X-23: Page 6 of 11

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


With the knowledge that Malcolm Colcord wanted to recreate the Weapon X program, X-23 and Gambit headed to Madripoor to deal with the situation. They arrived to find the city in chaos and riots, as all electrical equipment had been disabled via an EMP, all part of Daken’s attempt to take control in the chaos. The two sought the aid of Gambit’s old acquaintance, the crime boss Tyger Tiger, who had recently been deposed by Daken. They also learned of the recent kidnapping of children and that Daken was somehow involved in Colcord’s experimentation of them. Deciding to lure Daken out in the open, X-23 allowed him to learn of her connection to Wolverine. Intrigued, Daken asked her to join him, but X-23 declined and instead passed along the information to Daken of Colcord’s plans regarding Weapon X. When Daken departed to confront Colcord, X-23 and Gambit followed, though not secretly enough, as they were soon captured at Colcord’s lab. In short order, X-23 found herself strapped to a table and prepped for experimentation. However, just before the procedure, her straps were weakened by Daken, who had had enough of Colcord’s betrayal and was literally ready to clean house. X-23 broke free and killed all of the doctors in a feral rage, after which she was joined by Daken who confronted her with information from her past. Despite his manipulations, X-23 teamed with Daken and the two killed the mindless monsters which had been the results of Colcord’s experiments.

The two eventually caught up with Colcord and, after overhearing him talking about a bomb which would detonate in minutes, they forced him to take them to it. Instead of disarming it, however, they allowed it to detonate, destroying the building and killing Colcord. Thanks to their healing factors, both emerged from the facility’s rubble alive. The threat of a reconstituted Weapon X project evidently over, X-23 parted ways with Daken, but not before they shared a moment of understanding of each other. While Daken sought power and seemingly had no heart, Laura limited her power in order to try and regain her lost sense of humanity. Together with Gambit, X-23 set sail for Paris. Unbeknown to X-23, however, not only did Colcord still live, thanks to his artificially created healing factor, but one of the workers at the lab had sold a mysterious woman a modified sample of X-23’s trigger scent. [Collision crossover]

During her time in Colcord’s facility, X-23 had come across a list of people she had killed while an assassin. Sinking into a depression, X-23 began cutting herself again, worrying Gambit enough that he called Wolverine, who flew to Paris to meet them. When X-23 opened the door, she was surprised to see him and even more surprised to see that he had brought Jubilee, who had recently been turned into a vampire. After a heartfelt conversation with Wolverine, X-23 went for a walk with Jubilee, who was struggling with her vampiric side. During their walk, X-23 cut open the side of her neck, causing Jubilee’s vampiric side to surface. Jubilee only drank a drop of blood but managed to regain her senses and was furious with X-23 for doing that to her. However, after calming down, the two started to bond.

Wolverine and Jubilee were still with X-23 when Gambit learned via one of his associates that a trigger scent from Madripoor was due to be auctioned off. Still mindful of her “kill list,” before they set off to investigate, X-23 asked Jubilee to kill her if she were ever affected by the scent. During their investigation at the auction, X-23 was doused with the scent and let loose on a subway platform full of people. However, before she could kill anyone, Jubilee interfered and held her long enough for Wolverine and Gambit to arrive to help snap her out of her rage. At the end of the caper, the mysterious woman behind the whole affair left X-23 with a wad of money and a note, thanking her for her participation in the creation of the scent which could now be used on everyone. She also left a name for her, Alex Cimini, and explained that years ago X-23 had been sent to kill his family but she resisted her conditioning and she left him alive. Realizing this meant that she was never fully out of her own control, X-23 felt a slight vindication and admitted that she didn’t want to die anymore. [X-23 (2nd series) #10-12]

X-23’s curiosity over the man she had refused to kill led her and Gambit to seek out Alex Cimini, who turned out to be a college physics student in New York. By coincidence, X-23 and Gambit arrived just as an experiment of Alex’s seemed to cause earthquakes and supernatural phenomenon. When the Fantastic Four arrived to investigate, the duo accompanied them back to the Baxter Building, where it was discovered that X-23, Spider-Man and the Invisible Woman were somehow connected to the energy manipulated by the device. When Valeria inadvertently activated the device again, the three heroes were transported to an alien world, where they were met by the Enigma Force, which had used each of the three heroes as a host at various points in the past. The Enigma Force explained that it was once a man from this world, which now served as a prison for the demon forces he had exiled there. Unfortunately, Alex Cimini’s device allowed transportation between the worlds, allowing the demons and their master, the king of demons, opportunity for escape. Sent back by the Enigma Force with Spider-Man and the Invisible Woman, X-23 found the king of demons in the Baxter Building, who was after the device. In desperation to save Valeria, whom the king had taken hostage, X-23 allowed the demon to possess her, after which she leapt through the portal into the other world. There, X-23 proved too strong-willed for the king of demons, who departed from her body, allowing X-23 once again to host the Enigma Force and escape back to her own world. When she woke four days later, X-23 decided to go see Alex Cimini again but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him she had killed his parents. She told Gambit it was the first time she had lied but she didn’t want to burden him with an unnecessary truth. [X-23 (2nd series) #13-16]

In the meantime, the once united X-Men had gone through a schism, separating into two camps: one following Cyclops on Utopia and the other following Wolverine, who restarted the school back up in Westchester. While visiting Westchester to make a decision as to where her loyalties lay, X-23 was visited Hellion, who directed anger at his current life at X-23 for being away so long and not saying goodbye. During their talk, she abruptly left him to take a call, which turned out to be from Sue Storm, asking her to babysit. A simple evening turned into a bizarre series of confrontations with a dragon, aliens and even the Collector, an Elder of the Universe who took a specific interest in X-23’s claws. Laura and Julian succeeded in rescuing the kids, defeating the Collector and using a portal device to get them home, all with the Fantastic Four none the wiser.

X-23 found Hellion waiting for her outside the Baxter Building. Feeling closer to her after the adventure they had just shared, he kissed her for the first time, only for her to tell him that there was nothing between them anymore. Hellion became angry and lashed out, telling her she was nothing but a machine and she didn’t want anyone, but X-23 replied that he was wrong and that she wanted to feel, but she just didn’t want him. Later on, she admitted to Gambit that Hellion had once meant something to her but she had changed. [X-23 (2nd series) #17-19]

X-23 hung around Wolverine’s school for a little while longer as she made her decision as to where her loyalties lay. She had struck up a close friendship with Jubilee and, when the two went out one night, they had an adventure together, breaking up a sex slave ring. The Black Widow, a Russian spy-turned-Avenger, was on hand to help them and she told X-23 she had been watching her. She was impressed with X-23’s skills and she offered her a place at the Avengers Academy. X-23 accepted and she left the school with Gambit and Wolverine’s blessings. [X-23 (2nd series) #20]

Before she joined the Academy, however, X-23 had a personal mission to take care of. Having learned that a stolen vial of her blood had been sold to a casino owner in Las Vegas, X-23 located a facility where the blood had been used to create four clones of her, each of which had been bonded to Venom symbiotes. X-23’s confrontation with the clones was cut short by the unrelated actions of Mephisto’s son, Blackheart, who had opened the gates of Hell and unleashed the dimension upon Vegas. X-23 soon joined forces with Venom, Red Hulk and Ghost Rider, who were also in Vegas for their own reasons, and together they confronted Blackheart. A whimsical spell cast by Blackheart forced the heroes to fight their exact opposites, which for X-23 was an all-American, blonde cheerleader called “X-666,” who eroded her confidence by pointing out that she was a shallow copy of a killer. Ironically, it was Blackheart himself who offered a different perspective when he offered to tell her whether she had a soul or not. Intrigued, X-23 stopped fighting long enough to be told by Blackheart that she did, otherwise she couldn’t be in Hell. Momentarily distracted by this revelation, X-23 was killed by Blackheart and soon woke up in the real Hell alongside her allies, who had also been killed by their antitheses. To their surprise, they were approached by Mephisto, who offered to resurrect them if they would help defeat Blackheart. X-23 and the others agreed to the bargain and, with the help from Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom, they managed to defeat Blackheart and remove the effects of Hell from Las Vegas. [Venom (2nd series) #13.1-13.4]

X-23 joined the Academy and immediately showed everyone that she did not require combat training. Hank Pym told her she didn’t have the same baggage there as she did with the X-Men; all he asked was that she gave them a chance. In a rare display of openness, X-23 told everyone at the Academy about her life at the Facility and what had been done to her. She also told them the difficulties she had with emotions and relationships. The Academy students welcomed her with open arms as they seemed more fascinated than threatened by her. She immediately bonded with Mettle, who was having trouble dealing with the fact he had killed some Nazis recently. However, thanks to the manipulations of Reptil (actually possessed by an alternate future version of himself at the time), Mettle’s girlfriend Hazmat wasn’t as welcoming. [Avengers Academy #22]

X-23 kept a relatively low profile to begin with, as many of the other students were dealing with their own issues. However, when the Avengers and the X-Men went to war against each other, she found herself drawn back into the fight. The Phoenix Force was headed for Earth and the Avengers saw it as a big threat, whereas the X-Men saw it as a way to save the mutant race. After the initial skirmishes, the X-Men scattered and the Avengers rounded up the remaining students on Utopia and brought them to the Academy. Wolverine, who had sided with the Avengers, confronted X-23 and asked for her help in dealing with her former teammates. X-23, however, was angry at him, as she felt she had made it clear she didn’t want any part of his dispute with Cyclops and now he had brought the war to her doorstep. Likewise, the X-Men students didn’t want to be there, as they felt they were being held against their will, and Dust was uncharacteristically frosty with X-23, saying she didn’t have enough information to make a decision on the situation.

Having been given pause to reconsider her stance on recent events, X-23 was able to find emotional common ground with Finesse, who also had trouble understanding emotions and dealing with other people, with other mutants and the Academy, and even Hazmat, who managed to work through her issues of jealousy with X-23. When tensions rose to the point where the Academy students and the mutants came to blows with an all-out brawl, X-23 joined in but only to stop it. She told the two groups that she understood why the Avengers brought the X-students there but keeping them against their will was wrong. She managed to make the other Academy members see things from the mutants’ point-of-view and, after being met with a united front, the Academy instructors reluctantly let the X-students go. X-23 decided to stay at the Academy but also made friends again with Dust and the others before they set off. [Avengers Academy #29-31]

Though her relationship with her Academy classmates was better than ever, X-23 had an issue with a classmate named Juston, who was in possession of a Sentinel robot. Taking offense to a mutant-killing machine being kept as a pet, she confronted Juston and, after proving it still had the mutant-killing programming, she threatened to destroy it. In the meantime, things had escalated in the Avengers/X-Men conflict to the point where five of the X-Men had become possessed by the Phoenix Force. One of the Phoenix-possessed X-Men, Emma Frost, had made it her personal mission to destroy all Sentinels and came to the Academy, looking for Juston’s. She also offered X-23 a place back on Utopia, as well as a “fix” for her mind by giving her the equivalent of years of therapy within seconds. Not only did X-23 decline both offers, but she surprisingly took Juston’s side in his objection to the destruction of his Sentinel after it sparked a memory with her of the Facility forcing her to kill her own puppy. In a fit of rage, she stood up to Emma and slashed her across the chest. Though X-23’s Academy classmates fought by her side, Emma ultimately destroyed the Sentinel. However, she was unaware that the CPU had secretly been saved by Quicksilver at the last minute. [Avengers Academy #32-33]

As the Avengers/X-Men conflict escalated, the Academy staff decided to close down the Academy as their attentions were needed in the war with the X-Men. Although the students went their separate ways, X-23 and Finesse stayed together to try and find a new home. After trying places like the Savage Land, they eventually received a call from Jeremy Briggs, a former associate of the Academy who had developed a type of nanobot called “Clean Slate” that could depower any superhuman. After testing it on some willing members of the Academy, he revealed his plan was to release it in gaseous form to the world and forcibly depower all the world’s heroes and villains. X-23 and some of her allies objected and ended up fighting Briggs and his crew, the Young Masters of Evil. Briggs infected everyone with the nanobots and when X-23 was depowered, she began to succumb to injuries she had sustained earlier.

Faced with the real possibility of death, X-23 began to wonder if she was feeling how all her victims had felt. She decided to use her remaining time to kill Briggs in a bid to stop his plan to depower everyone else. Eventually, the team managed to regroup and find a cure for what the nanobots did, repowering X-23 in the process. The team found Briggs just as he was about to launch the nanobots on a rocket. After X-23 was knocked out during the ensuing fight, Finesse nevertheless used the claws in Laura's body to stab Briggs and cause him to bleed to death. However, when X-23 woke up, Finesse made her believe that she had killed Briggs herself in a blackout rage. [Avengers Academy #34-37]

After the conclusion of the Avengers/ X-Men conflict, the Academy was reopened and X-23 returned, though she was still struggling to deal with the death of Briggs. Whilst she tried consoling herself with the fact that she killed him to save her friends, she still felt guilty about what she believed she had done. When X-23’s inner turmoil became noticeable, Finesse eventually confessed, though she remained unapologetic, which made X-23 even angrier. She had been used as a weapon before and she didn’t appreciate it happening again. X-23 decided not to tell anyone else what happened but she made it clear that she and Finesse were no longer friends. Later on, the students confronted their teachers with the belief that they were recruited into the Academy because they were seen as most likely to become super-villains. The teachers told them they couldn’t be more wrong and revealed they were going to spread the Avengers Academy program worldwide and they would be in charge. X-23 was pleased at the development, as she thought it would be nice to help people. [Avengers Academy #38-39]

Unfortunately, X-23 didn’t get to enjoy her role for long, as the villainous games master Arcade kidnapped her, along with numerous other teenage heroes from around the world. Gaining inspiration from a recent popular film, he decided to put all the kids on an island and force them to kill each other until only one was left standing. The first to die was X-23’s fellow Academy member, Mettle. After seeing Arcade was serious, they scattered, with X-23 and her remaining Academy members sticking together for support. [Avengers Arena #1]

A few days and another death later, someone attacked Juston and his Sentinel. With Juston missing, it was just X-23, Reptil and Hazmat in their little group, so they decided to move south into the desert despite the fact that they had no food. Help came with Nico and Chase from the Runaways, both of whom were struggling on their own. Nico managed to conjure up food for the group, which helped ease the tensions. When Reptil was badly wounded by a mystery assailant, X-23 assumed it was Chase and the Runaways fled. [Avengers Arena #3-4]

They eventually found Hazmat and Reptil, who had been hiding out on a beach. X-23 recovered from her injuries and regained consciousness. Fortunately, the trigger scent had washed off the other two and she no longer posed a threat to them. After recuperating on the beach for a bit, everyone set off to help Nico take down Apex. [Avengers Arena #10]

Eventually, Deathlocket and Apex managed to escape Murderworld and work on ending the slaughter from behind the scenes. Inside Murderworld, the others entered the final stages of the game, where everything was thrown at them. The trigger scent was deployed again, making X-23 go into a frenzy, attacking Hazmat. She was eventually subdued by Anachronism, who beat her into a bloody pulp with his axe. Whilst Laura recovered from her injuries, Arcade was stopped and everyone was finally freed from their ordeal. The Avengers, X-Men and various other heroes descended on Murderworld to help the children and understand exactly what went down. [Avengers Arena #11-18]