X-23 #3

Issue Date: 
May 2005
Story Title: 
Innocence Lost – Part Three

Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost (writers), Billy Tan (penciler), Jon Sibal (inker), Brian Haberlin (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The program assigns a ten-year-old X-23 to assassinate a US presidential candidate. She comes through with flying colors and her career as an assassin is successfully launched. Her services are offered at 55 million dollars and there is no lack of customers willing to pay the price. As killing becomes a regular part of X-23’s life, she becomes more withdrawn and distant. Not even her “mother”, Dr. Sarah Kinney can get through to her. Secrets and lies continue to plague the program’s vengeful coordinator Dr. Zander Rice. He is being pressured by his former lover, Rachel to reveal the truth about their affair and the son that resulted to her husband and the program’s director, Martin Sutter. Zander becomes enraged by this and takes his anger out on X-23. Rice accompanies X-23 on a mission and orders the extraction team to abandon X-23, who finds herself surrounded by a lethal team of AIM agents who open fire on the young assassin.

Full Summary: 

(Ten years since X-23’s birth)

The department chooses the first field assignment to test their new assassin. They choose at random, the only important factor being that the target is high profile and perceived as untouchable. The selected target is Greg Johnson, a candidate for US President. X-23 is given a dossier and sent to the Los Angeles Convention Center where a rally is being held for the candidate. She is disguised as a handicapped child complete with braided pigtails, thick glasses, leg braces and crutches. After assessing the crowd, X-23 approaches security and asks in a small, child-like voice if she could meet Mr. Johnson. When the guard refuses, X-23 throws a temper tantrum, crying loudly and causing a scene. The guard confers with the campaign manager. The candidate’s wife overhears the call and sees a perfect photo opportunity.

Mr. And Mrs. Greg Johnson pose with their two sons and the poor little handicapped girl for the photographer. As the camera flashes, X-23 pops her claws and maneuvers deftly to attack Mr. Johnson. In a swift movement, she drives her foot claw into his chest. In a matter of minutes, she kills everyone in the room. Security, press agents, campaign staff and the candidate’s family are all dead by the time the security forces outside can react.

Sarah Kinney notes that she asked her superiors why this display was necessary. Dr. Sutter’s reply was that you can’t sell anything without advertising.

Following this display, the department is able to sell X-23’s services for fifty-five million a hit. Martin sits in front of a monitor reviewing potential clients and targets that include such criminal luminaries as Wilson Fisk, Hydra, Doctor Doom and Magneto. Sarah Kinney waits outside while he and Zander plot out X-23’s future.

While waiting, Dr. Kinney makes small talk with Rachel, Dr. Sutter’s assistant and lover. She asks how old their son Henry is now. Sarah is about to leave when Zander comes out of Dr. Sutter’s office and asks Rachel to start a client file for Wilson Fisk AKA The Kingpin. He sneers at Sarah and comments that her “pet” is starting to earn her keep. Sarah makes it clear that she plans to try and put a stop to that. Zander replies that Sarah no longer has a say in anything and is unimportant. As Sarah leaves, Rachel tries to talk with Zander about Henry, who is actually his biological son. Zander blows her off and she gets a bit teary from his refusal to deal with her.

Sarah goes to X-23’s room and asks if she would like her to read to her. X-23 seems distant and only perks up when her next assignment is passed under the door.

Sarah notes in her narrative that she feels she doesn’t matter to anyone anymore and all she can do is watch as X-23 is sent out time and time again to kill.
X-23 is assigned to kill a variety of targets around the world: dictators, royalty, godfathers, and drug lords. On these missions, she uses her claws, firearms and disguises to complete the assigned kill.

Rachel confronts Zander and insists on telling Martin the truth about Henry’s parentage. Zander grabs Rachel by the throat and slams her against the wall. He makes it perfectly clear that Rachel is to tell Martin nothing of their affair and that if Rachel does as she’s told everything will be just fine.

Sarah is in her office looking at a photo of her niece Megan. She is interrupted by her colleague Kevin who informs her that Rice is in the prep room and planning on going with X-23 on her next mission. Sarah goes to the prep room where Rice is loading his weapons for the mission. He makes it clear this is none of Sarah’s concern and that if she has a problem, she should bring it up with Dr. Sutter.
Sarah notes that X-23 continues to succeed on every mission without fail for three long years. She never missed a target and always completed the mission within the assigned time limit. She reached every single rendezvous point without fail until the mission that Rice chose to accompany her on.

The mission goes smoothly and X-23 has achieved her objective and has five minutes remaining before the arranged rendezvous. Rice tells the crew that they’re leaving and when they begin to protest, he shoots them. He places his gun to the pilot’s head and tells him that they had to abort the mission when X-23 failed to make the rendezvous.

X-23 is being pursued by a team of Hydra agents and sees the transport leaving as she arrives with over a minute to spare. Rice sneers down at her and bids her farewell. He tosses his father’s dogtags down to her. She looks at them, bewildered for a brief moment. The AIM team catches up to her and she finds herself surrounded. She pops her claws and they open fire.

Characters Involved: 


Dr. Zander Rice, Dr. Sarah Kinney, Dr. Martin Sutter (all part of the Weapon X re-creation project)
Dr. Sutter’s administrative assistant/wife, Rachel (first named in this issue)

Medical staff and special ops agents of the Weapon X re-creation program including Kevin (Dr. Kinney’s confidante)
Mr. & Mrs. Greg Johnson and their sons, Mark and Brad
Presidential campaign crew including Kyla (manager) and Jim (photographer)
Security forces and Secret Service agents
Participants at the rally for Greg Johnson
X-23’s various assassination targets
AIM Agents
On video monitors:
Doctor Doom, Hammerhead, Kingpin, Magneto, Scarecrow, Sinister, Hydra and AIM agents and others.

In photos only: Henry Sutter, son of Rachel and Zander Rice

Megan, Dr. Kinney’s niece

Story Notes: 

The passage of time is somewhat unclear in this issue. X-23’s first mission happens when she was ten years old. Dr. Kinney attempts to intervene 3 years later as indicated by the age of Rachel’s son Henry. X-23 is thirteen years old when Dr. Rice abandons her at this issue’s conclusion.

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