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Modern X-Men Read-Through: X-23: The Start of a New Adventure

In addition to my Star Wars read-through, I'm slowly working my way through three sets of X-Men comics:
  • Comics from 2008 and later (which I'm referring to as "modern" in this blog);
  • Comics from the 1990s and eventually early 2000s; and
  • Comics being discussed on the Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast (which I will not be writing about).
The 90s read-through began years ago.  I've previously read through storylines such as Fatal Attactions, Bloodties, Phalanx Covenant, the Wedding of Cyclops of Phoenix, Legionquest, and Age of Apocalypse, as well as the Road to Onslaught. I've also read Warren Ellis's Excalibur run (issues 83-98 so far) and much of Generation X (1-17 so far) and Wolverine from this era (87-100), as well as several solo series that I wrote about here.  I'm currently working on the Onslaught event.

When the Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast reads a book that I already own (which is happening more and more frequently), I will read the story before I listen to the show.  The podcast becomes a book club.  I won't write about these unless the story is fantastic and worth covering in more detail.

I've been doing my modern read-through for a few years now too.  I began with the Messiah CompleX crossover and began going through other stories in a rough chronological order, and re-read some of them for my X-23 posts (see here, here and here).  I started the blog when I had finished reading 2010's Curse of the Mutants story and the first arcs of Uncanny X-Force and Generation Hope.  When I got to X-23, I opted to read all of that character's earlier stories first (see here and here).  But now I'm caught up and diving back in with the following:
I read these in the X-23 Complete Collection Volume 1 (issues 1-3 and the To Serve and Protect story) and Volume 2 (issues 4-7 and the Road to Hell story).  

Cover of X-23 Complete Collection Volume 2.  Image from Amazon.ca.

Plot:

The first story sees Laura in New York reuniting with her runaway friends from the NYX book, as she is taunted by the villainous Gamesmaster.  She manages to escape him, but his motivations remain unknown.

In X-23 1-3 ("The Killing Dream"), a demon takes the shape of Wolverine and tries to convince Laura to kill for him.  As a favour to her, he casts out the Gamesmaster, still hiding in her head.  She resists his pull and fights him off in her dreamscape, but she has been made to understand that the other X-Men are judging her for her past actions (especially her recent actions as a killer in X-Force).  She also starts to wonder whether, as a manufactured person, she has a soul.

Cover of X-23 one-shot.  Image from Marvel Wiki.


Finally, in X-23 4-7 (Songs of the Orphan Child), Laura and Gambit are drawn to a secret underground facility run by Miss Sinister (a woman who contained the memories and spirit of X-Men villain Nathaniel Essex aka Mr. Sinister, who occasionally tries to assert himself in her body).  While she claims to have pure motives, she is actually using Essex's biotech equipment to transfer her own identity to Laura's body (thus leaving her original body to be taken over by Essex.)  Unfortunately, Essex himself takes over Laura's body, though Laura manages to force him out.  Essex manages to escape to a different body (a cloned test subject that drew Laura to there in the first place), but X-23 and Gambit destroy the lab and starts to track Malcolm Colcord, who wants to use Sinister's vast stores of information to recreate the Weapon X Program.  She tracks Colcord to the island nation of Madripoor, defeating some pirates along the way.

Thoughts:

First, I'm glad to get back into reading modern X-Men comics.  It has been too long since I paused to read other things.  I've never read these X-23 books, so I'm coming at them fresh, as if they are new.

The first stories of the X-23 ongoing series have me hooked.  In particular, I sense the thread line of whether or not she has a soul will be important throughout the series.  I think that's an interesting area to focus on, and I hope it remains a prominent element in the story.

Cover of X-23 #1.  Image from Marvel Wiki.

The Complete Collection Volume 1 included a page summarizing what happened to Laura during her time in New X-Men and X-Force, but I'm glad I read those books myself.  Not only were they good books, but they helped give a complete picture of X-23 going into her solo story.  For example, the start of X-23 #1 features many of the young X-Men, her former teammates, being either supportive or judgmental after it was revealed she was on the X-Force kill squad.  How she related to characters like Surge, Dust, Hellion, Rockslide, Anole, and others informs their reaction in this story.

I'm wondering if the plan for this book is to be "X-23  Team-Up."  Issues 1-3 sees her largely alone, but having a lot of conversations with Storm.  Issues 4-7 involve her teaming up with Gambit.  I know from cover art that she'll later work with Jubilee.  This is not a bad thing; it's good to see how these characters relate with others.  I'm particularly enjoying the currently-published Jean Grey solo series, in which she has teamed up with a new person every issue, with interesting results.  If the X-23 ongoing series ends up similar, then I hope she teams up with a variety of cool people.

Cover of X-23 #6, depicting X-23 and Gambit falling to Miss Sinister.  Image from Marvel Wiki.


Next: 

The next item on my Modern X-Men Read-Through is Wolverine (by Jason Aaron) 1-9!  As I did with my Star Wars books, I'm making some X-Men Reading Order pages that will appear to the right.




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