X-23 picks up where Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine left off. Laura and Gabby continue their lovable and bizarre partnership in an all-new adventure featuring ten adamantium claws and three Stepford Cuckoos.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
Writer Mariko Tamaki, coming from her She-Hulk run, had pretty big shoes to fill. Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine was a major triump, one of Marvel’s most consistently brilliant books over the last few years. This was the run that introduced Laura’s sisters, her new sidekick sister Gabby, and Jonathan the actual wolverine.
The pressure was on but Tamaki effortlessly grabs the torch from Taylor and runs with it in full sprint. This introductory issue of X-23 doesn’t take time to start from scratch or tramble over what was just an all-time great run with the character. Mariko Tamaki pushes forward and takes it to a new place.
Laura and Gabby are digging into some clone business and cross paths with the Stepford Cuckoos while visiting Beast at the school. This story is monumental for being so deeply involved with cloning multiple characters but not at all being a tough read. Any comic book reader that has read pretty much anything from the 90’s knows how much cloning is too much cloning.
The discussion about birthdays and how clones choose to celebrate them is an interesting one. Tamaki shows she’s bringing something new to the table immediately. She’s also got a great handle on both Laura and Gabby. It’s a huge relief to see how well she writes Honeybadger given that she’s only the second person to get a crack at her after Tom Taylor.
X-23 takes some turns as the story starts to take shape. It was a wise choice to craft a story that is both an X-23 tale and that of the Stepford Cuckoos. The premise should satisfy X-Men die-hards.
Artist Juann Cabal illustrates X-23 with plenty of flair and loads of charm. Laura and Gabby’s facial expressions sell every interaction, Cabal makes it known that we’re in good hands in that department as well. Nolan Woodard’s great color work raises the tempo during action scenes and sets the tonal shifts from scene to scene.
The one downfall of X-23 is costume design. After a few years of Laura in her amazing Wolverine uniforms, this wasn’t going to be the easiest job. It’s not an awful costume, it’s just ultimately a downgrade and a little too busy. The Stepford Cuckoos’ matching outfits were also pretty bland for clones of Emma Frost.
Mariko Tamaki and Juann Cabal show they’re more than capable of continuing to build on what Tom Taylor accomplished. X-23 starts off as a perfect compliment to and evolution of All-New Wolverine. This issue should satisfy Laura’s fans, X-Men fans, and newcomers to the character.