X-23 has been a stellar run thus far, finding its success in the centralization of sisters Laura and Gabby’s relationship. This focus has brought a poignant sense of realism to the series, one that exemplifies the idea that ties between individuals run deeper than blood. X-23 #3 continues developing those thematic elements as well as new challenges that have arisen for Laura and Gabby.

Unfortunately for them, their relationship has recently become threatened by another set of siblings. The Cuckoos are on a dark mission to bring their lost sisters back to life, and part of that plan is to sabotage Laura and Gabby for good.

Whether or not the sisters’ fates have been sealed remains to be seen.

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X-23 #3 page 1. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

A New Era of Cuckoos

X-23 #3 kicks off with our titular hero pursuing a van that she believes is transporting Gabby to a facility where the Cuckoos will execute some sort of deadly experiment. When Laura finally stops the van, she comes to discover that it was a trap with Gabby nowhere in sight.

Meanwhile, the Cuckoos are preparing to use Gabby as a host of some sort to displace the consciousness of their fallen sisters into an existing lifeform called “grafting.” They are ultimately able to accomplish this with the assistance of Dr. Marks, a character Laura vigorously interrogates about the Cuckoos’ plans. After the interrogation, Laura receives a distress signal from Gabby. With the help of Angel, she manages to find Gabby, but when she does, the Cuckoos immediately begin the grafting process, leaving Gabby’s fate unknown.

A Cluster of Clones in X-23 #1

X-23 #3 picks up the pace the series has been slow to move so far. This ultimately contributes to a dynamic, thrilling issue that never misses a beat. Additionally, Gabby continues serving as the series’ comic relief, breaking moments of great intensity and keeping the energy of the work up.

Most importantly though, X-23 #3 doesn’t lose sight of its central point: Laura and Gabby’s relationship. Despite the fact that the majority of the issue separates the two, the narrative continues to flesh out the two’s relationship. Thus, X-23 #3 is another bold, fantastic entry into writer Mariko Tamaki’s series, solidifying yet another memorable moment in Laura Kinney’s history.

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X-23 #3 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Many Hues of X-23 #3

From X-23 #3’s first page to its last, the artwork maintains consistently intricate and clean qualities. Firstly, Juann Cabal’s penciling is exceptional. I particularly enjoy his work on the first page that depicts a flashback to the death of one of Laura’s clones, Zelda. Cabal forces you to engage with the image of her lifeless body as he descends into the image then rapidly transitions it into an action sequence. Despite the unexpected juxtaposition between those two sequences, Cabal smoothly ties them together.

He tells his own parallel story in his artwork, and that elevates the quality of X-23 #3 even more.

The Female Body, Cloning, and (Bio)terrorism in X-23: INNOCENCE LOST

Also, this issue features some unique distributions of panels in some pages. For example, when Dr. Marks is explaining the grafting process to Laura, Cabal presents us with an image of what that process may look like. He depicts a large image of human anatomy. However, that image is broken down by panels that decrease in size as they descend the page.

Though this may seem like a small detail, elements such as these give more of a dynamic energy to the comic. They render more originality that truly moves me to appreciate an issue such as this one even more.

So, once again, the artwork of X-23 hits it out of the park.

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X-23 #3 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

What Lies Beyond

The ending of X-23 #3 is undoubtedly a shocking one. Whether or not Gabby will survive her current predicament remains to be seen. Whether or not the Cuckoos will persist as the antagonists of this series also remains to be seen. The stakes of X-23 have skyrocketed.

Laura is pushing herself to her limits in order to save her sister.

Unfortunately for her, those efforts may simply not be enough.

X-23 #3 by Mariko Tamaki, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, & Cory Petit
X-23 #3 excels in its speedy pace and terrifying developments, ultimately establishing a cohesive and stellar issue.
90 %
a fast-paced thrill ride
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