X-23 #1

Issue Date: 
March 2005
Story Title: 
Innocence Lost – Part One

Craig Kyle (writer), Billy Tan (penciler), Jon Sibal (inker), Brian Haberlin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

A top-secret program led by Dr. Martin Sutter and his young protégé, Dr. Zander Rice is struggling to recreate the original Weapon X using a damaged cellular sample. After years of failures, Sutter hires leading geneticist Dr. Sarah Kinney to take the project in a bold new direction. Unable to reconstruct the severely damaged Y chromosome, Dr. Kinney proposes creating a female specimen using the intact X chromosome. Her request is denied, but Kinney defies order and creates a viable female specimen anyway. Unable to argue with her success, Sutter reluctantly approves her new approach despite Zander’s protests. Zander retaliates against Kinney by forcing her to serve as the surrogate mother. During the months that she is pregnant with specimen X-23, Dr. Kinney realizes the inhumanity of her actions.

Full Summary: 

(Opening Narration – A message from Dr. Sarah Kinney to X-23)

“Please forgive me. Even as I write the words, they ring so hollow. My mistakes… no, my choices… they cannot be undone, much less forgiven. How all this came to pass… and the truth about Weapon X.”
(Flashback – Weapon X Program)

The sounds of fighting, gunshots and screams of anguish can be heard as Dr. Dale Rice frantically packs disks of information into his briefcase. The doctor is growing panicked as the sounds draw nearer.
A familiar hand with three gleaming adamantium claws slashes through the face of a soldier.
Doctor Rice adds two vials containing biological samples to his briefcase before locking it. He prays that he won’t die as he exits his lab. He runs down a hallway as alarms sound all around him. He slams a metal door behind him and the claws come bursting through ripping through his shoulder.
He continues moving as two soldiers step in to delay the attacking Weapon X. Dr. Rice makes it to the snowy grounds outside of the Weapon X facility.
He takes a brief moment to pause and look behind him. The trio of adamantium claws burst through his chest, slicing his dog tags as they emerge. He looks down and promptly collapses to the ground. A snarling, naked Weapon X glares down at his lifeless body before disappearing into the snowy distance.
( Narration Continued)

Dr. Kinney wonders if things had ended then if she would be less of a monster or more. She tells X-23 that there’s no need to tell her about monsters since her entire life has been defined by them.
(Flashback – Weapon X Program)

A military helicopter arrives at the scene of Weapon X’s escape. Dr. Martin Sutter emerges flanked by two soldiers. He finds Dr. Rice’s body and takes his briefcase and his dog tags. He takes the dog tags to Dr. Rice’s young son Zander who looks at Dr. Sutter with tears in his eyes. He takes the dog tags and Dr. Sutter gives the devastated boy a hug.
( Flashback – Years Later)

Dr. Zander Rice is working frantically to save a patient. Around his neck, he wears his father’s dog tags, the slice from Weapon X’s adamantium claw still apparent. The patient enters asystole and Zander uses electrical paddles to try to revive him. The patient, a large mutant with pointed ears, has flat lined. A voice over an intercom tells Zander that it’s been nearly forty minutes and to let it go. Zander curses as he walks away from the body.
Zander enters Dr. Martin Sutter’s office and demands more specimens, preferably ones that can survive the bonding process. Dr. Sutter’s attractive young administrative assistant starts to tell him Dr. Sutter is not available as Zander bursts into his office.
Dr. Sutter introduces Zander to Dr. Sarah Kinney, a leading authority on mutant genetics. Scattered on Sutter’s desk are various magazines (TIME, Scientific American, etc.) that feature cover stories on Dr. Kinney’s work. Sutter explains that Dr. Kinney has had great success in mapping the mutant genome. Zander is confused and Dr. Sutter has to spell it out for him: he has hired Dr. Kinney to take the lead in their current project. Zander is clearly upset and asks to talk to Dr. Sutter in private. Dr. Sutter explains that Dr. Kinney can provide him with a new specimen, perhaps even the original specimen. Sarah explains that she plans to build a viable clone embryo from the genetic sample from the original Weapon X.
Dr. Sutter orders Zander to bring Dr. Kinney up to speed on the project and provide her with the info and resources she needs to begin her work. Zander reluctantly welcomes Sarah aboard.
Dr. Sutter is orienting Sarah to the project and explains that the deal they have struck provides her with unlimited funding and resources and no political or legal restraints on her work. He goes on to explain that those employed by the project must remain isolated from the rest of the world with minimal outside contact.
She wonders how they managed to free themselves of government regulations while Dr. Sutter asks if she can handle the moral implications of the work they are doing. She expresses only a dedication to the science involved and says that Sutter should be more concerned about Dr. Rice’s reaction to her arrival. Sutter explains to Sarah that the project was founded on the cellular samples that Zander’s father gave his life to protect and that Zander will need time to adjust to sharing control. He also notes that he has been raising Zander since his father’s death.
Dr. Kinney interrupts and tells Dr. Sutter that she isn’t interested in being part of their family drama but is only there for the work. She assures Sutter that she can handle Zander and that she’s handled worse. She then recalls an image of her father’s silhouette outside her bedroom door as she cowers under the covers.
At the same moment in Sutter’s office, Zander is reading Dr. Kinney’s file. The file contains a police report detailing an anonymous tip that an eight-year-old Sarah Kinney was being physically/sexually abused by her father. The complaint was dropped after the family members denied these allegations. Zander concludes coldly that Dr. Kinney is a “daddy’s girl”.
The narrative message to X-23 explains the difficulties they experienced in replicating the mutant genome.
Dr. Kinney is shown working on the problem of repairing the damage done to the original cellular sample from Weapon X. The Y chromosome in particularly was heavily damaged. The team of scientists is largely bewildered by the scope and ambition of the plan to rebuild the entire chromosome. This is made more challenging by the added factor of Weapon X’ mutation.
Sarah tells them that mainstream science will be struggling to clone cats in ten year’s time, but that the opportunity they have before them is akin to godhood.
For every success they had in rebuilding the Y chromosome, there were another million sequences waiting to be restored. Sarah continues to struggle with the inherent problems but explains that despite the daunting task of it all she felt alive and exhilarated. She knows now that she was a fool to feel this way. As she works feverishly, Zander watches with a devious smirk on his face.
Later that night, Dr. Kinney is talking on the phone with someone named Kevin about the details of the project. He suggests re-sequencing and she tells him that she has to find another way.
Elsewhere, Zander is having a decidedly sexual encounter with Dr. Sutter’s administrative assistant.
The next day in Dr. Sutter’s office, Sarah pitches her latest plan to speed up the progress of the project. Rather than spend years trying to rebuild the damaged Y chromosome, she suggests duplicating the intact X chromosome and creating a female specimen. She explains that while this would not produce a clone per se, the resulting specimen would be a genetic twin for all intents and purposes.
Zander can’t believe what he’s hearing and reminds Sarah that they are trying to create a weapon not a Barbie doll. Dr. Sutter agrees reminding Sarah that she knew what she had to work with when she signed on. She argues that she has come up with a solution to the inherent problems they face. Zander is incredulous.
At that moment, Sutter’s administrative assistant enters to deliver a file. She calls him “Martin” and he calls her “darling”, indicating that they are more than just colleagues. She gives Zander a sly smile before leaving. Dr. Sutter firmly tells Dr. Kinney that there will be no deviation from the original plan and that she will fulfill her original commitment to the program.
Dr. Kinney’s narrative message continues to explain that she was defiant and determined to succeed. She gave it thought and decided to proceed with a female specimen despite her orders from Sutter.
She continues to work on the rebuilding the entire sample while trying to create a viable female specimen.
She explains that for weeks she led a double life while working on both projects, since keeping secrets was something she had experience with. She goes on to explain how she never gave it a second thought, thinking only of creating a weapon and never letting herself believe that she was creating something real. She never thought in terms of creating a life or a child. But she was wrong to think that way.
Sarah is working long hours, dealing with a frustrated team of scientists by day and trying to create a viable female sample at night. Finally, the 23rd sample proves viable.
The next day in Sutter’s office, Sarah tells him and Zander that she has created a viable female embryo. She assures him that the fertilized egg is perfect and that the specimen will be x-factor positive. Dr. Sutter is not happy with the position she has put him in. Sarah tells him flatly that she’s done her job and created a viable specimen. He has the choice of using what she’s created and moving forward with the project now or waiting another six to ten years while she struggles to rebuild the sample to provide a male specimen. To Zander’s surprise, Sutter tells Sarah to proceed. He orders Zander to find a surrogate immediately. Zander tries to protest, but Sutter tells him his decision is not open for debate.
That night, Zander walks into Sarah’s room while she is sleeping. His silhouette fills the doorway just as Sarah’s father’s once did. She wakes up and demands to know what he’s doing there. He explains that her breakthrough has put them both in a bind. She doesn’t see how they are both affected. He asks her where she thinks they will find a surrogate with the necessary physiology to carry the female specimen to term. She asks what he is talking about and he gives her a knowing and devious smile. She can’t believe what he is implying and he assures her with a satisfied smile that if she doesn’t agree to play “mommy” her project will be dead in the water. Sarah is clearly not pleased with the rock and hard place Zander has now placed her in.
In her narrative to X-23, Sarah explains that growing up she always believed that she deserved everything that happened to her. That everyone gets what they deserve and that maybe she was right.
Sarah is now a part of the experiment, being poked, prodded and observed daily. She is shown hooked to machines and being constantly monitored as the pregnancy progresses. She explains that her life was dictated by physicians, psychologists and military strategists. Zander and Sutter watch as a clearly pregnant Sarah reads “The Art of War”.
Sarah explains that they weren’t always watching though. When they aren’t looking, she reads Pinocchio aloud to her “child”. Pinocchio longs to be a real person and not just a marionette whose strings are pulled by others. The Blue Fairy tells him he will be real when he deserves to be and he asks what he must do.
Zander snaps on a pair of surgical gloves as Sarah lies in stirrups during the delivery of X-23. The baby emerges and is promptly taken away Zander and the medical team. Sarah protests weakly. Zander examines the child and smiles grimly as he notes the two tiny bone extrusions poking through the skin on the back of the infant’s hand.
Sarah’s narrative message to X-23 concludes by reminding her that she initially asked for forgiveness. She tells her now not to forgive her or any of them for what they did to her. Ever.

Characters Involved: 

Dr. Zander Rice, Dr. Sarah Kinney, Dr. Martin Sutter (all part of the Weapon X re-creation project)
Dr. Sutter’s unnamed administrative assistant

Medical, scientific and security staff of the Weapon X re-creation program
in flashback

Dr. Martin Sutter, young Zander Rice

Dr. Dale Rice
Weapon X/ Logan
Canadian military personnel at the original Weapon X program (in flashback only)
in Sarah’s memories

Ron Kinney

Story Notes: 

X-23 was originally created by Craig Kyle for the X-Men: Evolution animated series. She appeared in several episodes of the cartoon before making her Marvel Universe debut in NYX #3.
The original Weapon X program was first depicted in the classic Weapon X story arc that ran in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84.
Dr. Dale Rice is not the only personnel from that Weapon X program that Logan attacked as he fled. He also left Malcom Colcord severely injured and disfigured as depicted in Weapon X (2nd series) #1. Colcord later resurfaced as the Director of a new government program called Weapon X.
“The Art of War” is a classic Chinese text on military strategy by Sun Tzu.
“Pinocchio” is the story of a wooden puppet who longs to be a real boy and goes through various trials and life lessons before having his wish granted. It was written by Italian writer Carlo Collodi in 1880.

In the origin of X-23 presented in the third season
of the X-Men: Evolution animated series, X-23 was
created by a team of Hydra scientists led by Dr.
Deborah Risman. A summary of this episode can be
found here:


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