X-23: Innocence Lost by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost

I’ve been on a late oughts X-Force kick, lately. That run has been my comic book introduction to X-23, aka Laura. (If you’ve seen the movie Logan, Laura is the lil’ Wolverine. That was my first encounter with the character.) The Laura character is terrifying and hilarious in X-Force. She’s so efficiently brutal that you always wonder whether she’s a judgment call away from hacking into pieces a character you like. Kind of weird vibe for a teammate. She’s funny in the way Guardians of the Galaxy’s Drax is funny – a deadly fish out of water. The character is also profoundly sad.

Laura is sad herself because of what she’s had to go through since her birth. The readers are sad because as humans not trained to be killers, we realize how much of life and childhood Laura has missed and can never reclaim. That being said, there’s a resilience to the character beyond her physical healing ability. Maybe she can be human. That’s why you root for her. You want her to have a good day because she deserves one.

This book, now more than a decade old, explains the origins and context from which Laura emerged. While it is a typical X-Men story in that mutants are dehumanized and exploited by humans, it’s also an interesting study in determinism and free will. The arcs of three characters show what we can do with the circumstances we’re given. Some people follow their path, others buck, and some can transcend.

The art wasn’t my favorite, and the plot was a little paint-by-numbers, but Laura herself and the interesting philosophical ideas touched upon made this a book worth reading if you liked Logan and want more Laura.