Books: Graphic Novel | Super Hero | X-Men

Innocence Lost (2006), Target X (2007)

The Killing Dream (2011), Chaos Theory (2012), Don't Look Back (2012)

See also: NYX

Innocence Lost (2006) Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Billy Tan, Jon Sibal

I came across X-23 in NYX: Wannabe, and discovered that she had her own story arc. Since I liked the NYX stories so much, I decided to check out Innocence Lost.

I have to say, this was surprisingly good. I've browsed different superhero comics before, and was never that impressed by them. However, like NYX, the story occurs in the same world as X-Men, but is not predicated upon knowing much about the X-Men back story. Instead, you are simply following the story of X-23, a mutant created after the group lost control (and "possession" of) Wolverine.

X-23 is created in a scientific lab after experiments with Wolverine with terribly wrong. The story follows her from the failed experiments to her creation through her training. We also catch glimpses of the pasts of the two scientists most responsible for her creation, and how they came to create X-23.

The storytelling is very very good here. Although the main character is X-23, the point of view is primarily (but not always) from that of Sarah, the scientist. Although there is a "bad guy" in the story, he's not a cardboard cutout of evil, and although he's not as complex as Sarah, he is interesting. In an icky kind of way.

The characters also feel like real people. Not necessarily good people, but they seem to have human reactions–even X-23.

And the art–the art is also extremely well done. Although X-23 is in some places ridiculously skinny, through most of the story she actually looks like a human girl. Yes, of course the women are all to skinny, but they don't feel like caricatures of women, nor do they act like them.

If you are not a big fan of superhero comics (like me) you still should check out X-23, as it's a personal history, rather than the generic good guys going after the generic evil bad guys who are plotting to take over the world.

Target X (2007) Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Mike Choi

I really liked the X-23 comics, but for some reason had only read NYX and Innocence Lost. Target X is the same author and storyline as Innocence Lost. We see what has happened to Laura after her escape, and how she has continued to struggle with her training as a killing machine versus acting as a human teenager.

I possibly should have gone back and read Innocence Lost before rereading Target X simply because I had forgotten a lot about X-23. But that didn't seem to affect how much I enjoyed this story.

X-23–also named Laura–escapes her handlers and is searching for a place to hide and perhaps attempt to become a normal teenager. Unfortunately, danger follows her everywhere, and she leans quickly that for her, no place is safe.

X-23–Laura–is really a heart-breaking character. She wants to much to be normal, but she was raised and conditioned to be a machine–a monster really. A soul-less killing machine (a theme that comes up later).

I really like this collection, and highly recommend it.

Published by Marvel

December 2012 | Rating: 9/10

The Killing Dream (2011) Marjorie Liu, Will Conrad

It's possible I should have paused a bit, between reading X-23: Target X and The Killing Dream, because Target X is really really good.

That's not to say The Killing Dream is bad–it's just not as good as Target X.

Apparently, Things Happened between Target X and The Killing Dream. These things are alluded to, but never quite explained, which was a tad bit frustrating.

I also initially found the story to be a bit confusing–I had a hard time telling what was her dream and what was reality–perhaps that was the point, but if so, I think she recovered a bit too quickly. I also had a hard time relating to some of the characters that were already well-established in the X-Men universe. Wolverine I was okay with, because he's made appearances throughout the X-23 series. But Gambit? The other teen mutants? I felt like I'd come in after the intermission, and no one was going to tell me what was actually going on.

There was, however, a very nice timeline (in the BACK!) that explained some of what you might have missed. Not all of it, but some of it.

I also did not care for the way the female characters were dressed. Why on earth would grown women spend their time wandering around in revealing negliges (or whatever)? That's just STUPID. Isn't this comic supposed to be directed to teenage girls? So what's with the dumb-ass outfits?

All that said, I still enjoyed the story, and X-23 / Laura's struggles to deal with her past and become human rather than the monster / machine she was created to be are amazing to read.

Published by Marvel

December 2012 | Rating: 7/10

Chaos Theory (2012) Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda, Phil Noto

What could this be? Why, it's a new volume of X-23!

This wasn't bad, but it's still nowhere near as good as Craig Kyle's take on X-23 in Innocence Lost and Target X.

The first half of this volume is very good–X-23/Laura continues to struggle with her past and how continues to shape who she has become. I thought this story arc was very good.

The second story arc involves Spiderman and the Fantastic Four and … whatever. I just didn't care.

I also don't love X-23′s "uniform." I at least understand her outfits (something that was actually addressed in the first story arc), but a tank top as part of her uniform. Bletch.

I read that Vol 3 is the last volume (for now) of X-23. We'll see how I feel about that after I read it.

Published by Marvel

December 2012 | Rating: 7/10

Don't Look Back (2012) Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda, Phil Noto

This is (apparently [at least for now]) the conclusion to Laura's story arc.

The first part of the story–pretty much ‘Adventures in Babysitting' with X-23 I really could have one without. It felt like they needed to shoehorn some action adventure in, instead of just letting Laura deal with her relationships with Hellion and Gambit and Wolverine. I realize that comics are expected to be action adventure–especially Marvel comics–but this arc simply felt ridiculous.

But, I was glad to see the story arc through–to see X-23 doing what she wanted to do instead of what she was told.

One other thing–what on EARTH is that cover about? It doesn't seem to be related to actual events, which is just… weird.

Published by Marvel

December 2012 | Rating: 7/10