Previously in X-23’s new solo series written by Mariko Tamaki, the Stepford Cuckoos brought back their long deceased sisters. While the five in one initially enjoyed their reunion, it didn’t take long for Esme and Sophie’s new bodies to start rotting. In a desperate attempt to save their sisters, they sought out another family of clones to transfer their minds into – ones whose bodies could regenerate themselves. Laura and Gabby to be specific. However, Mindee clearly has doubts about this plan.
Meanwhile, Laura’s dedicated her life to stopping programs similar to the ones that created her, her sister Gabby, and other people bread specifically to be weapons. At the end of the second issue, her quest was interrupted when the Stepford Cuckoos initiated their plan. With Sophie apparently dead, they only needed one new body for Esme’s mind. They kidnapped Gabby, and Laura spent most of issue 3 tracking them down into an old church. The previous issue ended with the Cuckoos activating the machine.
The first thing I should say about this issue is that it feels really short. I’m not the fastest reader in the world, yet it took me 2 minutes to get through this comic. The writing is good, focusing mostly on dialogue that slowly reveals what just happened. It also nicely sums up the history of the Stepford Cuckoos for those who don’t know. But like I said, it’s a very short read. Most of the action is told more through Juann Cabal’s art, and it’s very good art. The energy being thrown around by the machine looks like a weird mix of lightning and squiggly lines, which feels just right. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotions, like Mindee’s genuine concern for what’s going on, while the other two look more annoyed than anything else. There are also a couple evil grins that, with the added touch of greyed out skin, look downright creepy.
Because this comic takes place mostly in this abandoned church and the surrounding woods, there aren’t nearly as many Easter Eggs as normal for Cabal’s art, but that helps one focus more on the story. There’s clear progression of Laura’s wounds healing after she’s thrown by a big explosion, from fully exposed bones, to singed flesh, and finally skin that has blood on its side. The fact that she’s stumbling with her first few steps is a nice touch. Nolan Woodard’s colouring is fantastic as usual. It often adds to the creepy mood with darkened shadows and clearly manipulated skin and eye colours as a result of the machine’s work. Yet there are also pages that are bright and colourful to balance it out.
This is a good comic. It’s an intense penultimate chapter that sets issue 5 up for an intense and potentially weird climax. Besides that it’s hard to talk about this issue critically. Besides maybe Mindee and Esme, nobody is acting like their normal selves, and they shouldn’t when everyone’s minds seem to be trading bodies. Anyway, this comic, and this story arc, is worth reading for fans of either set of clone sisters. My only complaint is that it feels a bit too short. But that’s a complaint that could potentially disappear after I read this story arc in full.