There are moments in X-23’s head that are drawn in a style quite unlike drawing and more like sratchpaper etchings rendered by an amazingly talented third-grader. Those moments are when she is confronted by the strange character of the Gamemaster. Not the most prevalent of X-foes, but his use here makes some sense, and the art works to accentuate the mental jumble in Laura’s mind as she confronts an unseen, unwanted, stalkeresque foe.
The encounters in X-23’s mind travel alongside the journey of her thoughts and the caption boxes Marjorie Liu provides us. Those encounters are the most interesting piece to me, but they only comprise twelve of this issue’s pages. Liu brings in Jubilee for what turns out to be a red herring, and then leaves the story idea for dead, forgetting about Jubilee’s concerns the moment Jubilee leaves the comic. It doesn’t strike me as sloppy work, but the caper Jubilee was working on seemed like it would have been a bit more compelling to read.
The art is decent enough. As I mentioned, the scratchpaper pages are the best of the book. Those pages are deceptively simple, but beautiful in the arrangement, composition and color. The rest of the book is dingy and dull, mired in ink-heavy art that can’t decide if it wants to be a clone of Humberto Ramos or Skottie Young, so it falls limply onto the page and remains flat. I would be willing to bet this is the only comic ever to have Wolverine in it and never really show him as distinctly recognizable as Wolverine.
The story of X-23 has never compelled me to care, as it (combined with the unveiling of Wolverine’s real identity, and the broadening of his “family”) cheapens the mystique of Wolverine. This issue doesn’t do very much to change my opinion. My interest in the character has been limited to my reading of “X-Force” and honestly, I only read that book because of Warpath.
“I can change,” X-23 claims in this story. I hope she does. I hope against hope, however, that someone can find a reason to make me care about this character.