It’s very difficult for Laura Kinney, AKA X-23, to die, but it’s been ever harder for her to live life on her own terms. As the product of a successful experiment to clone the X-Man Wolverine, X-23 is armed with both a mutant healing factor and unbreakable adamantium claws that can cut through virtually anything. The organization that created her believed Laura could best employ those traits as an assassin, physically and emotionally torturing her in attempt to make her training as a killer stick. She escaped from them, but soon after that she was captured and enslaved by a vicious pimp. With the help of a group of homeless teenage mutants, Laura broke free from the pimp, killing him in the process.
She eventually joined the ranks of the X-Men, where she’s served with distinction. Her combat skills and willingness to kill for what she sees as a greater good has also made her valuable member of X-Force, Cyclops’ clandestine team of X-Men tasked with taking out targets that threaten mutant lives. Recently, in the “X-23” one-shot, Laura came to the realization that even as a member of the X-Men, she was doing what she was created to do and not what she wanted to do. This September, Laura will finally start to live life on her own terms when the new Marvel ongoing “X-23” series, by writer Marjorie Liu and an unrevealed artist, begins. CBR News spoke with Liu about the book, which was announced today at Marvel’s X-Men panel at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo.
CBR News: Marjorie, in your recent “X-23” one-shot, it seemed as though you started the character on a journey that made her want a lot more out of life than what she was getting. Is the “X-23” ongoing sort of the next stage of Laura’s journey?
Marjorie Liu: When I was first asked to write the one-shot – well over a year ago, maybe close to two – we treated it as a character study, a chance to look inside Laura and see where she was, mentally, in relation to herself and the rest of the world. Of course, the one-shot fell to the wayside until recently, and when we picked it up again and brushed it off, I went into the revisions with the same mindset. Who is Laura in this moment of time, who does she want to be, and how will she get there? I think I addressed the first question in the one-shot, I alluded to the second and the ongoing will take Laura on a journey that will, hopefully, answer the third question. Or begin to answer it.
In the months ahead, I imagine quite a bit will happen to Laura, especially now that the “Second Coming” crossover is running through the X-Books. How would you describe Laura’s mental and physical state at the beginning of “X-23?”
Laura is a tough girl, physically. Almost as indestructible as Wolverine. But that doesn’t mean much without the mental strength to back up that kind of power. Fortunately, Laura has plenty of resolve – incredible determination – and a ruthlessly efficient survival instinct. In other words, at the beginning of the ongoing, she’s ready to rumble.
The “X-23” ongoing spins out of the events of Jason Aaron’s new Wolverine series, where Wolverine’s soul is sent to hell and his body is inhabited by a sinister force. So I imagine part of the initial story will examine Laura’s feelings about Wolverine. Is that correct? And how would you describe Laura’s feelings towards Logan? Does she see him as sort of a father, or are her feelings towards him more complicated than that?
This initial story will definitely touch on Laura’s feelings toward Wolverine. Complex emotions, to say the least. Laura has never had a father figure whom she can trust. Most men have betrayed or used her – or they’re fellow soldiers, maybe friends – but that’s not the same thing. That’s not a father. That’s not the kind of adult nurturer whom she can rest her heart on. Now, a lot of kids never have adults in their lives who can be trusted, ever. But that doesn’t mean those kids stop looking, or hoping to find that one person who will take care of them (mentally, physically). It’s an elusive thing, an emotional hunger, that sometimes isn’t even consciously acknowledged.
Laura feels that hunger, but she doesn’t acknowledge it. She can’t. She doesn’t understand those kinds of emotions well enough to even give them a name, except that they make her hurt, they overwhelm her at times, and she doesn’t know why. All she can do is manage these feelings, divert them, bury them (sometimes with pain). She’s a girl who feels too much, and so, doesn’t allow herself to feel anything.
As such, Laura, on a superficial level, expects nothing from Logan. She acknowledges him as a mentor, a fellow fighter – the man she was cloned from. She respects him. She follows his lead. If this was a wolf pack, she’d be dominant – but he’d be her Alpha. On the surface of things, that’s as deep as it gets for her. He exists, she exists, they survive, and that’s that.
But deeper, much deeper, her feelings are different. Whether Laura is aware of it or not, she wants to be loved. She wants Logan to love her, as a father. She wants to know that she’s not alone, even when she is. Not alone, because someone out there cares. She wants Logan to be the one who cares. She’s a kid who hasn’t had many good people in her life, but he’s one of those good guys. And when push comes to shove, she will do whatever it takes to protect that tenuous, special relationship between them – even if she can’t admit, or articulate, what that is.
What can you tell us about the plot and themes of the opening story in “X-23?”
It’s about breaking free. Finding the strength to let go of what’s familiar. Learning how to take care of yourself, on a level deeper than the mere physical.
Will “X-23” have a regular supporting cast, or at least a rotating one?
X-23 is a loner at heart, but she’s been forced into a team setting for quite some time now. A pack, if you will. And those conflicting instincts to be alone – and with others – will continue to tug at her. So yes, there will be a rotating supporting cast – a couple of former X-Men who, against their better judgement, will try to mentor Laura. Or at least, be there for her when she needs mentoring. That won’t be without conflict, though – physical and emotional.
Moving forward, beyond the first story, what types of tales are you interested in telling in “X-23?” Will this series have a regular tone and feel to it? Does the character of X-23 lend herself to a wide variety of tales?
Yes, absolutely. Laura has lived through and seen more than most could ever imagine, or hope to survive – but she’s still a teenage girl who doesn’t know herself very well. I suppose that’s true of most teens (and grown-ups), though her particular baggage is spectacularly ripe for interesting stories.
Being such a tough and formidable opponent, what types of characters do you think make the best foils for her? Will you be pitting her against established characters? Characters of your own creation?
Established characters, in the beginning. As you said, Laura is very tough. But she’s also emotionally vulnerable in ways that she’s only just beginning to acknowledge. Some of her opponents, by necessity, will be big, bad, frightening – but others will be far more subtle and devious. Which, personally, I find much scarier.
Where will “X-23” take place? Will the action stick to a certain area like San Francisco, or will Laura travel the globe?
Laura is getting out of San Francisco. She’s cutting ties, learning how to be herself – exploring what it means to be herself, whoever that girl might be That can’t be done around all the people (say, the X-Men), who might drag her back into her old familiar patterns of fight and obey. So yes, she’ll be hitting the road, traveling. She might go around the world. She might spend some time in New York City. We’ll see. The point is, though, nothing is holding her back. She can go anywhere now. Be anyone.
Ultimately, how fired up are you for “X-23?” If fans respond and the series takes off, would you want a good long run with the character?
I’m so fired up. I’m incredibly excited to be working on this book, and deeply appreciative of the opportunity to do so. If fans respond, I plan on sticking around for a good long time.