X-23 (2nd series) #10

Issue Date: 
July 2011
Story Title: 
Touching Darkness – part 1

Marjorie Liu (writer), Sana Takeda (artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Kalman Andrasofszky (cover art), Jared K. Fletcher (designer), Jody Leheup (assistant editor), Jeanine Schaefer (editor), Nick Lowe (group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

X-23 and Gambit are in Paris, where Laura’s behavior has gotten more self-destructive again to the point where she cuts herself once more. When Gambit discovers this, she runs away and later inadvertently hurts him. Afterwards, she plans to leave, but Gambit has called Wolverine to help and he arrives that moment with Jubilee, who was recently turned into a vampire. Wolverine tells Laura she has to fill her life with better memories. When she and Jubilee are out on a walk, Gambit calls him on the different ways he treats Laura and Jubilee. Outside, Jubilee drives away some men who are interested in them. When X-23 cuts her own throat, Jubilee succumbs to bloodlust and attacks her.

Full Summary: 

A bathroom in Paris, France. X-23 has cut her left lower arm and wrist; the blood drips into the drain, mingling with the water. Without expression, she stares at her reflection.

Later, wearing a jacket to cover the cuts, she steps outside where Gambit is already waiting in a street café, playing cards. She was gone a while, he notes. Everything okay? Fine, she replies curtly. He got her something, he announces and pushes a small cake towards he and puts a candle in the middle. For her birthday, he explains.

She has no birthday, she reminds him. She was born, wasn’t she? He asks. She was excised from a womb, she corrects. Well, that just sounds fancy, he jokes. He assumes he came out the old-fashioned way. He tells her to make a wish. Think hard about what she wants most, then blow out the candle. That will accomplish nothing Laura points out. Sure it will, he promises her. Gotta learn to trust in mystery sometimes. There is no mystery, she announces. Mystery is everywhere he protests, then sees blood on her hand. He asks about it. Laura withdraws her hand, then runs away.

Later, he listens to a waiter telling another it looks as though someone tried to commit suicide in the bathroom. Whoever it was, tried to clean up but there was too much blood.

Laura stands on a bridge looking down, bowing forward almost too much. Then she sits, down knees drawn close, as though in pain. Passers-by look at her curiously but leave her be. When one hand reaches out to touch her she lashes out, clawing at his arm. Too late she sees it’s Gambit.

Clearly in pain, he assures her it’s fine. She’s got small claws, like being poked with a toothpick. She’s horrified at the realization she could have killed him. He assures her it was an accident. He trusts her. Leaning on her, they walk back to their hotel.

At night, a bandaged Gambit makes a phone call. Laura stays in bed and doesn’t get up. Remy stays at her side, reading from “Peter Pan” : To live would be an awfully big adventure. He continues that the “Little Prince” is his favorite. He stole the first copy when he was a boy. Reading it changed him. Always loved the line You risk tears, if you let yourself be tamed. Later, he falls asleep in the chair.

Finally, Laura gets up at night and puts a blanket on him. She packs her things and prepares to steal out on her own but when she opens the door Wolverine stands before her, saying “hello.” It is him? she asks Not the demon, he agrees. Gambit explains he called him. Thought Laura might want to see a familiar face.

Wolverine has brought someone else, though, Jubilee. With a smile, she gets ready to hug Gambit, but Laura steps between them, claws unsheathed. Gambit gently draws her back while Wolverine does the same to Jubilee. She is a vampire. Laura stammers. She is dangerous! Look who’s talking, Jubilee angrily shoots back. She smells predator, right? Gambit asks. She stinks of it, Laura explains. He reminds her that , Jubilee is a friend. Laura apologizes for hurting him earlier. He knows, he tells her, but she hurts him more when she tries to hurt herself.

Later, Laura sits on the roof under the night sky, reading a piece of paper. Wolverine sits down next to her. Nice view, he remarks. What’s that? he asks, regarding the piece of paper. She found it in Madripoor when she was in Malcolm Colcord’s lab, Laura explains. A list of names. Her kill list. It’s long, he remarks. It covers only one year, she replies. There must be other lists just as long. She did not see them though. Wolverine asks why some names are circled. Laura doesn’t know.

Is that why she’s been hurting herself? he asks. Did Gambit tell him that. Does she want to die? Laura seems close to crying, then admits, she doesn’t know. He wishes he had answers for her. But he can only tell her she needs to have some faith. Faith in life. In people. In herself. All the names on her list… all her lists… It’s nothing compared to what he’s done.

She remembers them all. She felt nothing when she killed them. She wishes she still felt nothing. She does not know what this is she feels now. But she wants it to stop!

Better memories, he tells her. Fill her head with better memories, better actions, better friends. That’s all any of them can do. Is that what he’s doing for her? Laura asks. The vampire? She knows her name, he chides her. Jubilee was never a killer. Just the opposite. But now the instinct to kill is in her, more even than in him and Laura. He doesn’t know if she understands yet what that means. He doesn’t want her to.

Later, Laura and Jubilee take a nightly walk near the Eiffel Tower. A group of young men are interested in them.

Back in the hotel room, Gambit takes off his bandages. How come Wolverine never protected Laura like he protects Jubilee? he asks. He put a hurt girl on a death squad! Is he gonna do the same to Jubilee? Logan replies that Laura was raised to be a weapon. It was all she knew. You don’t just walk away from that. You have to work that out. Let it rise and give it new focus. He didn’t like it but X-Force provided that focus. For a time.

And Jubilee? Gambit asks. Logan warns him not to go there. He knows it was too much for her but he got X out when he could. Maybe it was too late and maybe he screwed up, but X and Jubilee are two different girls and he’s trying his best to make it right for both of them.

Okay, Gambit replies, but let’s be clear about one thing: Everyone may think Laura was broken, but they are wrong. Bent maybe, bent so far it looks broken, but that’s not the same thing. If she truly was broken, she wouldn’t be here now. She is fighting every bit of that conditioning because she wants to be someone better. So much so it is killing her on the inside. So Logan shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t make it hard for her when she sees the differences in how he treats Jubilee. Don’t pretend it doesn’t hurt her and make her think maybe she is failing.

At the Eiffel Tower, the men touch Laura’s hair and shoulders. Jubilee warns them to back off and they do. Losers, she scoffs. Is she okay? She needn’t have interceded, Laura tells her. Like hell she didn’t! Jubilee snarls. She’s one of the good guys, in case X hadn’t noticed! Or… maybe… she didn’t! Jubilee displays her fangs. Laura unsheathes a claw. Is she going to cut her? Jubilee challenges. Instead, X-23 cuts at her own throat. A moment later, Jubilee is upon her, overcome by her vampire hunger for blood…

Characters Involved: 


Gambit, Jubilee, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Young men

Story Notes: 

The quote from “Peter Pan” is actually “to die would be an awfully big adventure.”

“The Little Prince” by Antoine Saint-Exupery is one of the most beloved novels in the world.

Wolverine was possessed by a demon in Wolverine (4th series) #1-5 and gave X-23 trouble in X-23 (2nd series) #1-3.

Jubilee was turned into a vampire in X-Men (3rd series) #1-6. This story takes place after the Jubilee & Wolverine limited series.

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