Sadly, the final issue of X-23 hit the stands last Wednesday. I love X-23. She’s an amazing character. Sure, some creators have handled her better than others, but overall Laura is one of my favorite female characters in the Marvel Universe.
That’s why back in November when Marvel announced that X-23 had been canceled I was outraged. X-23 was the company’s last solo-book starring a female lead! They had already canceled their female-starring Ghost Rider series! How could Marvel do this?
Then I realized that I hadn’t purchased a single issue of X-23 or Ghost Rider. It’s my fault they were cancelled.
I’m a feminist. I’m a proponent of strong, well-written female characters. I love badass superheroines. But, it seems that not only did I neglect to check out a single issue of Ghost Rider but apparently I couldn’t be bothered to buy a single issue of one of my favorite female character’s solo series, either.
After I got off my high horse about it’s cancellation, I decided to actually buy an issue of x-23. I picked up x-23 #20 and gave it a read. Now I’m even more ashamed that I let X-23 get cancelled because apparently it’s an amazing comic.
X-23 #20 is probably one of the best superhero comics I’ve read in a long time. Phil Noto does a solid job as the artist and Marjorie Liu story was far better than anything I was expecting. The book is well-paced and manages to be accessible to new readers while at the same time being firmly grounded by previous X-23 stories.
While searching for direction in life, Laura runs into to a pimp from her past. After some crude comments from the pimp, Laura and Jubilee make quick work of the man’s guards (and his groin). This encounter sets Laura off on a mission to dismantle the pimp’s empire and free his prostitutes and sex slaves.
It’s a powerful story and Noto manages to deliver some particularly chilling panels that I will not soon be able to forget.
Superhero comics have traditionally served as male wish fulfillment: the farm-boy can take off his glasses and fly, the nerd can swing in at the last minute and save the girl, and a young boy can gain the power of the gods with the mere utter of a word. X-23 #20 continues this trend of empowering wish fulfillment while turning the troupe on its head with a young woman who castrates the oppressor, frees the slaves, and ultimately finds her own way in a messed up world.
However, it should be noted that Liu’s script does more than just revel in a wish fulfilling revenge story. The fact that prostitution is a complex issue is addressed when a recently “freed” prostitute reprimands X-23 and Jubilee for taking away her job and her home. Acknowledging that the issue can’t just be punched into submission or thrown into the sun speaks to the work’s maturity.
I want to read more comics like X-23 #20. I wish that more people (including myself) who want to read socially conscious comics would have checked out the book sooner. In an industry ruled by dollar signs and pre-orders, if we want more comics with well-written female and minority characters then we have to make sure that a book like X-23 doesn’t slip through the cracks again.