It's been widely noted that X-23 and Ghost Rider are the only remaining Marvel Comics with solo female leads and that both titles are getting canceled in the near future.
I haven't been keeping up with Ghost Rider, but X-23 has been a fun book and it will be a shame to lose this one. Marjorie Liu has done a lot to advance Laura (aka X-23) as a character.
X-23 #19 wraps up a three issue story featuring Laura as the babysitter for Franklin and Valeria Richards of the FF, with Laura's sometimes love interest, Hellion along for the ride. Last issue ended with the trio plus one as captives of the Collector, with Franklin and Valeria trapped outside of his spaceship. In this issue, Laura and Hellion enlist the Elder to help them save the children, but is the Collector going to betray them?
Of course he is.
For all of the Collector's bluster, he's never been that much of a threat and it's not a big spoiler to say that X-23 and her friends don't end up as permanent additions to his collection. And the Collector's part in the story is over fairly quickly. The fun of this issue comes from the way that X-23 throws herself into saving the Richards' children and the real affection that Franklin and Valeria have for her. Those feelings for Laura also seem to come from Reed and Sue Richards as well; which serves as another reminder of how the FF differs from the X-Men. Among the mutants, Laura is an outcast; but the FF treats her like family. It's a nice touch and it builds on the earlier FF story in X-23.
But the real highlight of this issue is the artist, Sana Takeda; who has a Manga-inspired style that seems to mesh really well with X-23 and the relatively lighter story of this issue. I'd love to see Takeda on a book like Wolverine and the X-Men. She's got the talent to be on a top tier title and that book could use an upgrade on art.
The only false note in this issue is the resolution of the relationship between Laura and Hellion. Up to that point, Liu made Hellion a lot more heroic and human than he usually seems. But once Laura makes her feelings known, Hellion gets a little emo and he slips back into jerk mode. The disappointing aspect of that was Laura's reaction; which came off as too robotic and it seemed to ignore the development she's had in this book. A non-response may have worked for X-23 in the past, but Laura is a person with passion and she should have shown some in that scene.
It seems like a waste to wrap up a long-running subplot in such an awkward and hasty way. It may have been written that way because Liu is trying to clear the decks for X-23 before the book goes away for good. But that still felt out of character for Laura.
Regardless, X-23 #19 is still a pretty good issue and well worth checking out just for the art alone. If the series wasn't coming to an end soon, I think that X-23 could have eventually built up an audience for her ongoing solo adventures.
But unfortunately, this book is just about out of time.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5/10