encased in the metal, they no longer grew in length.  Therefore her claws have been the same length since that happened.

X-23 v1 issue 2

X-23 as a Female Wolverine.
This is the most common misconception among fans.  She's not.  She's his opposite.  Where he's animalistic and instinctual, X-23 is more calculative, well read, and precise barring when she's induced emotionally to respond.  Even when emotionally induced though, she carries a form of precision unmatched by even Wolverine.  We've seen this several times in Academy X, X-Force, the Origin minis, and even during the run of the v3 comic.  Most notably it can be seen in their first fight at the end of Target X where she takes Logan down with moderate ease using tactical precision, knowledge, and her environment while he goes berserk.  She is the best at what she does, officially taking that title from Wolverine in that very fight.

X-23's Recklessness.
This is a common aspect of X-23 that comes up.  Quite often in fact.  The arrogance instilled into her by the Facility has made it a quite repeating theme.  They wanted to create the perfect weapon and she beat every time limit and mission parameters they dished out.  This arrogance has off and on created a similar effect of the "teen bubble" where one thinks they are impervious to any and all harm no matter their actions.  X-23 herself has never failed a mission as yet which adds to this.  Some of her methods have been complete "Hail Maries" though.  Those by definition are reckless.  This is most pronounced in the X-Force v3 story Not Forgotten with how she escaped the Facility using Triggerscent in the sprinkler system that literally caused her to be in a blind berserker rage to take on her captors.  It's also visible in her attempted suicide during the X-Force v3 story Old Ghosts after she is injected with the Legacy Virus.  She runs past Elixir who could cure her to complete the mission right then and there. Instead she goes out of her way to get to the molten metal vats because of her perceived lack of self-worth.  She tries to sacrifice herself needlessly. The mission itself reminding her of how she was treated as less than human from being considered a clone.  The very perceptions of herself as a clone as inflicted upon her by Dr. Zander Rice's constant derogatory remarks as such because of his hatred of Dr. Kinney and anything Wolverine/Weapon X.  We've also seen it before in how she handled Nimrod while with the New X-Men(New X-Men v2 issue 31, part 4 of the story Nimrod), a battle that bounces between her tactics and recklessness within the same story and the same fight even as she attacks from the front directly over his chest laser compartment with which he blasts her.  It also shows up in how she was incapacitated by Belasco after attacking him assuming she could kill him in his own realm with no knowledge of his capabilities even after making references to having read up on the Xavier Institute's database(New X-Men issues 38-41 from the story Quest for Magick).  It's highlighted in X-23 v3 issue 20 with her actions at the night club with Jubilee as was pointed out by Black Widow.  It also pops up in the v2 oneshot comic briefly when she randomly beheads a pimp with no concerns to repercussions of her actions, as well as in NYX v1 where she lets herself be shot by Zebra Daddy and his men before killing them.  This is a seemingly reoccurring theme with X-23.  She bounces between references of constantly reading be it books or files on hand, her tactical knowledge with precision and planning to at other times being reckless and making illogical impulsive moves that put herself in more danger.  Many instances reflect these aspects of her within the same story.  So far, all writers have touched on this subject with her if even briefly.

X-23 as a Prostitute(NYX).
This is an interesting point from Joe Quesada.  During NYX, X-23 was introduced as a prostitute that handles clients that have fetishes.  Most notably the one we're shown is a client that enjoys being cut up.  No actual sexual scene is depicted.  The comic is handled in an interesting manner that it lets the reader impose their views into the scene over what's actually there.  This has led to many assuming X-23 has done more than has actually been revealed and letting their own views and desires cloud the subject.

The truth is if you look at the claw marks on her only shown client's back, it's physically impossible for them to have happened during any intimate act other than her sitting behind him.  The marks are displayed with a pattern that would have to be done from this angle.  The marks shown could only be created if she were straddling him from behind and suggest small swipe motions with how they were potentially created.  Any other act she may have done has yet to be revealed or discussed in story.

NYX v1 Issue 3

X-23 and Adamantium Bones.
She doesn't have them.  The X-Men Evolution episode version of her does, but there is a story flaw in that usage.  The flaw being that once the bones are coated, they can't grow.  She would be perpetually stuck at whatever height when this process is used as this would stunt her growth(the bones would not absorb nutrients nor grow).  Small goof by the show since it then further showed that she has grown up in the finale's potential futures.  This is why the 616 universe version does not have them.  This is a process that may someday happen, but only once she has reached the peak of her maturation.  Until then, it would cause quite too many problems in her usages.  Though someday this story may need to be covered or an element may need to be addressed as she also still has the same claw lengths as when she was 9 years old.  Potentially thanks to the New X-Men v2 story Mercury Falling, there is the possibility that they could use a process similar with information from Mercury's biology to create an organic adamantium like substance that could grow and adapt with her while not inhibiting her bone growth or healing factor as it does Wolverine(bone marrow plays a vital role in your body's antibodies as well).  This could be something akin to what Logan's son over in the Marvel Ultimate universe has in place, but it has yet to be seen if such a story element would be accepted and or could be done.  Potentially such a substance would also be lighter than Logan's bones as Laura already has problems with swimming as depicted in her v3 comic.  Not so much that she can't swim, but her claws and the density of the metal do cause her to sink.  The usage of her and water in the origin mini Innocence Lost implies she had a wet suit and potentially scuba gear.  An easier story point once she reaches her peak age could be allowing Apocalypse to turn her into a Horseman.  This would mirror a previous usage we've seen with Wolverine, and would allow more stories that could prove quite thought provoking under the right pen.

X-23 v1 issue 3

X-23 v3 issue 7 preview page 1
X-23 v3 issue 7 preview page 2

X-23 and Her Usage of Contractions.
For the most part she doesn't use them.  There have been many moments though where she has rather directly.  Several under Craig Kyle and Chris Yost(Target X issue 1 and New X-Men issue 24, 26, 31, and 38 among more), the other under Marjorie Liu(X-23 v3 issue 2).  Most instances were extreme moments of emotional duress that seemingly made her use them as a point of showing her human side and letting the machine precise emotionless killer fall to the wayside.  It seems that certain kinds of strong emotions do bring out the more human side of her and make those proper aspects of her speech guard fall away.  There are also instances of it falling away as she becomes more comfortable with people as seen with Dust in issue 26 of New X-Men as they discuss God and slowly more with her other teammates as she begins to accept them as friends and fellow students of the Academy.  During her spiral backwards with X-Force, she seemingly reverts back to not using them.  This is a subtle way to highlight her persona backsliding into how she was with the Facility and the missions to kill they gave her besides of course her in story coldness towards her fellow teammates.  This coldness is also highlighted most prominently where Logan rather physically reminds her what they are fighting to protect in relation to Rahne Sinclair.  Something she had seemingly forgotten since her Academy X days where she was doing just that.  Her speech patterns give way to her character progression and where she is in her life just as her coldness towards her fellow teammates can also reflect where her focus is about taking lives or not.  The more she tries to distance herself from being human, the less she uses contractions.   The more she feels "normal" and "accepted" or even under extreme emotional duress they begin to start slipping into her speech pattern again sporadically.

X-23: Target X issue 1 page 10
New X-Men v2 issue 26 page 8

X-23 v3 issue 2 page 20

X-23 and Cell Phones.
She's had 2 that we are aware of.  The first one being potentially a Nokia burn phone that we are never made aware of how she acquired nor how Logan managed to get the phone number of (it's a story technique that many often don't think twice about or notice).  After this one time use in Academy X New X-Men issue 20, it was sent to sleep with the fishes.  The second one is the cell phone that Gambit had given her during her v3 comic.  Currently this is the only phone she still has as it hasn't been shown to be destroyed or incapacitated in the comics as yet.  Potentially she may have been separated from her phone during the transition to Avengers Arena.  Though much like Laura's family locket, it may be stored in a safe place once she returns from the island.

New X-Men v2 issue 20 pages 20-21
X-23 v3 issue 17 pages 8-9

These are just a handful of misconceptions surrounding her character that can be easily missed if one is not detail oriented in reading her comics.  They seemingly were written as such intentionally with the techniques used to suggest information that can be clouded by reader perceptions and states of mind.  It's a very ingenious method and technique that has led to these misconceptions becoming fan accepted facts due to how easily they can be overlooked when they shouldn't be.


  1. I have been following your logs on X-23(one of my favorite Marvel Femme Fatales) and I do like to commend you on this piece. You have scrutinized some of the fine details of Laura that not a lot of people have and ever will. This piece alone is a testament of your love for this character. I appreciate such notions. That and your writing is astounding. Keep it up.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate the kind words. This one took forever to research too, and I learned a lot along the way I had overlooked myself initially.