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Nov 18

X-23 #6: “Operation Kindergarten Clone”

Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

After the opening arc, time for a palate cleanser.  “Operation Kindergarten Clone” is a single issue story in which Laura and Gabby go undercover in a high school, and hijinks ensue.  Who doesn’t love a good hijink?

If there’s any connection here to the bigger picture, it seems to lie in the fact that Laura is now specialising in hunting down dodgy scientist who are experimenting with mutant clones.  For some reason, somebody at the school has been ordering in genetic research equipment, and the working assumption is that it’s a science teacher trying to get a foothold in the world of supervillainy.  So Gabby is posing as a student and Laura is a track and field coach, and how they managed to get into those positions, look, don’t ask.

The art, by Georges Duartes and colourist Chris O’Halloran, is very nice.  Obviously this sort of story is all about putting the regulars in the real world, and so it’s got to look the part.  And it does, but there’s also some nice pastel colouring that gives it a pleasingly hazy feel.  Still, it’s going for the realistic institutional look, with lots of neat rows of desks and meticulous vanishing points.  The staff room is a bit underdone, with the blank walls, but Laura’s coach look feels right, and the corridor displays feel right.

Thing is… it’s a look that seems to suit a more grounded story.  And this story seems to be conceived mostly as a comedy, with Gabby imagining herself as a spy, and putting a little too much effort into making up the details for her cover identity – all of which is very Gabby, to be sure.

The actual plot is rudimentary.  They think it’s going to be the teacher who has the right initials, but what do you know, it’s actually a kid in the science club.  That’s Suki Callum, who’s seemingly meant to play as a cloying all-pink schoolgirl, while actually being a supervillain in training.  And… that’s pretty much it.  There’s really nothing more to her, and the story isn’t that interested in going beyond the surface.  Cute little girl is supervillain.  So it stands or falls, really, on whether it’s funny – it’s not like anyone’s pretending there’s any great substance here.

Is it funny, then?  Unfortunately, the answer to that one is “not really”.  The basic idea of the villain being another child isn’t that much of a twist when you bear in mind we’ve got Gabby as a co-star here; if the idea is to do some sort of parallel with an evil Gabby, it doesn’t work.  We don’t really spend enough time at school for the culture-clash elements to really go anywhere.  Suki’s a one-note joke, and once she’s exposed, the story runs out of steam badly.  There’s a token fight with a robot to fill out the last third, which I think is meant to play as whacky slapstick, but it really feels like the book is just running through the motions of a final act.

Perhaps a more over the top art style might have worked better here, particularly with the robot fight.  But to be honest, I think I’d rather have read a story that better served the art.  This is just kind of flimsy, and a disappointment given the generally strong opening arc.  There’s really not much here to write about; it’s just a weak issue.

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