Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Art team: Juan Cabal, Nolan Woodard, and VC’s Cory Petit
Covers: Mike Choi & Jesus Aburtov
Release Date: 7/11/18
Cover Price: $4.99
Reviewed by: Jon Wayne
When we last saw our favorite sisterly crime-fighting duo, they had saved the world and built a utopian paradise in Madripoor in the storyline “Old Woman Laura,” to end Tom Taylor’s run on All-New Wolverine. That was a very fun arc as it was a beautiful juxtaposition with Old Man Logan’s failings on his world, contrasted with his daughters’ success on “this” world. I was a huge fan of Taylor’s run with Laura and Gabby, and this new X-23 book has been among my most anticipated of the summer. Does Mariko Tamaki get us hooked with this first issue? Let’s find out.
We open with a half page of getting new readers up to speed on our dynamic duo before we’re thrown right into some good action filled pages with some magnificent art by Juan Cabal. He was the artist for an arc or two in All-New Wolverine, and his art is just as good now as it was then. Nolan Woodard’s colors are on point as well, as he gives us a sepia-like vibe to the pages. Tamaki’s work here is pretty good as she’s able to use a generic fight scene to show us that she has a pretty good feel for our main characters right away. You get to see both Laura and Gabby kick ass with their own unique flairs, plus their banter feels natural – especially given this is a new #1, and to my knowledge Tamaki has never written either character.
Then we move on to the Xavier Institute where Laura is meeting with Hank McCoy. We get a bit of heavy-handed exposition, but it only lasts a page or two before we meet the likely antagonists of this first arc, the Cuckoo Sisters! If you’re watching the Gifted (I’m not) they were apparently in the first season, but if you’re not watching the Gifted (like me) then you get a proper introduction to them. They’re clones of Emma Frost with all/most of her abilities, and we find out there used to be five of them. While again this is mostly exposition it is laced with funny Laura and Gabby moments, plus we get to see some parallels between our main characters and the sisters they’ll be squaring off against in this opening arc.
There is good family background stuff going on throughout the arc, and the recurring theme is that of when Laura’s – and by extension, Gabby’s – birthday is (which we learned earlier is tomorrow!). While the Cuckoo sisters debate amongst themselves how to handle a certain issue arising for them. I won’t spoil it here, but you get a sense of where Tamaki is going to take the story. The last 3 or 4 pages are particularly good, and Cabal does some amazing panel work here going back and forth between our sisters and the Cuckoo sisters. It paints the symbolism and the clear parallels between the two families very well, and it was easily my favorite part of the issue.
P.S. Shoot me a tweet @the_jon_wayne if you ever want to talk comics!
Bits and Pieces:
This is definitely a good jumping on point for new readers to Laura and Gabby, and the pieces have been set up for a pretty good story. However, the one thing I really wanted to know going into this was why Laura is back to being known as X-23 when much of her recent history has been about leaving that name behind. Obviously we know that the original Wolverine, Logan, is back and alive in the main Marvel U (though we haven’t seen him properly reunited with his friends and family), so clearly, Laura wouldn’t have that code name anymore. But why back to X-23? I want to know. And if we don’t get an answer, it’ll feel like a pure regression for her character. But this is a #1, more answers will come in time, and I’m fully on board for this run.