When Gabby, the pre-teen clone of Laura Kinney (clone of Wolverine), decided that she was now Laura’s sister and partner back in All-New Wolverine, Laura was more than a little reluctant to play mentor. One of Tom Taylor’s greatest accomplishments was showing how Laura came to accept and open up to this little girl who was like her—except when she absolutely wasn’t. In X-23, Mariko Tamaki has built on this relationship in exceptional ways. One of those incredibly painful ways is a deep, deep understanding of how sisters can just absolutely hate each other sometimes. We’ve seen this gradually growing through the last arc of the book, and it looks like it will be a major feature of what comes next.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Pencils: Diego Olortegui
Inks: Walden Wong
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Cover Artist: Ashley Witter
Important recapping for those who jumped into Laura’s character in X-23 or even in All-New Wolverine: Laura grew up in The Facility, escaping when she was a pre-teen (Craig Kyle is extremely specific on this point). She went straight to Logan, who introduced her to the X-Men and left her in the tender mercies of Emma Frost (hint: they were not tender, although Emma does not allow *anyone* to fork with her students). I don’t speak to people who consider NYX to be canon, so we’ll skip the way Laura was presented in that book. Moving forward, she was rapidly aged into late teenage years before becoming a member of Uncanny X-Force (also written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost). Her primary mentors over the years have been Logan, Cyclops, and Gambit, all true masters of expressing sincere emotion and deep connection. (#sarcasm)
So Laura doesn’t have a clue how to be close to people. She doesn’t know how to love people. She tries, she wants to, but she doesn’t have the experience necessary.
In these first arcs of X-23, we’ve seen Laura get increasingly intense on her mission to demolish all the samples of her DNA that people are using to make warrior clones. We’ve also seen Gabby get closer to the other clones, thinking of them as more of her sisters—especially X-Assassin. In this issue, Tamaki uses a framing device of Laura writing a letter to Gabby that she assumes will never be read. This allows Laura to express regret and upset over the events that occur as she and Gabby attack yet another facility and fight off more bad guys. But the fight against the guards turns into a fight with each other as Gabby becomes furious that Laura declared “no more clones,” and just expected Gabby to fall in line.
The way the sisters fight is familiar to anyone who has, you know, had fights with someone they love. But for Laura, this isn’t an experience she’s familiar with. When Laura gets to the pinnacle of her anger, she shouts at Gabby to just get out if she wants to. And Gabby calls her bluff. She and Jonathan pack up and walk out the door. And Laura is broken.
From the beginning of Tamaki’s run, we’ve seen the clash of two different ways of being a person who is living with trauma. Laura has shut down; Gabby is seeking love and a sense of family. It makes sense. Laura grew up alone; Gabby grew up with her clone sisters. (See Taylor’s first volume of All-New Wolverine.) And now they both have what they want; Laura’s alone and Gabby gets to go out and seek more of her sisters.
We don’t always want what’s good for us.
I’m a Laura Kinney fangirl. I read NYX AND Avengers Arena, ON PURPOSE. X-23 has brilliant writing and brilliant art, and I need it to keep going.