X-23: Page 5 of 11

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


Though previously defeated, Bastion soon returned and used a modified version of the techno-organic virus to resurrect a number of anti-mutant leaders. One of these was the Leper Queen, who launched a new campaign to foment anti-mutant sentiment using an upgraded version of the Legacy Virus that caused the powers of those mutants infected with it to flare up uncontrollably, turning them into living bombs. Along with the rest of X-Force, X-23 was ordered to find and kill the Leper Queen, a mission which became personal for X-23 when the Leper Queen kidnapped Hellion and Surge. X-Force located the Leper Queen in her base and cornered her as she goaded them by holding a needle to Boom Boom’s neck. Before they could kill her or rescue their friends, however, the team was suddenly teleported away by Cyclops on a mission to the future. [X-Force (3rd series) #12-13]

Hours before, Cyclops had given every member of X-Force a device that would transport them to the future once Cable and the baby were located. When Cyclops found them and activated the devices, X-23 and X-Force were transported to a dystopian landscape in the year 2973 where they had 32.5 hours to find Cable and to kill Bishop, who was trying to kill the baby. They managed to locate Cable and the baby, now a young girl named Hope, but they also discovered that they couldn’t travel back in time, as there was something inhibiting their devices. X-23 was among those tasked with resolving the time travel problem and was surprised to discover the source of the problem was actually a future version of her old friend, Kiden Nixon. Enslaved long ago and being forced to use her time manipulation powers, Kiden begged her friend to end her misery but X-23 stalled, having trouble killing a friend. In the end, the decision was taken out of her hands by Domino, who shot Kiden. [Messiah War crossover]

With Cable and Hope safe and the time distortion lifted, some of the team activated their devices and returned to the present in a bid to save Hellion and Surge. X-23 arrived in the present a mere 1.3 seconds after she left. As she re-materialized, she shot the Leper Queen who was about to execute Boom Boom. A moment later, however, the effects of time travel caught up with her and X-23 passed out, leaving her unconscious when agents of H.A.M.M.E.R. stormed the warehouse. Led by Agent Morales, who had been tasked with finding out who caused the deaths of the Purifiers that X-Force had killed during their search for Wolfsbane, the agents had finally tracked her down and now turned her over to Agent Young, who had been search for X-23 specifically for some time. X-23 was flown to Pennsylvania, where she was greeted by Kimura and Dr. Harkins. Agent Young also revealed that he didn’t work for H.A.M.M.E.R, but was working for the Facility which was keen on having X-23 returned to them. X-23 was taken to a cell where the vengeful Kimura immediately used a chainsaw to chop off her left arm. Fortunately for X-23, Morales, who was also being held there, managed to break free and save X-23 before Kimura could do too much damage.

Still stuck in the Facility, X-23 and Morales found themselves trapped in a room filled with canisters of X-23’s trigger scent. With soldiers outside the door, X-23 made the decision to hook the canisters up to the sprinkler system and, after removing the two claws from her severed arm and giving them to Morales for safe keeping, she set off the sprinkler system, soaking everyone in the Facility with the trigger scent. When the soldiers broke into the room, they were slaughtered by X-23, who then made her way to Dr. Harkins. Before she could kill him, however, water surged through the sprinklers, washing the trigger scent away. Kimura got the jump on X-23 but, once again, Laura was saved by Morales, who set Kimura on fire and then blew up the whole building. Once outside, X-23 broke down in tears, realizing that Kimura would never give up torturing her and killing her friends. Morales was shocked by the number of people X-23 had killed over the years but, seeing how she was forced to do it, she found sympathy for the girl. She told X-23 she was going to wipe all the records of her to give her a chance. She gave X-23 her claws back and the X-Men soon came to retrieve her. [X-Force (3rd series) #17-20]

X-23 had her claws reattached but, due to the extensive trauma, she remained in the X-Men’s medical bay in Utopia for some time. She aided X-Force when Selene tried to ascend to the level of a true goddess and sprang into action when the forces of Bastion threatened Utopia in his quest to destroy Hope and all of mutantkind. [Necrosha and Second Coming crossovers]

During the clash with Bastion, the secret of X-Force was revealed to the other X-Men and the team was immediately disbanded. However, Wolverine decided there was still a need for such a team and reformed it secretly, though he purposefully left X-23 off the roster. He believed that she had been taking orders from other people her whole life and it was time for her to follow her own path. Though both of them found their relationship to be a challenging one, over time they had grown closer. Wolverine even offered to adopt X-23 as his daughter so that she could have a father. [X-23 (2nd series) #2]

When a number of former mutants started disappearing, X-23 went along with Wolverine and Jubilee to help. After picking up a familiar scent in an ally, she left her allies and tracked the scent to a rooftop where she found Kiden Nixon and the rest of the gang from the days she lived on the streets. Though she didn’t approach them at first, as she believed she was too dangerous for them to be around, it was Kiden who found her and convinced her to join them for a while. X-23 was her ever elusive self, as the others questioned her on her activities. As she was talking to them, her mind was entered and swept away by an entity known as the Gamesmaster, who wanted to keep her so he could use her to bring himself peace. He further noted that she had been caged her whole life and that he could set her free. When she declined his offer, he let her go, saying that he would always be watching her, as he was drawn to the pain she inflicts on herself. Once back in her body, X-23 ran from her friends and realized that there was no cage and nothing could hold her back. [X-23 oneshot]

X-23 learned that a man named Detlef Metzger, a man who had worked for Weapon X many years ago, was in possession of a vial of Wolverine’s blood. Knowing that he was going to be sought after by many governments wanting to restart the program and fearing what that would mean, X-23 tracked Metzger to a restaurant. Her plan was to pose as one of the waitresses to get in close for a kill but, before she could act, the place was stormed by soldiers. Malcolm Colcord, the head of the new Weapon X program, got to him first and took him away. X-23 fled the scene and it was only afterwards that she realized that Wolverine’s son, Daken, had also been at the restaurant. [Wolverine: Road to Hell #1]

X-23 was finding life amongst the X-Men increasingly difficult, as she was struggling to find a purpose. Her situation wasn’t helped by Surge and some of her other former New X-Men teammates venting their anger at her for joining X-Force. Nevertheless, she did have on her side Dust and Hellion, who showed her forgiveness for her actions. X-23 admitted to Hellion that she had missed him, something which he noted she had never said before. It wasn’t just the students who were concerned about X-23. Storm, Emma and Cyclops all realized that the X-Men used her in the same way her handlers had done. Cyclops decided some time away from the X-Men was in order and convinced her to stay at a halfway house for former mutants so she could find a different way to help people. Her stay at the halfway house didn’t go according to plan, though. Unbeknownst to her, Wolverine’s soul had been sent to hell and a demon now inhabited his body. What’s more, the demon had been reaching out to her in her dreams, trying to manipulate her into joining him in hell. X-23 woke up in the halfway house to find it on fire and visions of the demon all around her. She managed to escape and save the life of another resident. It was discovered that the cause of the fire was a gas explosion but the demon managed to convince her it was somehow her fault.

While she was convalescing in a nearby hospital, the demon-possessed Wolverine visited her. No one else knew of the switch but X-23 immediately realized that something was wrong. The demon taunted her and she eventually stabbed him, just as Hellion walked in. Thinking that she had stabbed Wolverine, Hellion subdued her with his power. She begged Julian to listen to her but he thought she had finally snapped. He was stabbed from behind by the demonic Wolverine, who then forced X-23 into going inside her own mind with him in return for him saving Hellion. In the Hell-like landscape of her psyche, the demon showed her memories from her life in an attempt to convince her that she was nothing but the soulless clone of a killer. To her surprise, Laura was aided by her inner light that showed her that, even during her worst moments in the Facility, she had resisted them all the way.

X-23 realized she wasn’t born an empty vessel and that it had taken a lot of effort by other people to make her that way and she could regain what she had lost if she chose to. With that knowledge, she was able to overcome the demon’s influence and return to her body. When she woke, Wolverine was gone and Hellion had been healed. What’s more, she now had a star-shaped scar on the palm of her hand. In the aftermath, the senior X-Men argued about what was best for X-23, whether she needed to find her own way or whether she needed the structure of the team. In the end, X-23 decided for them and left in the middle of the night. Storm managed to catch her before she left and remind her that she always had a family with them. [X-23 (2nd series) #1-3]

On her cross country journey, X-23 was approached in a diner by a young girl named Alice in whom she recognized the signs of being a prostitute and who seemed to be interested in recruiting X-23 for her pimp. When X-23 witnessed her pimp savagely beating Alice for her failure, X-23 killed him, though it was too late to save Alice. While digging a grave for the young girl, X-23 was surprised by the arrival of Gambit, who had been tracking her since she had left, though not as surprised as when a photo of herself was found on the body of the pimp. Together the pair’s investigation ultimately led them to a rundown town being run by Miss Sinister. The town had been one of Mister Sinister’s laboratory bases and Miss Sinister was using it for cloning experiments, of which Alice had been a subject. X-23 ignored the warnings of Gambit, who had had previously dealings with Mister Sinister, as she was more interested in Miss Sinister’s claim that she had information on X-23’s mother. Ultimately, Miss Sinister’s claim turned out to be a lie and she admitted that she was working with Malcolm Colcord, who was trying to resurrect the Weapon X program.

Further Miss Sinister explained that, following a recent confrontation with Daken in which she had been injured, the virus which had changed her into a clone of Mister Sinister had begun acting differently, slowly transforming her into a full Mister Sinister. Miss Sinister now intended to transfer her essence into X-23 before that could happen. Unfortunately for Miss Sinister, X-23 overcame the mental intrusion and forced Sinister’s personality out of her mind, destroying the equipment in the process. With the place collapsing around them, Gambit, X-23 and an Alice clone escaped. X-23 wanted to go back for the other Alice in stasis but Gambit tricked her to get her out of the building before she was killed. [X-23 (2nd series) #4-6]