A Beginner's Guide to X-23

Guide to X-23 - Cover
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

With Wolverine’s imminent return on the horizon, his successors are being forced to step aside and relinquish his name and costume. That is the unfortunate source of the conclusion of All-New Wolverine, one of the best X-Men series of the past decade, starring Laura Kinney and her adoptive family of clones, alternate iterations, and a literal wolverine. Luckily, Laura’s solo adventures won’t be ending when Logan officially returns. She will be starring in a new ongoing series starting this week, from writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Juann Cabal, under the classic title of X-23.

Audiences of the X-Men movies know the character of Laura (or X-23) from the movie Logan. It’s a great introduction to the premise, more than enough to get any superhero fan with taste hooked. However, it also isn’t quite enough to catch a new reader up to speed on who Laura is now. That’s why we’ve assembled a quick beginner’s guide for any interested new readers of X-23 #1. Once you find out a bit more about her origins and history, anyone can be excited to check out the new series.

Creation

While X-23 has become a fan-favorite character among X-Men readers, she did not begin her career in comics. In fact, her very first appearance was on the cartoon X-Men: Evolution, where she appeared for two episodes of Season Three. Laura Kinney was created by writer Craig Kyle and co-written by Christopher Yost for her appearances. She was designed to be a mirror reflection of Wolverine, inverting his experience and multi-faceted personality with a lack of both; a child with all of the powers of the adult. Yost has also stated that she played a “Pinocchio” role in the series, wherein she was made to be a weapon, but desired to become something more.

Creators at Marvel Comics, including Yost, quickly recognized the potential in Laura Kinney and decided to integrate her into the canonical stories of the X-Men. She was introduced in NYX #3, written by Joe Quesada with art by Joshua Middleton. This came in 2004, only one year after her debut in X-Men: Evolution. Her initial presence was much more mature, in regards to both sex and violence, than the cartoon version. X-23 was officially part of Marvel Comics, but was already every bit as deadly and disconcerting as the man she was cloned from.

Guide to X-23 - Early Appearance
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Origins

Laura Kinney was created as part of a top secret successor to the original Weapon X program. Scientists managed to obtain a sample of Wolverine’s DNA, but the 23rd chromosome, the one that determines sex, was damaged. One of the team members, Dr. Sarah Kinney, proposed to replace the damaged Y chromosome with another X chromosome, changing the sex of the clone. While she was initially denied, Dr. Kinney pursued her own experiments, and was successful on the 23rd try. Dr. Kinney carried the female Wolverine clone to term, becoming her de facto mother and growing attached to the child she helped create. X-23 had all of Wolverine’s traits, including his healing factor and tracking ability. However, she only had two claws on each hand with a new, third claw on each foot, instead.

The program did not provide much affection for the experimental child named X-23 though. She was subjected to radiation poisoning at age 7 in order to activate her mutant gene and had her claws covered in adamantium soon after. X-23 was also trained to respond to a “trigger scent” that would send her into an animalistic rage, killing any person nearby when the scent was present. Her mother eventually tried to smuggle her away from the facility, but was exposed to this scent before she completed a mission and as a result killed her mother and new family, leaving X-23 entirely alone in the world.

Growing Up

Following her escape from the Facility, X-23 was discovered by Zebra Daddy, a pimp in the mutant neighborhood of New York City called NYX, and forced into prostitution. This was her status quo when she first appeared in NYX #3, but it soon changed after an encounter with the mutant Tatiana Caban reminded X-23 of who she was. In order to defend herself and her new friends, X-23 kills Zebra Daddy and some other criminals in a later incident. It was these murders, featuring Wolverine’s distinctive claws, that first drew the attention of the X-Men.

X-23 was invited to join the Xavier Institute and began to go by the name of Laura Kinney, honoring her mother, more regularly. While a student, she was featured in a variety of adventures, including an instance where she gains the Uni-Power to become Captain Universe and a trip to the Savage Land. Laura was one of the few mutants to retain her powers in the wake of M-Day and became even more prominent in the adventures of the X-Men as a result. It was during this time that she first joined the mutant black ops team of X-Force and played a key role in events like “Necrosha” and “Second Coming.”

Guide to X-23 - Wolverine
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

The Modern Day

After so many teamups and events, Laura had more than earned her place in modern X-Men canon, and joined the team of All-New X-Men when Brian Michael Bendis helmed the titles. It was during this period that she migrated from the anti-hero role of Wolverine and X-Force to become a more typical Marvel superhero. It was also what set her up to take over the role of her genetic predecessor when he was killed.

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Laura put on the classic blue-and-gold costume of Wolverine and adopted his name following “The Death of Wolverine.” It was during this period that she also gained a supporting cast of her own that will likely persist into her new series. Laura found more clones of herself, one of whom survived and took the name Gabby. Gabby began to act as Laura’s ward and adopted an actual wolverine into their home as well, naming it Jonathan. During this period Laura, Gabby, and Jonathan helped to save New York City, Earth, and some universal locales on multiple occasions, making her a permanent fixture in Marvel’s hero scene.

While Laura has elected to abandon her current costume and the name of Wolverine after hearing that Logan has returned from the dead, she won’t be going anywhere as a hero. After 15 years of great comics, Laura Kinney has become an integral member of the X-Men, a beloved family member, and a top-notch superhero. Whether she goes by the name of Wolverine, X-23, or something else altogether, Laura Kinney isn’t going anywhere.