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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Comic Book Review: X-23 - Innocence Lost

Story by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
Art by Billy Tan
X-23 created by Craig Kyle
Published by Marvel Comics (2006)
144 pages

X-23. The Wolverine-type mutant girl we see now in some of the X-Men books. I hardly knew this character before and I felt like Wikipedia wasn't enough. So I got this book which narrates the the complete origin story of X-23. Of how she came to be, and what she really is.

The story background focuses on the aim of a top secret organization: replicating the Weapon X gene that created former escapee and now X-Man, "Wolverine" in order to form the "perfect assassin". One of the country's best geneticists - Dr. Sarah Kinney - is recruited with the hopes of creating an male embryo that would carry on the gene.

The task proved to be difficult and almost impossible, as every attempt of creating a male embryo failed. That's when Sarah Kinney stepped up and suggested creating a female "Wolverine" duplicate... with herself as the surrogate mom (after being forced by the program directors herself to volunteer).  Eventually, she finally gives birth to X-23 and that's when the story of this poor character begins.

For the sake of not spoiling the whole story for you, I will stop right there and tell you no more. But the whole premise of X-23 is not that hard to grasp. Its all about a mother's pure love for her daughter and the pains of a young child subjected to immense torture and isolation as part of stripping of whatever is left of her "humanity" in order to become the ultimate killing machine.

Its a very dark and tragic story consisting multiple and complex plotlines mixed with a lot of bloody action. Not to mention the bittersweet and disheartening end that would still haunt you after turning the book's last page. 

I would like to point out that the main reason why this whole story works is probably because of Craig Kyle's brilliant villain: Dr. Zander Rice. This bastard is probably one of the sickest, and evil of all the villains I have encountered in comic books so far. And he is not even a superhuman or a mutant, but an ordinary, cocky doctor who will stop at nothing to gain control and power. The fact that he is an "everyday guy" makes him more of a great character who actually did wonders for this book. Trust me, you'll find your blood boiling as soon as the events unfold with this guy. 

Billy Tan's art in this project was something that I didn't really dig in, though for some reason, his anime-style  illustrations and sharp lines worked out due to his cinematic style sequences.  He could have used a more realistic approach to make this even better, but that minor flaw is not a big of a deal to make you put this book down. 

X-23 Innocence Lost is true to its title: a haunting and disturbing story of how an innocent human being is forced into becoming a cold-blooded killer, with no trace of how it is to be a human at all. Its one of the best books I have read in a while and definitely one of Marvel's best too, thanks to Craig Kyle's narrative.

And if you if you think you know (or knew) X-23's story... think again, because you haven't scratched the surface until you read this. Recommended to any X-Men fanatic and to the casual comic book fan clawing their way through piles of comics in search of a very good one.

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