Written by Mariko Tamaki, this issue begins with Laura and Gabby helping the police at the scene of a murder. Three scientists were killed in very similar fashions. It’s a great setup for a possible mystery, one that continues to build throughout the rest of the issue. I’m willing to say that the assassin is wearing a high tech suit, but to avoid spoiling a somewhat familiar, and unnerving reveal, I’ll just leave it at that. Whoever this assassin is, there’s also a well-armed team after them. For the first issue in a story arc, this is quite the setup.
This intriguing story is helped with a couple good moments for both sisters. Laura quickly figures out the assassin’s preferred mode of entry and exit, told mostly through the art. There’s a quick Gabby moment where she lets out a thinly veiled threat to a litterer, while smiling. There’s a brief yet intense fight scene between Laura and the high tech assassin, showing both Laura’s strategic skills and hinting at how dangerous the assassin could be. These are all great elements, but what should have been the comic’s best moment is held back by several lines that really shouldn’t have made it past the editors.
It’s a scene where Gabby is openly showing sympathy for the now captured assassin. One, Laura is being uncharacteristically judgemental towards someone who killed three people, especially given her past. Two, Gabby says “I’ve killed way more than that.” Yeah … the whole point of Gabby is that she’s what Laura should have been allowed to be – innocent. She’s never killed anyone. This scene could have easily been fixed by having Gabby remind Laura of her past instead, softening her up a bit. It’s a shame, because this is otherwise a great moment where they both realize that this is a familiar situation, even if Gabby acknowledges it more than Laura does.
The art by Diego Olortegui is good. The opening page shows Gabby in a lineup for ice cream with a fair amount of visual storytelling going on. There’s a variety of people in the crowds, unique looking business fronts, and Gabby’s grin as she’s handed her order is perfect. Laura’s focused look when she’s investigating the murder scene, along with her reserved body language, feels reminiscent of her early years as a mostly emotionless killer. The fight scene gives us a kinetic mix of kicks, both fighters dodging, and Laura stabbing through one of the robotic limbs during a block. Chris O’Halloran’s colouring is great. The somewhat faded look fits the comic’s art and tone well, while still giving us great use of shading, monitor glows in dark rooms, and silhouettes to keep things mysterious.
X-23 7 is a strong start to what could be a fantastic story arc. It fits right in with the general direction of this series, and X-23’s life direction in general. The big reveal two thirds of the way through leads to more questions than it does answers, and that’s a good thing at this point. Only a couple lines holds this issue back from being great, one of which betrays what Gabby is all about. I can‘t help but wonder how that possibly got past the editors. Half the time I can’t help but wonder if Marvel’s editors know what they’re doing. Despite that dialogue problem though, this is definitely worth checking out for X-23 fans.