X-23: Target X #3

Issue Date: 
April 2007
Story Title: 
X-23: Target X – Part Three

Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Mike Choi & Sonia Oback (artists), Troy Peteri (letterer), Rich Ginter (production), Michael O’Connor & Daniel Ketchum (assistant editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

While being interrogated by Capt. America and Matt Murdock, X-23 details how the Facility conditioned her to respond to the “trigger scent” by torturing her regularly from the tender age of eight. When she was fourteen, she was sent on a paid assignment for the Kingpin. She posed as the Kingpin’s niece and was kidnapped by a rival crime boss with invisibility powers called DiLorenzo. The trigger scent was used to mark DiLorenzo and X-23 easily killed the man. This was the start of a profitable business relationship between the Facility and the Kingpin. When asked by Cap which other targets the trigger scent was used on, X-23 reveals that they used the scent on both her sensei and her mother. Cap then realizes that it was also used on Megan and Debbie. Desmond, an operative for the Facility who had been assigned to get close to X-23’s aunt Debbie had spiked her tea with the trigger scent. When Megan arrived home, the tea spilled all over Desmond and a bit got onto her as she was helping him to his feet. Desmond panicked when he realized that he had been marked by the scent. In his panic, he demanded to know where X-23 was. Megan was surprised that he knew this name. She had no time to put the pieces together and realize how Desmond might know it. Laura had already smelled the trigger scent and was standing in the doorway, her eyes red as she entered the trance-like killing frenzy induced by the scent.

Full Summary: 

Matt Murdock leans in close and asks X-23 if a scent is truly all it takes to send her into a killing frenzy. She replies “yes” and he asks if she will kill anyone marked with it. Again she replies in the affirmative but she adds that she doesn’t mean to. Murdock turns to Captain America who asks what else she can tell them about “The Trigger”. She tells them that the conditioning began early. She was eight years old. She recalls her head being held under water followed by a jolt of electricity administered by Dr. Zander Rice. Dr. Rice’s assistant is unsure they should be doing this but Rice coldly expresses his intent to continue. X-23 screams as the jolt enters her wet body. This process was repeated again and again and again over the next several years.
When she was eleven years old, they tested the trigger scent for the first time. They placed a single drop in a dog and then placed it in a room with X-23. She immediately killed the poor animal. From an observation booth, Dr. Rice comments on how she will now react to the trigger scent without any sort of physical reinforcement. His aide asks if they should prep another animal for a demonstration for Director Sutter. Zander replies that he has another test subject in mind.
In the interrogation room, Matt Murdock is in disbelief at what he has just heard. Capt. America asks if the trigger scent was used on all her missions. X-23 does not look him in the eye as she tells him that it was only used on those she couldn’t be trusted to kill or for exceptional targets. Cap asks what this means.
Three years earlier…

Wilson Fisk, the notorious crime boss known as the Kingpin, sits at a posh restaurant eating a steak. Behind him stand two armed bodyguards wearing infrared sight goggles. The guards are shocked when they hear someone nearby call out “Wilson” in an overly dramatic voice. Fisk coolly comments “How theatrical” as his bodyguards frantically try to locate the unseen person in the room. They tell their boss that they need to go but their warning comes too late. The invisible man has maneuvered behind the Kingpin and now holds a knife to his neck. The Kingpin calmly orders his men to stand down assuring them that Mr. DiLorenzo is simply trying to make a point. DiLorenzo drops his invisibility and expresses his surprise that the Kingpin would agree to meet him in person. Fisk tells him he would have come alone had DiLorenzo not insisted that he bring his men and all this high-tech detection equipment. DiLorenzo explains that he merely wanted to illustrate that he is completely undetectable when he goes invisible. Fisk tells the man that he’s aware of his abilities and that they should get down to business. The Kingpin tells DiLorenzo that by kidnapping his niece he has made their turf war personal. DiLorenzo smiles and adds that he’s surprised that Fisk would leave himself open to extortion of a personal nature this way. The Kingpin replies that he is also a man of many surprises.
He goes on to tell DiLorenzo that he must have had someone working deep within his organization to obtain such insight into his personal life to be away of his niece, Samantha. He assures that she is in good health despite her abduction and DiLorenzo says that she will remain so as long as Fisk cooperates. The Kingpin asks that he state his terms and DiLorenzo asks for twenty percent of the Kingpin’s assets. Fisk offers him eleven, stating that Samantha is worth that but not more. The Kingpin produces four large briefcases and tells DiLorenzo that three of them contain 55 million dollars as a sign of good faith. DiLorenzo enthusiastically accepts the offer but says that he will have to hold onto Samantha until the deal is finished and the other crime bosses notified. On a final note, the Kingpin asks DiLorenzo to deliver a note to Samantha from her distraught mother. DiLorenzo agrees and then notices that there is a fourth briefcase. The Kingpin tells him coolly that the fourth case contains the remains of DiLorenzo’s mole within his organization. DiLorenzo is horrified by this and the Kingpin bids him “good day” as he departs.
In a warehouse in New Jersey, DiLorenzo’s thugs drag young Samantha to an audience with their boss. She is dressed in a school uniform and her head is covered by a sack. They tell her she’s going home and express their regret that they didn’t get the chance to know her better. DiLorenzo tells Samantha that her uncle is a sick man but that he has agreed to pay for her release. As his men remove the bag from her head, DiLorenzo reaches into his pocket and gives Samantha the note from her mother. “Samantha” is revealed to be X-23. DiLorenzo asks smugly if she’d like him to read the note aloud and suggests that perhaps he should just grab her mother and get the other nine percent he demanded from the Kingpin in return. X-23 takes one whiff of the note and smells the trigger scent. Her eyes turn a blood red as she pops her claws and dispatches both the guards in one motion. DiLorenzo is surprised and immediately turns invisible. He asks what the girl is as he fires his gun at her. X-23 lunges at him, scoring his face with her claws. She follows up with a full frontal assault.
At the Facility, Zander Rice confers with the Kingpin about the final details of their operation. He assures Fisk that a clean-up crew will secure the evidence he requires of the assassination. Fisk demands to have DiLorenzo’s skull on his mantel that night. Kimura listens in as Zander ensures that payment will be made. The Kingpin explains that DiLorenzo should have the cash on his person. Fisk adds that if this operation is a success he will have others for their young assassin. He asks to be updated accordingly. Kimura tells Rice that she likes the man and Zander replies that he likes his money. He instructs Kimura to personally make sure they bring the target’s head back when they collect X-23. He says that they’ll take a DNA sample before passing it along to Fisk.
X-23 continues her attack on DiLorenzo in a relentless and efficient manner. He has time to begin begging for his life but his pleas fall on deaf ears. He falls against his desk. Blood runs off of X-23 and across his invisible face. His eyes are open wide but devoid of life. With her mission complete, X-23 snaps out of the trance-like rage induced by the trigger scent.
In the interrogation room, Matt Murdock notes that he’d heard rumors about DiLorenzo. He was a superhuman assassin for the mob that they called Fade. Some thought he was a myth and no one even knew what he looked like or if he was real. Shortly after rumors circulated that he was moving in on the Kingpin’s territory, he simply disappeared. His wife and child vanished shortly after. Captain America glares down angrily at X-23 and asks if she had anything to do with their disappearance. X-23 looks up at him; her wide eyes look wounded or remorseful like a child who knows she has done something wrong as she tells him yes. He notes that the trigger scent was used only on those she couldn’t be trusted to kill and asks which targets. She replies, “My sensei…, my mother and…” Cap finishes her sentence adding the names “Megan and Debbie.” X-23 replies “Yes.”
San Francisco – One year earlier…

As Megan and Laura make their way home, they call to see how Megan’s mother, Debbie is feeling. Desmond tells them she’s doing a bit better and he’s making her some tea now. He asks if Megan can pick some medicine off on the way home. Megan agrees and says they’ll be there in about twenty minutes. Desmond sets down the phone and prepares the tea. Sitting next to the teapot is the trigger scent sample sent to him by the Facility. Megan tells Laura they need to pick some stuff up for her mom and asks X-23 if she has any money. Laura calmly replies that she has $147, 692. Megan asks if she’s serious and then asks if she can borrow twenty bucks. Laura tells her yes but that it’s at her house. As the girls pass an electronics store, X-23 sees a news bulletin from the Xavier Institute. The reporter announces that Professor Charles Xavier has “come out” as a mutant and revealed that his exclusive school is the home base of the X-Men. The camera swings to show a pair of X-Men, Beast and Wolverine. Laura’s eyes fixate on Logan’s face, one she has seen before in countless training sequences. Megan pulls her back to reality and says they have to get home to grab some cash.
Back at the house, Desmond offers a bed-ridden Debbie a soothing cup of tea. She coughs but says he doesn’t have to do all this as it’s likely just a 24-hour thing. He replies that in 24 hours he’ll go back to being a jerk. Until then, she should enjoy her tea. He tells her that Megan’s on her way home with cough drops as well. Debbie thanks him and comments on how much Megan has changed. She suggests that Laura may have something to do with it but that whatever it is, she’s happy to see Megan doing better. He tells her that he’ll be happy if she drinks her tea as he hands her a cup. She asks what flavor it is and he replies “chamomile.” As he heads downstairs with the tray and remaining tea, Megan rushes through the front door. She collides with him, spilling the tea on his shirt and face. He pushes it away and says “Oh god, oh god…” as Megan apologizes and reaches to help him up. He looks up at her, panicked and says “X-23”. Megan is surprised to her him use that name and he yells “Where is she?!” Megan tells him to chill and pulls away from him, her hands soaked in tea from his shirt. He again asks where X-23 is and it dawns on Megan that he called Laura X-23. She asks him what he called her. At that moment, X-23 catches the scent. She pops her claws and zeroes in on Megan and Desmond. She stalks up the front steps of the house. Desmond looks up in terror, fully aware of what is going on while Megan seems surprised. She looks up at her cousin and says “Laura?” X-23 stands over them, her eyes a blood red and her claws at the ready.

Characters Involved: 

X-23/Laura Kinney
Captain America

Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Debbie Kinney, Sarah Kinney’s sister

Megan, Sarah Kinney’s niece
Desmond, Debbie’s boyfriend
Dr. Zander Rice, Dr. Sarah Kinney, Kimura, X-23’s sensei and other unnamed personnel at the Facility
The Kingpin
Unnamed guards of the Kingpin
DiLorenzo’s thugs
Via television broadcast only:

Wolverine, Beast (Both X-Men)

Story Notes: 

This entire series is told through a series of flashbacks from different points in X-23’s life. The interrogation by Captain America and Matt Murdock takes place in the recent past as well and is used as a framing device to further explore X-23’s history.
The full story of X-23’s creation, upbringing and earliest missions were all depicted in the X-23 Limited Series. Presidential candidate Greg Johnson’s assassination was featured in X-23 Limited Series #3.
Kimura did not appear in the original X-23 Limited Series. She made her first appearance in NEW X-MEN #31.
Matthew Murdock is a lawyer as well as the masked vigilante known as Daredevil. His enhanced senses allow him to detect when others are lying which is how he knows that Laura is telling the truth when she says that she is no X-23. The interrogation scenes clearly take place before events of DAREDEVIL #80 which marked the beginning of Matt Murdock’s recent incarceration.
Charles Xavier revealed that he was a mutant as well as the full nature of his school in NEW X-MEN #117.

Issue Information: 
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