X-POSITION: Liu Slices and Dices "X-23"

One of the great debates philosophers have is in regards to the human soul. Does it truly exist? If so, what is it? Is a person's identity defined by their mind and memories or by this nebulous soul? And at what point is a soul created?

This last question holds particular interest for those living in a comic book universe, as characters frequently die, get resurrected or are cloned on a seemingly monthly basis. One character who is clearly struggling with notions of the soul is X-23, Wolverine's teenage female clone. She was created to do horrible things (and has) but she's working toward redemption....if there is a soul to redeem.

Scribe Marjorie Liu has the joyous task of writing this cute little bundle of claws and killing, and she's here to answer any and all questions in today's X-POSITION. She's sharpened her knives and wits, and she plans to slice and dice her way through reader emails. So let's not keep her waiting...

Our first question of the day comes from Chad. He's feeling a bit lost and is looking for a starting point. Can you provide him with one?

Having not been a reader of the "New X-Men" series, I feel like I've missed the boat on X-23. I read her original appearance in "NYX" and that's it. Where would you suggest is a good place to jump into reading about her?

You should definitely explore Craig Kyle and Chris Yost's "X-Force" run, where she had a significant role.  I also recommend the first volume of "NYX," as well as "X-23: Innocence Lost."  And, if I might be permitted to push my own run, check out "X-23" #1 and onward!

You are permitted and more! Renaldo has been following X-23 long enough to be an expert and sent in a couple of questions about influences:

1) You brought over threads of X-23's bloody X-Force days as well as her tainted and rough past, but what led to the Sinister reveal (as this seemed a dormant thread lately)? Also, the Alice influence and her history seem inspired by Milla Jovovich's "Resident Evil" -- are there any ties or is this just coincidence?

Actually, I chose the name "Alice" because I was thinking of "Alice in Wonderland" -- a girl falling down a hole into a strange world...which is sort of what happened to X-23.

As for Miss Sinister and Sinister (who I do promise to address in the future), there's some history there with the original Weapon X program that fascinated me... that, and Miss Sinister was on my mind after learning about her encounter with Daken.

2) How did you decide to make Storm a mother figure early on in the arc? And then you also gave a pivotal role to Gambit -- why? What inspired their usage?

I felt that X-23 needed some sympathetic adults in her life.  A person like her doesn't relate to kids her own age -- not easily, anyway.  What is she going to talk about with them?  Boys?  Clothes?  Movies?  The latest gossip on Utopia?  That's laughable.  I'm not saying that X-23 is like an adult -- far from it -- but her sensibilities are mature and not at all frivolous.

Storm was an orphan, a thief, forced to grow up at a young age and take care of herself under difficult circumstances; same with Gambit. If any two people could understand X-23 -- an abused child trying to make sense of her own life -- it's them.

Rory has also enjoyed the "creole seasoning" you've added to the book and sent in some inquiries:

1) I am one of many Gambit fans who love the way you've been writing our Ragin' Cajun, and I like that Remy LeBeau's role is on equal footing with Laura. Do you have any plans of touching on the Death aspect of Gambit? What would X-23's possible reaction be if she discovers that Gambit has a "dark" side?

Thank you!  I don't have any plans to touch on the Death aspect of Gambit, though I'd love to at some point.

And if Laura discovered that he had a "dark" side?  I suspect she would be rather understanding, given Gambit's own compassion toward her troubled past.

2) I must admit that I wasn't a big fan of X-23 at first, but now I am so touched by her struggles to hide her pain and loneliness while trying to maintain her "killer" façade. Any chance of a love interest for Laura in the future (even though you once mentioned that Hellion will not be appearing again anytime soon)? I am dying to see how Gambit would react, considering that he is acting like a father figure to X-23...

Er, funny you should ask...

No, really.  Hellion will be returning in #17, with Sana Takeda on art.

The Big G wrote in to celebrate an anniversary of sorts and wanted to know about the possibility of a reunion:

1) Looking back on your first year with "X-23," did you accomplish all that you wanted to? Is there anything you wish you could have added or done differently?

That's a hard question to answer.  Are there moments that I wish I'd handled a differently?  Sure.  But overall, I'm satisfied with this first year and I've learned a lot as well.

2) From the latest news, it seems Year Two of "X-23" has Laura returning to NYC. I seem to recall you saying that we would see Laura's old NYX posse eventually. Would it be too bold to assume that they will be showing up in the arc with the FF?

Sorry, they won't be showing up in this particular arc... though they will be mentioned.  X-23 certainly has not forgotten her friends.

Marcus Martin also hoped to find out more about X-23's upcoming trip and was curious if she was going to have any "amazing" discussions:

1) Given that X-23 is going to meet up with the FF in a future issue (and that Spider-Man is a member of the FF), could we finally have an issue where Spider-Man and X-23 team up and talk about the Spider-Man clones and their lives as a way to show X-23 that clones can have lives too?

Spider-Man and X-23 will definitely be teaming up (so much fun to write and see Phil Noto draw, let me tell you). I wouldn't rule out a conversation about clones...

2) How would you describe the relationship between X-23 and Logan and how would you say it differs from the relationship of Spider-Man and Ben Reilly?

Well, for one thing, X-23 and Logan don't share the same memories. They might be genetically similar, but both of them have lived vastly different lives that didn't intersect until recently.  There's no confusion either about who is the "original" and who is the clone.  In fact, I think X-23's genetic origins are beginning to matter less and less (to her) as the series continues and she becomes more fully her own person.

MarvelMaster616 had a couple of questions that cut to the quick:

Marjorie, you're doing an amazing job at making "X-23" one of my favorite books. For this, I thank you. Keep up the excellent work, and here's my questions:

1) Wolverine seems to have his hands full with both Jubilee and Laura, but Laura seems to be doing a lot worse than Jubilee. Can you talk about how he's planning to help her?

That's a good question, though I don't know if I have a great answer. Wolverine isn't going to stage an intervention, but in this case he doesn't really need to.  Just being there -- showing X-23 through his presence that he does care -- will go a long way.  I think, too, that Wolverine might also feel that Gambit has taken over his role as father-figure and mentor.

2) In recent issues, you dealt with a pretty serious theme -- self-mutilation. Why is X-23 resorting to this? How did her battle against Daken in "Collision" lead her to such a state?

She killed the innocent victims of Colcord's experiments -- and some of those victims were children.  She was able to put that aside during "Collision," but the memories are still with her... and so is the guilt.  Not just guilt for those deaths, but all the people she's killed over the years.  Guilt, like any powerful emotion, is difficult for X-23 to deal with, and pain is a safe response for her when she feels too much.

Speaking of marks on her body, Taurean was wondering about the decor on one of X-23's appendages:

Just curious -- what is up with that soul mark on Laura's hand? Does it do anything?

I will be coming back to the soul mark...

In addition to that mark, Drew would like to hear more about another aspect of Laura's soul...

Marjorie, I have been enjoying your run on "X-23." You have done fantastic work on Laura's character, and X-23 has become one of my favorite teen characters in all of Marvel. I was wondering if we are ever going to see that blue light from X-23's soul again (from #3). I thought it was a compassionate way for Laura to see herself in a different light...

Thank you!  I tend to think of that blue light as a symbol of Laura's mind and soul asserting itself, which means it's still there, inside her.  Does that mean we'll see it again? I don't know.  Maybe.

Mr. Suarez enjoys the silence and feels that you might as well...

Given X-23's stoic nature, would you consider writing an issue without any dialogue if given the go-ahead?

I think that would be huge fun.

I have nothing to say to that... but I do have today's "Behind the X" get-to-know-you question! According to your blog, you have spent a good deal of time in China. What do you miss most about that country when you're here in the U.S.?

Lots of little things -- the high energy, for one.  Nothing ever stops in Beijing (or Shanghai), and there are stories everywhere.  Take a walk through the city, and you just feel infused with a sense of possibility.  There's a lot of hope in China (things are so much better than they used to be), and there are many opportunities to remake yourself as a business person and artist.  You feel that in the air...

Another thing that can be felt in the air? Summer! And we're going to start it off right next week with the writer of "X-Men: Legacy," Mike Carey. Please come up with some shiny and sparkly queries, and email them my way just as soon as you're able. Throw an "X-Position" in the subject line, and I'll teach you how to make a slip 'n slide with Saran Wrap and a stick of butter. So hurry and get to it!

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