Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Penciler: Diego Olortegui
Inkers: Walden Wong, JP Mayer (#9) & Scott Hanna (#9)
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Ashley Witter
Rating: 8/10 Mutant Turkeys
With all these new X-Men titles launching at Marvel right now, I'd have thought I would be feeling content with not needing to enjoy any more stories. Turns out I was wrong as this week’s weekend read/review vote between two ultimate killing machines had me popping my claws to scratch that mutant itch some more. This week I checked back in with Laura Kinney, aka X-23 and her sister (clone) Gabby, post Dawn of X in X-23: X-Assassin. Fair warning, a healing factor will do nothing for any spoilers you experience.
X-Tending The Family Tree
Our story has a following along with Laura and Gabby as they track down a string of murders for the NYPD. With some clever planning, the two manage to get a step ahead of the assassin as confront them, only to discover that they just squared off against the robot clone of Laura! From here our claw popping duo begins to diverge on what they feel should be done about their new sister. Laura wants to view it as a machine and nothing more, while Gabby sees it as a new sister that deserves the same chance at freedom from being a weapon that she did.
If there is anything Laura should have learned by now, is that you gotta go for the source if you are trying to eliminate the production of cloned versions of you. Thanks to some good investigating skills she finds it as she is face to face with the evil scientist that was involved in the first cloning process of her back in her All-New Wolverine. The only thing tougher than a clone of Wolverine is a room full of robot clones of that clone as they all gang up on our clawed hero. She doesn’t have to fight alone for long as Gabby enters the fray with her new robot sister (now in a stylish t-shirt) right behind her to fight off all the other robots until it comes down to a tough goodbye as Robo-Laura sacrifices herself to end the production of these killing machines. What we are left with is a closing issue on Laura and Gabby as they try to reconnect after becoming distant over their feelings on what happened with the robot clones. The best way to do that is with some high-speed train heists as they free some mutant turkeys!
Tamaki brought us a well-paced read in these issues. The story had done great at providing action and heavy plot regarding Laura’s history, while expertly blending in humor from Gabby’s amazing personality. Seeing Gabby interact with the robot clone they captured as have cookies while she entertains her new sister, to the fun rooftop moments with one-sided dialogue, Tamaki did great at showcasing the lighter side of Laura’s story with Gabby’s pure heart.
While I was expecting an action-packed team up with these sisters, I wasn’t expecting the divide in beliefs on what they should do regarding the clones that were introduced in this story. I was surprised to see Laura taking the opposing stance against Gabby on trying to find the humanity in the clones, especially when she was willing to do so for Gabby and the rest when she first encountered them in All-New Wolverine. Before I read this volume, I was aware of the name change of Gabby, going from Honeybadger to Scout. I wasn’t a big fan of the change but I also didn’t know why it was happening before going in. After reading this book and learning how she came to that name with the loss of the robot clones, and finding her mission, it felt more justifiable and I felt myself more open to it. It was the X-23 name I felt was the contradiction after taking it back up to make sure no one had to go through what she did, yet I felt Laura was seeking to do that but if that damage was done to others like her robot clones, they were treated as lost causes.
Olortegui brings entertaining art to these issues with their pencils along with the detailed inkings from Wong, Hanna, and Mayer. The fights are fun to look at with great movement faded images included to see some of the motions take place. The character’s expressions in this are solid, with a great range of expressions that reflect the personalities of the characters well. The best of these is Gabby as her enthusiasm and humor bring life to the panels and characters around her. Her robot clone is the best example of that as she contrasts each page with a blank expression, but by the end of the arc, Gabby’s high energy sparks some life into her to make her own decisions.
O’Halloran fleshes these panels out with a nice color palette that primarily cycles through soft shades of oranges, blues, and yellows.
Though she may have taken up the name of X-23 again, Laura Kinney will always be Wolverine to me. With that being said, a name doesn’t change the fact that I found this run by Tamaki very enjoyable. They looked at tackling Laura’s past and diving into some darker dilemmas regarding it with her and Gabby. They also did a great job of championing Gabby’s character after taking over Tom Taylor’s creation as well as keeping an entertaining dynamic between the two sisters. If the current X-Men titles aren’t giving you enough X-23 badassness, then I would suggest coming back for this run if you haven’t already.