A big part of being Wolverine involves dealing with amoral assholes who like to create armies of meat puppets that will dance to Vanilla Ice music if you order them. That’s what X-23 has to do with Alchemax Genetics, the company behind the clone attacker she fought in Paris in the previous issue. She managed to score a meeting with the amoral assholes in charge and, unlike her predecessor, resisted the urge to stab every one of them. While that might have been a better spectacle, it does show that she’s a bit more tactful than Logan. And she’s a teenage girl. What does that say about Logan?
We get a quick recap of what happened in Paris with the clone X-23 fought. Then, we meet Robert Chandler, who looks like a cross between Mr. Clean and Lex Luthor. He initially thanks her for killing one of his failed clones. I think Marvel gives tax breaks to those who kill clones anyways. It also turns out that the guy she saved from assassination was his son. So he’s not being a complete asshole in that he has the courtesy to thank her. Usually, Logan got a shotgun to the head on a good day. Definitely an upgrade for X-23.
There’s some heated, well-developed discussion on this army of clones that this guy made. He tells her they have her DNA, but none of her charming personality. They’re basically teenage girls on the wrong meds, a potent living weapon if ever there was one. And he wants to help her take them out because the last thing the world needs is more teenage girl killing machines. Again, she resists the urge to stab him, yet another testament to her capacity for restraint. Not sure if she would still hit on married women, but I guess she needs more time.
This Robert Chandler sounds so reasonable. He fucked up. He wants to help X-23 unfuck the situation. Is he really an amoral asshole? Well, he was damn close to not being one. Then he sent some of his goons to follow X-23. Why? Do amoral assholes need a reason? It doesn’t matter. X-23 still roughs them up, as Wolverine would gladly do in between shots of tequila. She doesn’t gut them where they stand. Instead, she instructs them to tell Chandler to back the fuck off. Somewhere out there, the spirit of Logan is wiping away a tear of joy in between banging Jean Grey and Mariko Yashida.
She makes her point. Then, her boy-toy/ride shows up in O5 Angel and he gets her back to her apartment. Apparently, Logan left her an apartment to stay in just in case she needed a place to sleep off a hangover. Beats the hell out of getting a pet cat in a will. Anyone looking for teen drama here better go back to watching John Hughes movies though. There’s some chat, but X-23 keeps it from turning into an MTV reality show. She says she’ll catch up later and O5 Angel’s dick probably hates him as a result. But she’s fucking Wolverine now. He’s not going to argue.
And X-23 actually has a damn good reason for telling her boyfriend to keep it in his pants. It turns out, someone else is in the apartment raiding her fridge. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s one of the clones. She’s not on a crazy kill mission. She’s just hungry and eager to chat. Already, I’m starting to think she should’ve stabbed Robert Chandler anyways.
They’re a bit overly casual at times, talking about how X-23 offed one of her “sisters.” Apparently, this clone never read Spider-Man in the 90s. Otherwise, she would completely understand. But she does show that she’s not psychotic and that Robert Chandler was probably talking through multiple assholes. But X-23 is still a bit concerned about some of the killing sprees her clones have set up. She wants to help them, but she’s probably just as inclined to give them the Robert Chandler treatment too if they’re going to let innocent people get caught in the crossfire.
The clone eventually agrees to help X-23 find her “sisters.” Naturally, this leads them into the shit-rivers of the sewers of New York. There are no ninja turtles, just rivers of shit. And the clone, named Gabby, leads the way. Upon meeting up, we see again that these clones aren’t quite as psychotic as the Madelyne Pryors of the Marvel universe. They understand they’re fugitives. They understand they’re in a world where clones tend to get fucked. They actually carry themselves as something other than meat puppets. Somehow, I think the 90s Spider-Man comics didn’t get the memo.
X-23 finally joins the party and their first inclination? Shoot her. Why? They’re clones on top of being teenage girls. This might be their version of an overly firm handshake. But X-23 being the new Wolverine, she brushes it off the same way most folks brush off a hangnail. They get hostile. Things get tense. The clones make it clear that they’ve been victims of Robert Chandler’s amoral douche-baggery and I imagine X-23 is inclined to believe them. It makes for a powerful predicament and one I’m sure Logan dealt with at least twice a month.
The tense conversation doesn’t last long though. Before they can do some nice clone bonding, they find out that one of Robert Chandler’s goons, Captain Mooney, followed them. Because why wouldn’t they? That’s what amoral assholes do. They ask for help. Then they screw over that help the first chance they get. In Wolverine’s world, this is usually the quickest way to get stabbed. True to that tradition, this is exactly how X-23 and her clones handle the situation.
It makes for a bloody, visceral, engaging battle that should give Wolverine fans of all types a solid boner. It’s not epic on the level of a cage match with a crack-head Sabretooth, but it’s still pretty damn satisfying. This is X-23 being as brutal and tough as Wolverine is supposed to be. She just does it as a teenage girl with an awesome rack. How can that not be awesome?
At first, it seems like just another typical Wolverine-style slaughter that Logan usually experienced every other week or so. If that were the case, then it wouldn’t have been more than an inconvenience for X-23. Unfortunately, Robert Chandler is the kind of amoral asshole who knows some people who know some people who kill some people. That’s how he would know a guy like Taskmaster. He delivers the crushing blow to X-23 when he shows up and easily offs X-23’s clones. It turns this typical Saturday Night Slaughter into something much more personal for X-23. If she’s going to be Wolverine, she can expect to have to stab a lot more people for a lot more reasons.
So...is it awesome?
When clones are involved, that's usually a loaded question. This time, however, I'm willing to smoke a few extra joints to help me forget certain periods in the 90s that don't involve boy bands. This issue really established that X-23 really is Wolverine now. She gets caught up with a bunch of uptight, ethically suspect sciencey types. Then, she meets the fruits of their ethically suspect sciencey shit storm. For a while, she's torn. But eventually, she starts kicking ass. That's Wolverine. Hell, that's Wolverine on a typical Thursday. A lot of clones have failed miserably like the last three Spice Girls reunions. X-23 once again establishes that she's not one of them. She might be an exception, but she's a damn awesome one.
Final Score: 9 out of 10