Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Juann Cabal
I’ll put it right here at the start, there will be spoilers for this issue. I try to avoid them, but there’s not really a way to talk about this issue without them. So, consider this your SPOILER ALERT.
Things are getting serious for X-23. Gabby, her clone/sister, is kidnapped by the three remaining Stepford Cuckoo sisters. Their plan is to transfer the mind of their fourth sister, Esme, into Gabby’s body. We last saw Laura rushing towards Gabby to stop the transfer, seemingly too late.
Now, in X-23 #4 we find out, yes, she is just a little too late. The mind transfer ends in an explosion and Esme now inhabiting Gabby’s body. Being thrown out of the building by the explosion, Laura wakes up with a voice in her head. Needing her help, Sophie (the fifth Cuckoo) is inside Laura’s head.
I enjoy Juann Cabal’s art, I’ve never had any real problems with it. But this issue takes it to a whole new level. Laura takes some serious damage after the explosion, missing a good quarter of her face, and other chunks of skin. It looks gruesome, and there was some wincing on my part. Besides that, Esme in Gabby’s body looks creepy, and evil, but still Gabby. All around the art in this issue is fantastic. I don’t have any negatives to say about the art. Even if I did, they’d be the tiniest nitpicks ever.
I’m not the most knowledgeable X-Men fan, so I don’t know if the Stepfords are acting in-character or not. But, I’m really digging what Mariko Tamaki is doing here. Bringing back a sister, only to immediately decide to kill another is straight evil. Laura, obviously, seems ready to kill, and I can’t blame her since Gabby is seemingly dead. It’s a very Wolverine thing to do. I like the evil trio. The speaking in unison, combined with the creepy Esme/Gabby hybrid leader is great. Again, I can’t complain about the story, it’s just solid.
I was not expecting anything that happens in this issue. I’ve been part of fandoms where “If ____ dies, we riot!” is thrown around a lot. For a few seconds that was my thinking, before I remembered Gabby is alive and kicking (literally) in X-Men Red. I don’t think Gabby is dead dead, at least I hope she isn’t. She’s an essential part of Laura’s story now. The art is impressive, and the story is fantastic. This is a very strong issue, and I’m really looking forward to continuing reading this series.
X-23 #4 continues the story of Laura vs the Stepford Cuckoos. Mariko Tamaki’s story is strong, and Juann Cabal’s art pushes it to another level.