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May 31

X-23 #11-12: “Dear Gabby”

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

We’re heading for another reboot of the whole line, then.  The second-tier titles may have continued alongside “Age of X-Man”, but we’re starting from scratch when Jonathan Hickman arrives, with just the X-Men for a while.  This explains a lot about the clumsy return of Wolverine, which exists simply to tie up a loose end and get him on the board again, not to relaunch a solo series.

Normally I might be annoyed at losing decent second-tier titles, but the reality is that few creative teams stick around for more than a year anyway, so it’s not as if anything seems to be cut short.  It’s probably a smart move to cut the line to a core title, instead of diluting it with a sprawling line, even though chances are we’ll be back to typical numbers in six months.  The X-books could use a grand gesture if they want to be seen as a big deal again.

In the meantime, a parade of final arcs lumbers towards me for review.  This two-parter wraps up Mariko Tamaki’s run on X-23.

Tamaki didn’t exactly tell a single story over her twelve issues, so she doesn’t have a finale in that sense.  But she did introduce a status quo of sorts, with Laura and Gabby focussing on hunting down people who were messing about with dodgy cloning.  It’s a sort of combined Laura/Gabby set-up, which followed through into the “X-Assassin” story that wheeled on a horde of mass-produced Lauras.  A big theme of Tamaki’s run, then, is identity: what makes Laura and Gabby different from one another, and – if their identity is indeed more than just their DNA – how they ought to feel about the fact that there are other copies of them out there.  Laura tends to distance herself from them; Gabby persists in trying to see them as sisters.

All that builds to the conflict between Laura and Gabby in these two issues.  The death of the X-Assassins leads Laura to redouble her efforts to wipe out any more potential clones before they go anywhere.  These clones are a perversion of her.  Gabby, on the other hand, responds to the mass death of the X-Assassins by wanting to see more clones, and setting out to rescue what she thinks is a potential set of new Lauras.

Diego Olortegui and Walden Wong’s art is good stuff.  It’s good clean lines with a pretty strong flow to it, dynamic on the action scenes, lots of personality, good sense of location – what more do you want, really?  And it strikes the right tone for the climax here, which needs to be an action scene, a comedy anticlimax and an emotional hook at the same time.

While the actual plot of this two-parter is very understated – but it’s a satisfying resolution to the running theme of how Gabby and Laura feel about their clones, with the differing attitudes coming to a head here.  As it turns out, what Gabby is chasing down is a decidedly more mundane and agricultural application for their DNA – to the point where you really have to wonder why so much effort is being put into guarding it, other than that the genre conventions require a fight scene.

But the anticlimax works.  It’s ridiculous to have Laura and Gabby wrap up their series by squabbling over farm animals, but at the same time it plays into the argument.  Gabby’s obvious desire to find a way of seeing these things as her sisters is ludicrous but quietly tragic at the same time.  Yet Laura’s assumption that any more clones are going to be beleaguered monsters was always dubious when Gabby is standing right there, a point Laura clearly chooses to ignore (and the story smartly avoids ever foregrounding this point).  And whatever else these things are, they’re neither monsters nor suffering.  They’re just farm animals.

It’s an unusual way of ending a series, but it pays off.  A strong finish.

Bring on the comments

  1. SanityOrMadness says:

    No comment on the bland new codename Gabby takes at the end?

  2. SanityOrMadness says:

    (Also, Hickman’s explicit that the usual crapton of books will follow HoX/PoX, spinning out of them to varying extents, with him writing the “flagship”. It’s *just* for the duration of HoX/PoX they’re cutting the line back so hard.)

  3. Ben says:

    Good run on the book, sad to see it end for another crossover and whatever weird shit Hickman is going to do.

    Bummer this is probably the end of the Laura/Gabby book run, I doubt they’re getting a book post Whatever of X.

    And yes, Scout is a huge downgrade from Honey Badger.

  4. Moo says:

    Scout? Is she selling cookies now?

  5. Taibak says:

    Scout? Is there anyway that can be hammered into a To Kill A Mockingbird reference that’s still in good taste?

  6. Ben says:

    To Kill a Honey Badger.

  7. Chris V says:

    She’s going to reveal that she’s really an Apache man from a dystopian future North America.

  8. Si says:

    Wolverine cows? Like you can cut off their legs for meat and they grow new ones? “I’m the best there is at what I moo”?

    I don’t know, I like X-23, but I do wish people would stay away from the clone stories. They’re worse than time travel stories.

  9. Good luck cutting the leg off a Wolverine cow, it has an adamoontium skeleton.

  10. JCG says:

    Both Wolverine clones and Time travel along with alternate timeline characters are two overplayed X-Men concepts.

    The difference is that the former is still popular.

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