‘X-23 Volume 1: The Killing Dream’ review
By Brittney MacDonald, Senior Columnist
A graphic novel written by a woman that features amazing art by Will Conrad should be impressive, but it couldn’t make me see past the large issues I had with the narrative of X-23.
X-23, a.k.a. Laura, is the teenage clone/daughter of Wolverine who was raised in a lab to be the perfect assassin. She escapes and becomes a prostitute, so naturally she has a couple issues. Unfortunately, after some bad leadership decisions from Cyclops, she no longer feels like she belongs with the X-Men. Wanting to come to terms with her past as a killer, as well as discover the identity of the being that’s possessing Wolverine, Laura leaves the X-Men’s new island home. She teams up with fan-favourite Gambit, who, for reasons not revealed in this volume, has taken particular interest in her.
When I first saw the cover art, it reminded me of Empowered, a mix of North American and manga style. But the actual novel art by Conrad is more traditional with heavy inks. The use of fully saturated colour updates the aesthetic feel, making the art more vibrant and modern.
Written by Marjorie Liu, the novel features seven pages of text for backstory that Liu could have worked into the narrative, but chose not to. After overcoming that, which is an annoyance unto itself, the first two-thirds of the novel is just plot-point after plot-point of depression that seems to meander around Laura leaving—until she finally does. The last third of the book after Laura leaves with Gambit is actually good, but the effort it takes to get to that point just isn’t worth it.
I would say avoid this title, unless you’re a diehard X-Men fan with nothing better to do.