Wolverine with boobs and a chemical trigger; that’s one way to sum up my favorite Mavel comic character. It’s very misleading though. I briefly mentioned her in my previous review, but I feel like talking more about her just cause.
X-23 is a child soldier character in the X-men franchise. For the first 13 years of her life, she was raised in a laboratory, trained as a killer, and used to kill all sorts of people for money. Eventually she escaped, and killed everyone that worked in the lab, and has since joined the X-men and is trying to overcome her upbringing and find her place in the world. Despite the fact that she was discouraged from any kind of attachment to anyone (the lab even forced her to kill her sensei and her mother,) she is learning compassion for others, even her enemies as of late, and is fiercely protective of her fellow X-men. Oh, and she happens to be a clone of Wolverine. Wait, what?
(The first time X-23 and Wolverine met, in X-23: Target X. He's since become like a father to her.)
I can't really explain why, but this kind of character interests me. Heck, I've written a number of short stories and three novel-sized stories about a similar character of my own creation in my on and off fiction writing years back. But that's only part of the reason I like the character. Let's start with her creative background.
She was initially created for the X-men Evolutions TV show in 2003 by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.
Later that year, she appeared in NYX #3, and has since gained plenty of popularity. She's had two mini-series' about her origins, has appeared in several alternate universes and has an ongoing series with 9 issues released so far. The final issue of her current crossover with Daken, wolverine's evil son, releases in two days, and issue 10 of X-23 releases next week (which will feature Wolverine and Jubilee.) She's had major roles in several X-men crossovers like Messiah Complex, and has appeared in both the crappy X-men 3 Gameboy Advance game, and in the recent Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Actually, MVC3 is what introduced me to the character, and X-23 was the character that actually got me into comics.
As for being a clone of Wolverine, you might say that's lazy, but I disagree. First of all, Wolverine was one of Weapon X's biggest success stories, even if he escaped soon after they laced his skeleton with adamantium. If he was that effective as a weapon, why wouldn't they clone him? Why is she female? Because they had a damaged sample of Wolverine's DNA and had to remove the Y chromosome and duplicate the X chromosome. More specifically, his Y chromosome was damaged beyond repair, so instead of taking years to rebuild it, they just duplicated his X-chromosome. Making her female also makes sense from a marketing standpoint, making it easier to tell X-23 and Wolverine apart and in a way, protecting Wolverine’s copyright. Sooner or later, someone would make a blatant female rip-off of Wolverine, might as well be Marvel.
While Wolverine and X-23 have the exact same abilities, they have their differences as well. Firstly, while Wolverine has three claws in each hand, X-23 has two in each hand and one in each foot. Her foot claws are primarily used as defensive weapons, as described by her creators.
(Yup, she destroyed Lady Deathstrike, one of the few people Wolverine fears,
in a duel during the Messiah Complex crossover.)
Secondly, while Wolverine's entire skeleton is covered in adamantium, only X-23's claws are covered in it. In a way, that makes her more venerable (she can be decapitated,) but on the other hand she heals noticeably faster than he does, and Wolverine already has one of the fastest healing rates in the Marvel universe. How does that work? Simple, your bones make red blood cells, but since Wolverine’s entire skeleton is covered in metal, his healing factor has to produce the red blood cells instead, always slowing down his healing factor. In addition, Wolverine has to constantly deal with adamantium poisoning, which is always being fought off with his healing factor, further slowing it down. Thirdly, he’s always got 100lbs of foreign material in his body. Since X-23 only has metal claws, her healing factor is only fighting a little bit of adamantium poisoning, so she heals noticeably faster.
(Her escape from the facility, in X-23: Target X)
The biggest difference however, is in their personalities. When it comes to combat, wolverine is basically an animal. While he's one of the most skilled fighters in the Marvel universe, he often resorts to his rage and love for battle more than anything else. X-23 on the other hand, isn't in touch with her emotions and fights more like a machine. While Wolverine will just stab or slash you, X-23 aims for specific targets, like major arteries and organs, or in Lady Deathstrike’s case, her cybernetics. Wolverine's attack plans are often simple, while X-23 is always thinking of multiple ways to kill her targets. Overall, Wolverine is more skilled and dangerous, but since X-23 is a fast learner, she could very well surpass him one day. Her lack of emotion often leads to hilarious deadpan humor as well.
In addition to her different personality, she cannot fall into a berserker rage as easily as Wolverine can and requires a chemical trigger. Every now and then, Wolverine goes berserk and starts destroying everyone in his way. This is when he’s most dangerous, when he attacks his enemies with instinct. As X-23 is far less emotional than he is, she cannot go berserk just like that. When she was still being raised in the facility that made her, they had trouble conditioning her into the weapon they wanted. As such, they created a trigger scent. The scent makes her go berserk and instinctively attack and kill anything that she smells it on. This is how they forced her to kill her sensei and mother. It’s made a few other appearances every now and then, the most epic of which is when she used it to kill an entire group of soldiers after one of her arms was cut off.
Yeah, she’s kind of awesome sometimes.
One could argue that X-23 was created as bait for teenage boys, and in a way she kind of was (X-men: Evolution was a TV show for younger crowds,) but her character and back-story are much deeper than that. She might actually have the saddest, darkest, and most disturbing origin story in the Marvel Universe, and watching her try to discover her humanity is fascinating - especially since her creators handled her very carefully. Also, her current ongoing series is getting better with every issue (so far.) The fact that she's kind of hot probably helped gain her lots of fans, but the fact that she's female has nothing to do with why I like this character. And besides, having a young girl as one of the most skilled fighters in the Marvel Universe is kind of awesome.
(X-23 vs Daken, Wolverine's evil son in X-23 8: Collision part 1)
I’ll try to post a review later this week, but since I’m travelling out of province for a wedding I’m not sure if I can this week. Until then, enjoy.