X-23: Target X #6

Issue Date: 
July 2007
Story Title: 
X-23: Target X – Part Six

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

Brief Description: 

X-23 tells Captain America and Matt Murdock about her visit to the Xavier Institute. She observed Logan for weeks before he caught her scent. She then followed him to the Canadian border, where she attacked him brutally. He tried to talk some sense into her but she was determined to kill them both. The battle was fierce and X-23 beat Logan, though he was clearly not fighting back. He tells her that he knows everything that happened to her because he has copies of the letters her mother wrote for her. After convincing her that none of what happened was her fault, he offers her the chance to start again with the X-Men’s help. Before she has a chance to decide, they are attacked by SHIELD agents. Logan urges her to flee but she is apprehended by Captain America. Cap called Daredevil to ask for his help in interrogating X-23. With the interview concluded, Cap decides that she must be brought to justice. Matt disagrees and warns Cap that SHIELD would use Laura as a weapon just as the Facility did. Cap nearly turns her over to the authorities before realizing that Matt is right and that X-23 deserves the chance to make a life for herself. He puts her on a bus and urges her to go to Logan. As the bus pulls away, Laura begins to read her mother’s letters.

Full Summary: 

Captain America and Matt Murdock continue their interrogation of X-23. Cap begins to ask her about her visit to the Xavier Institute and asks if she was looking for Wolverine. She replies yes and he asks why. Meanwhile, Murdock “looks” over the evidence that they have gathered, including Laura’s personal effects. This includes the locket her cousin Megan gave her, a tattered copy of Pinocchio, bloodied letters from her mother, a gun, piles of cash and more. Matt interrupts and picks up the book, asking the others if it’s Pinocchio. X-23 says yes and tells them that her mother used to read it to her. Murdock asks her if she ever said why she read that particular book and X-23 replies no. He touches the letters which are covered in blood and states that he can’t read them. Laura tells him that they’re letters from her mother but that there was so much blood on them that the words were washed away. Cap interrupts and suggests they wrap up this interview. He asks X-23 what happened at Xavier’s school.
X-23’s narration:

X-23 explains that it took her a while to find Logan as there were so many mutants at the school. When she did find him, he wasn’t alone. She watches for weeks, carefully avoiding detection by the nine telepaths living at the Institute. On her twenty-fourth day observing the school, the wind shifted and Logan caught wind of her. That night he left the Institute on his motorcycle and X-23 followed him.
She finds him camping out near the Canadian border. Without turning around, he said to her “Quit messing around, kid” and notes that he caught her scent an hour earlier.
X-23 pops her claws and jumps down from her perch. Logan tries to calm her and tells her they don’t have to do this the hard way. X-23 lunges at him and he back-steps to avoid her claws. She advances and he continues to dodge without retaliating. She then pops her foot claw and catches him by surprise. He blocks her next attack and tells her to stop since she knows that he’ll just heal from any wounds she inflicts.
She finally connects and slices through his neck. Her next blow cuts his leg. Logan pushes her away and takes off his jacket. He tells her that if she won’t listen then he’ll make her listen and he pops his claws.
They both charge at each other. Wolverine misses, X-23 doesn’t. She drives her claws deep into his chest. She then grabs a handful of dirt and rocks and shoves it into the open wound as Logan tries to recover. He tells her it stings but assures her he isn’t going to die from an infection. She says nothing but continues her attack pattern, cutting him deep with one hand and forcing gravel into the wound with the other. Logan cries out in pain and asks if she’s trying to annoy him to death. X-23 doesn’t speak and continues her assault.
Her next blow is to the neck and again she clogs it with a handful of earth. Logan throws her off him and asks what’s wrong with her. He then realizes that his wounds are not closing up and that she’s trying to bleed him out.
His astonishment gives X-23 another opening and she takes it, slicing him across the face with her foot talon. He falls to the ground and X-23 pounces on top of him and places her fists to his throat, ready to pop her claws.
He wryly says that he’s starting to think she’s “got a beef” with him. She tells him to shut up and that it’s over for both of them. He asks why. She yells at him that they are weapons and that they have to be destroyed. He tells her that if she’s set on killing him, then do it, but he refuses to let her kill herself. He positions her claws under his throat again. X-23 is confused and says that they both have to die. Logan replies that that may be true of him, but not her. He tells her that she didn’t choose this life and there was nothing she could have done to prevent what happened.
X-23 begins to tear up and says that it has to stop and she has to die. Logan tells her to look at him and tells her that her mother sent him a copy of the letters she wrote for X-23. He knows what happened and that none of it was her fault. Laura begins to cry and tells him that they made her kill her mother too. Logan tells her that he’s sorry and calls her by her name: Laura.
A while later, X-23 and Logan are sitting around the campfire talking. She is wearing his X-Men jacket. Logan explains that by the time he received Sarah’s letters, X-23 had left the facility. He tells her that no one, especially a child, should have to go through what she did. But now she has a choice. He tells her that her mother’s letters are in the inside pocket of his jacket. She gets to choose to be what the Facility wanted her to be, or what her mother dreamed she could be. He tells her he knows that it won’t be easy or quick to overcome all she’s endured but that there’s a guy at the Xavier Institute who could help her like he’s helped him. She tells him that they’ll come for her, even at the Institute. He tells them they’d find a world of hurt waiting for them if they tried.
Their heart-to-heart is interrupted by approaching helicopters. X-23 pops her claws thinking it’s the Facility who has found them. Wolverine tells her it’s worse than that… it’s the good guys. A pair of SHIELD assault copters drops from the sky. The agents aboard receive orders to take them down.
Logan tells X-23 to get out of there as the SHIELD agents open fire. He dives in front of X-23 and is ripped apart by the spray of bullets. He yells at her to run. She hesitates for a moment and then flees. As she runs away, she is hit by Captain America’s shield. He places it on her back and steps on it, announcing that she is under arrest.
The recent past:

Later in New York City, Daredevil returns from a night of patrolling to find his phone ringing. Captain America is on the other end of the line and asks for a favor. He needs him to meet him immediately. This leads to the intense interrogation of X-23.
The present:

At its conclusion, Murdock tells Cap that he should have left X-23 with Wolverine as this was her best chance for a normal life. Cap is surprised and points out that she is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. Matt holds up Sarah’s letters and asks Cap if he read them. He tells Cap that it’s a confession written by one of the people who are truly responsible for all those deaths. He notes that Sarah claimed responsibility for every murder committed by X-23 including the executions of the other guilty parties from the Facility.
Cap says that that doesn’t change anything and Murdock argues that it changes everything. He tells Cap that all the people he’s after are dead already and that Laura was as much a victim as any of the people she was forced to kill. Cap argues that she can’t be set free and has to be held accountable.
X-23 sits there, listening to them arguing her fate as if she wasn’t there. Matt asks Cap what he thinks SHIELD will do with her. He says that giving them X-23 would be like handing them a weapon and that they’d use her too. Cap says that the conversation is over and grabs X-23 by the handcuffs.
Matt steps in and says that speaking as her lawyer, he cannot allow this. Cap gets in Matt’s face and says “Don’t do this.” He tells Matt that he needed him there to verify that she wasn’t lying and that now that she’s confessed she has to face justice. Matt argues that she won’t find any justice and tells Cap that he’s wrong on this one. Cap apologizes for involving Matt and realizes it was a mistake. Matt tries to tell Cap that they can still fix this but Cap just walks away with X-23 in tow.
Cap drives X-23 to a SHIELD substation and is ready to turn her over to them. He tells her he has no other choice and can’t just let her go. Then he looks at her for a long moment. Perhaps he sees her for the first time, not as a weapon or as a killer but as a girl who never got the chance to be anything but what she was created to be.
A short time later, Cap puts X-23 on a bus. She asks why he’s doing this and he explains that when they first met after her assassination of a presidential hopeful and his entire family and campaign team, he made a mistake and she ended up back in the hands of those who created her. He realizes if he turns her in, others will use her in the same way and he can’t let that happen. He says that he’s not sure she can build a normal life for herself but he has to give her that chance. He tells her that Matt was right and she should find Logan.
X-23 thanks him and gets on the bus. As she boards, she sees a mother and her son doing flashcards. The boy smiles at her and she smiles back. The mom asks him what the word is for a bird’s foot claw and he hesitates a moment, then remembers that it’s called a “talon”. Laura pulls her mother’s letters out of her bag and begins to read them. They begin as a plea for forgiveness for all she has done. She acknowledges that these things can never truly be forgiven and that all she can do is tell her daughter the truth of what happened. As the bus pulls away, Laura begins to cry.

Characters Involved: 

X-23/”Laura Kinney”
Captain America
Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Emma Frost, Jean Grey, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Unnamed Xavier Institute students
Unnamed SHIELD agents
Adam, his mother and other unnamed civilians

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.
Matthew Murdock is a lawyer as well as the masked vigilante known as Daredevil. His heightened senses generally allow him to “read” by touch as he can feel the impressions left by printing or writing. The interrogation scenes clearly take place before the events of DAREDEVIL #80 which marked the beginning of Matt Murdock’s incarceration.
“Pinocchio” is the story of a wooden puppet that 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. The message that Sarah Kinney was trying to convey to X-23 by reading this was fairly obvious: cut the strings, don’t be content to be merely a puppet, despite not being a “real” person in the traditional sense you may earn your humanity through your deeds.
X-23’s observation of the Xavier Institute seems to take place during the Grant Morrison run of NEW X-MEN (2nd Series) which began with issue #115. Her conflict with Wolverine takes place immediately after NEW X-MEN (2nd Series) #139 in which a tearful Emma Frost confesses to Wolverine that she has fallen in love with Cyclops.
X-23 notes that there were nine telepaths living at the Xavier Institute when she arrived. There were at least ten identified telepaths living at the Institute at the time she arrived which was clearly before the student-led riot. Known telepaths included Emma Frost, Jean Grey, Charles Xavier, the five Stepford Cuckoos, Martha Johansson (No-Girl) and Quentin Quire (Kid Omega).
Wolverine makes reference to the man at the Institute who helped him through his own dark times. Naturally, he is referring to Charles Xavier.
The mention of the word “talon” is further foreshadowing of X-23’s inevitable codename. She was identified as Talon by Nimrod in NEW X-MEN (2nd Series) #29.
Sarah Kinney’s complete letters to Laura serve as the narration for the X-23 Limited Series.

Issue Information: 
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