Publication Date: 30th Jan 2020
Image Work: Gremlin.


The history of X-23 begins years before her conception. Her origins date back to the Weapon X facility responsible for bonding Adamantium to the Canadian mutant code-named Wolverine. The bonding process drove Wolverine into a blind berserker rage, during which he fought his way to freedom. During his rampage, most of the Weapon X staff were slaughtered. Among them was Dr. Dale Rice, part of the scientific team overseeing the creation of Weapon X. Unbeknownst to his employers, Rice was actually a spy working for an outside group. He fled the Weapon X laboratories with genetic samples from Wolverine but was gutted by Logan. The samples were damaged in the attack but recovered by Dr. Martin Sutter who was working with Rice. Dr. Sutter delivered the tragic news of Rice's death to his young son Zander and presented him with his father's dog tags. Sutter raised Zander Rice as if he were his own son.

Years later, Dr. Sutter founded a scientific think tank called The Facility. Recreating the Weapon X project was one of the Facility's chief endeavors. Zander Rice was now a scientist himself and head of operations at the Facility. Rice was placed in charge of the efforts to re-create Weapon X. This project was hindered due to a lack of suitable subjects who could survive the Adamantium bonding process. Looking for a fresh approach to the problem, Dr. Sutter hired renowned geneticist Dr. Sarah Kinney to spearhead a new effort to create a clone from the damaged DNA samples supplied by Rice's father. Kinney relished the scientific challenge with little regard for the moral compromises the work required.

After numerous failed attempts to rebuild the damaged Y chromosome of the DNA sample, Dr. Kinney devised a simple solution that would enable them to move forward with their cloning efforts: duplicate the intact X chromosome and create a fully viable female clone. Ultimately, Sutter and Rice refused to let Dr. Kinney pursue the female specimen, but she did so anyway. She continued to work on a solution for the male specimen, while conducting secret trials on a female clone. Her twenty-third attempt to create a viable female embryo proved successful and she presented her results to Sutter and Rice. Rice was enraged but, when faced with the choice between a viable female subject now or a viable male subject in a decade, Dr. Sutter chose to approve Sarah's plan. As revenge for Sarah's constant undermining of his authority, Zander chose her to serve as the child's surrogate mother. He threatened to shut her project down completely if she didn't agree.

Dr. Kinney was now a living part of the project, subject to Dr. Rice's constant poking and prodding. Every aspect of her life was regulated by a team of nutritionists, psychologists and military strategists hired by the Facility to forge this unborn child into the ultimate weapon. However, Dr. Kinney's rebellious nature remained. When she was supposed to be reading The Art of War to the unborn X-23, she would sneak in snippets of Pinocchio. Nine months later, Sarah Kinney gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Even at birth, her mutation was apparent. Two tiny claws could be seen protruding from between her knuckles. [X-23 (1st series) #1]

X-23 was raised with one goal in mind: to forge her into a deadly weapon. She was kept in a colorless and sterile environment and schooled in disciplines and skillsets that would aid her in becoming a lethal tool for the Facility. In addition to martial arts and weapon training, she was taught a broad variety of languages and other skills that might prove useful during her future missions. Dr. Sarah Kinney was allowed to stay on at the Facility, though her role was severely diminished. She was allowed to have limited, supervised contact with X-23, only because it was believed this would assist in X-23's development and strengthen the program's control over her through her "mother." Control was paramount and efforts were made to prevent X-23 from developing a sense of self. She was never treated as a child, only as a weapon. By age seven, she was in peak physical condition and training in combat with a sensei named Tanaka. Despite strict orders, Sarah secretly continued to read Pinocchio to X-23 when she could. Similarly, Tanaka could not help but take pride in his new pupil's accomplishments and showed her both encouragement and kindness.

When X-23 was seven years old, Dr. Rice began efforts to create a "trigger scent" as a means of sending X-23 into a berserker rage on command. By the time she was eight, Rice was ready to test this chemical trigger. X-23 was regularly tortured using near drowning and electro-shock in conjunction with the specially designed scent. Zander Rice took extreme pleasure in seeing the clone of the mutant who killed his father demeaned and subjected to unbearable pain. This conditioning lasted for three years, at which time a physical motivator was no longer needed to reinforce the effect of the trigger scent. A single whiff of this compound would send X-23 into a blind, murderous rage. [X-23: Target X #3]

Despite X-23's developing physical skills, Dr. Rice was eager to push her development further. When she was close to twelve years old, he proposed that they proceed immediately with their plan to bond her claws with Adamantium rather than wait until her mutant abilities manifested. Dr. Kinney argued against this but Zander was persistent. He was given clearance to force the premature manifestation of X-23's powers by whatever means necessary. He exposed X-23 to high levels of lethal radiation which forced her healing factor to activate far earlier than expected. Her claws also sprang forth as her body fought off the radiation poisoning. Driven by a twisted desire for vengeance against the true Weapon X, Rice treated X-23 like an animal and took every possible opportunity to dehumanize and torment her. He wasted no time in taking this torture to a new level. He succeeded in persuading Dr. Sutter to approve his plan to remove X-23's claws, sharpen them and coat them in Adamantium despite Sarah Kinney's protests. He performed the surgery single-handedly with no anesthesia. Despite her obvious terror and what must have been excruciating pain, X-23 physically recovered almost immediately. [X-23 (1st series) #2]

Rice's cruelty knew no bounds and he devised yet another means of controlling X-23. He discovered a bitter and sadistic woman named Kimura and used The Facility's resources to make her impervious to all harm. She was the perfect handler for X-23 - hard, cruel, ruthless and eager to mete out punishment on the poor girl whenever she stepped out of line. Most importantly, her impervious skin made X-23's claws and fighting skills useless against her. This introduced yet another element of control to X-23's already regimented life: fear. [X-23: Target X #4]

Now that her claws were coated with Adamantium, the Facility was eager to put their new weapon to use. Before they could do so, they needed to test the effectiveness of the trigger scent designed to send X-23 into a blind, murderous rage. Rice had the perfect test subject in mind to truly gauge the trigger scent's power - X-23's sensei, Tanaka. A few drops of the chemical applied to the hilt of Tanaka's sword proved sufficient. The instant X-23 smelled the trigger scent, she lost all semblance of control. She woke from this animal rage to find herself covered in blood. At her feet was Tanaka, one of only two people in the world who had ever treated her as more than a mere weapon. [X-23 (1st series) #2]


X-23 was now ready for active assignments. In order to properly advertise her skills, The Facility selected a very secure and high profile target for X-23's first official kill. Dressed a young girl with metal leg braces, X-23 easily slipped inside a political rally for Greg Johnson, a contender for President of the United States. Her seemingly harmless appearance made it child's play for X-23 to enter the event. Once inside, she asked to meet the candidate and when she was initially refused she threw a major tantrum. This brought her to the attention of Johnson's wife, who shrewdly saw a prime photo op of the presidential candidate reaching out to a physically challenged young supporter. X-23 was escorted to a private gathering with Johnson and his entourage. Once the cameras flashed, she sprung into action. Before anyone realized what was happening, she slaughtered Johnson, his family and every person in the room, including his security detail.

Escaping the scene proved just as easy for X-23. She hid herself among the corpses of her victims. Having received intel regarding a possible assassination attempt, Captain America was on the scene and responded to the crisis. He found X-23 and naturally assumed that the young girl with the leg braces was the only survivor of this massacre. He personally carried her out of the carnage and placed her in the care of paramedics before continuing his search for the killer. X-23 killed the paramedics and successfully escaped capture. As a result of this encounter, Captain America grew to feel personally responsible for the many subsequent killings that X-23 performed for her masters at The Facility. [X-23 (1st series) #2, X-23: Target X #2]

This initial assassination led to a very prosperous launch of X-23's career as an assassin-for-hire. The Facility immediately received numerous requests for her services from crime lords and super-villains alike. Her going rate was $50 million and her services were billed as "Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime." One of her first assignments was on behalf of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. She eliminated his super-powered rival known as Fade. Her subsequent targets included royalty, mob bosses, drug lords, dictators, even other assassins. Her successful run as a killer lasted for three years. She completed every kill and every deadline set for her without fail. This angered Zander Rice, who still harbored deep resentment for X-23. He would manufacture reasons for her to be punished by Kimura just to torment the girl. [X-23 (1st series) #3-4]