Writer: Christopher Yost
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inks: Jonathan Sibal
What's it about?
X-23 was going to be a clone of Wolverine, but when the scientists tried to copy the only DNA sample they had, they discovered the Y part of his XY chromosome was damaged beyond repair. One scientist, Sarah Kinney, decided to strip out the Y chromosome and copy the X. So X-23 was created, more of a twin than a clone.
She has Wolverine's healing factor, she has his claws, his sense of smell and sad to say, his experience of horror and abuse. For X-23 is created in a lab to be the perfect weapon. Trained to fight and injure and kill from a young age, from the age of 12 she is sent out on assassination missions as a killer for hire. Innocence Lost is the story of her creation, her upbringing and her fight to break free of the system.
What's good about it?
She's a tough old cookie is our X-23. She wasn't brought up in isolation from other people, but she has a sense of seclusion around her, likely because those who have trained her and kept her in the lab refer to her as a beast and not human.
If you ever wanted a female Wolverine, this is it. Although I should be clear that she isn't a carbon copy of the male character - she is undoubtedly a different entity, although her skills and background are similar.
This is a classic story of the child warrior, abused by those in charge of her, who nonetheless keeps a shred of her humanity and manages to break out and find her own way in the world. It's not startlingly original, but it is well enough crafted and the ending does pull at your heartstrings a little. It's a good way to while away an hour or so.
As I said above, it's not a startlingly original tale. There are a lot of common tropes within the story and you can guess the ending a mile off. However, I don't think the pleasure in it lies in the (un)surprising events, more in the glimpses into a mysterious character's past. So it's an OK read. Not brilliant, but would suit someone who fancies getting background detail or an easy step into the darker side of Marvel mutant universe.
What's the art like?
Some of the art is a bit plasticky and by the numbers. The artist is clearly going for some sort of sexy look for the women and men but often they look a bit vacant. However, it's not exploitative as such, just a bit average. X-23 always looks likes a child as well, which is nice.
Given that X-23 is a killer for hire it is quite violent, there's a lot of blood and fights but it's not over the top and it's not slasher porn.
To continue X-23's story, read X-23: Target X (this has one of the fiercest covers I've seen in a long time) and then X-23 volume 1: The Killing Dream. You can also buy these issues as digital copies on Comixology. If stories about child assassins who are basically good at heart float your boat, you could also try reading Batgirl: Silent Running.