X-23 #5

Issue Date: 
June 2005
Story Title: 
Innocence Lost – Part Five

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: 

X-23 infiltrates the home of Doctor Martin Sutter just as his wife, Rachel reveals the truth about her affair with Zander Rice. X-23 murders them both but cannot bring herself to kill their four-year-old son, Henry. When she returns to the program, Zander Rice makes it clear that this mission must remain a secret. When Dr. Sarah Kinney, X-23’s surrogate mother, goes to check on her she finds X-23 cutting herself with her claws. X-23 refuses to explain why she’s doing this to herself, but she does give Sarah the photo of the Sutter family that Zander gave her as part of her mission. With Dr. Sutter dead, Zander assumes control of the program. He shows Sarah his secret project: a room full of gestating embryos that will provide him with an army of Wolverine clones. He then fires Sarah and tells her to be gone by morning. Sarah completes her journal entries and goes to X-23 with one final assignment: destroy Zander’s embryo chamber and kill him as well, thus, guaranteeing X-23’s freedom and future.

Full Summary: 

Doctor Martin Sutter is arguing with his wife, Rachel who has just revealed to him that she had an affair with his protégé, Zander Rice, and that their son, Henry, is really Zander’s. Martin slaps Rachel and tells her to shut up. Rachel tries to explain that Zander threatened to kill if if she ever told him the truth. As she is making her case to her husband, Rachel stops abruptly. She screams as X-23 emerges from the shadows with a billy club. She beats Dr. Sutter to death with it and then turns on Rachel who pleads for her life saying that she has a son.
In her journal entries Dr. Sarah Kinney talks about how the choices one makes in their life define who they are. She has chosen to stay with the program despite the ways in which they have stripped X-23 of her childhood and her humanity. She takes responsibility for all that has happened to X-23 and all that she has been trained and forced to do in her young life.

X-23 finishes off Rachel and makes her way upstairs, where she finds Henry hiding in a closet clutching a Spider-Man action figure. She places the billy club under his chin and pops a claw. She looks down at his tear-filled eyes. The head of the Spider-Man figure is cut off and lies on the ground as a testament to her choice.

X-23 stalks past the dead bodies of Martin and Rachel Sutter as flames consume their home. She looks down at the picture that Zander gave her of her targets. It is a sweet family picture with Rachel hugging a smiling Henry.
She returns to the facility where Zander awaits her. He leads her to the shower room and uses a fire hose to wash her off. He then tosses her bodysuit into an incinerator. He grabs her fiercely by the wrist, calls her a beast and reminds her that she is to say nothing about this assignment to anyone. She silently agrees but pops a single claw as he leaves.

Unable to sleep, Dr. Sarah Kinney goes to check on X-23. She watches in stunned silence as X-23 cuts into her wrists.

In her journal, Sarah notes that she always assumed that Rice was the one cutting X-23. Seeing her hurt herself this way only reinforces to Sarah the damage she has done.

She goes in and confronts X-23 with this and asks her to try and explain why she is doing this to herself. As she tries to reach X-23, Kevin shows up with the news about the fire at the Sutter home and Rachel and Martin’s deaths. Sarah asks about Henry and Kevin says that they found him in shock but physically all right in the woods behind the house. He goes to find out more and as Sarah goes to follow, X-23 stops her. She opens her mouth and there is a crumpled piece of paper inside. Sarah reaches for it and smoothes it out. It is the photo of the Dr. Sutter and his family that Zander gave to X-23. Sarah immediately realizes that Zander is the one responsible for the Sutters’ deaths. She tells X-23 that Rice used her…that they both have and they are both monsters for doing so. She tells X-23 that she’s going to get her out of there. X-23 asks if it’s a mission. Sarah nods and says, “Yes. A mission.”

Sarah goes to offer her condolences to Zander. He is leaning back in Sutter’s chair smiling. He takes Sarah for a walk. He tells Sarah that it’s no secret that he opposed her inclusion in the project and her “motherly” role with X-23. He assures her that now that the project is his, he won’t make that mistake with “phase two”. He reveals to her a room with dozens of embryos that are gestating in artificial wombs. Sarah is shocked and says that he can’t do this. He tells her that this is business, not science; a distinction she never understood. He confesses that there were times he wanted to kill her but that they’re really a lot alike and that he’s not a bad guy. He runs his fingers through her hair. She brushes his hand aside and tells him off. He tells her she’s out and that she needs to be gone that night. He assures her that X-24 through X-50 won’t be needing her. He tells her if she’s still here in the morning he’ll have her shot.

Zander issues a public announcement to everyone involved in the program mourning the deaths of the Sutters and proclaiming that it was Martin Sutter’s last wish that he take over. He vows to continue Sutter’s work and vision.

Sarah completes her journal entries. She tells X-23 that she couldn’t stop what Rice made her do but that she showed that there’s still hope by sparing Henry and revealing Rice’s plans to her. She writes that despite all their efforts to forge her into a weapon, she was still a child. Kevin arrives and tells Sarah it’s time to go. She says she’s almost finished.

Zander washes his hands and smiles maniacally into the mirror.

The guards outside of X-23’s room are discusses the deaths of the Sutters and the rumors swirling about that it was not an accident but murder. They have also heard rumors of an imminent attack by AIM. The guards are suddenly shot dead. As they fall, Kevin and Sarah make their way to X-23’s cell. Sarah slides an envelope under the door.

X-23 opens the packet. Inside are a timer watch like she wears on all her missions, a blueprint of the embryo chamber that Zander showed Sarah earlier and a photo of Zander himself. The journal entries tell X-23 to always remember that she is not to blame for what she has done. Sarah takes full responsibility for the blood that X-23 has spilled and asks her to understand why she is asking her to kill one last time. The difference being that this time, killing will be in the name of justice and the completion of this mission will give her back the life that was stolen from her.

Characters Involved: 

Dr. Zander Rice, Dr. Sarah Kinney, Dr. Martin Sutter (all part of the Weapon X re-creation project)
Rachel, Dr. Sutter’s administrative assistant/wife
Henry Sutter, Martin & Rachel Sutter’s son
Medical staff and security agents of the Weapon X re-creation program including Kevin (Dr. Kinney’s confidante)

Story Notes: 

Zander notes several times that Martin Sutter was like a father to him. Dr. Sutter raised Zander after his father was killed by Wolverine, the original Weapon X as he escaped the Weapon X facility. His quest for revenge inspired his involvement in the Weapon X recreation program and his intense hatred for X-23.
The narration for the series is actually made up of journal entries by Dr. Sarah Kinney that form a letter to X-23 explaining her history and Sarah’s own role and feelings about being part of the program. It appears that this letter to X-23 was a part of the mission packet Sarah gave to X-23 at the end of this issue.

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