X-23: Comic Book Origins

Written by Craig Butler

Nature or nurture? Whichever, this assassin turned hero eventually came out on the good side. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of X-23.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 2005’s X-23 Vol. 1.

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Superhero Origin: X-23

Nature or nurture? Whichever, this assassin turned hero eventually came out on the good side. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of X-23.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 2005’s X-23 Vol. 1.

X-23 is one of the most bad-assed superheroes in the Marvel canon – which is saying a lot. She essentially has all the powers associated with Wolverine of the X-Men – including those adamantium claws and a greatly enhanced ability to heal quickly. And trust us, she needs them.

X-23, whose real name is Laura Kinney, debuted in the X-Men: Evolution TV series before popping up in some 2004 issues of NYX. In the comic book’s story arc, X-23 was originally a prostitute who specialized in clients with a kink for pain. She soon joined up with a group of mutant teenagers, but her origin was left unexplained.

That got taken care of the next year, in her self-titled mini-series. Readers found that Dr. Zander Rice was working with a man named Martin Sutter to recreate the Weapon X project. Rice’s father had been part of that project, which grafted an adamantium skeleton onto Wolverine and turned him into an assassin. His father had also been killed by Logan when Zander was but a child.


The problem was that no subsequent subjects had possessed Wolverine’s mutant healing power, and so none could survive the operation. Sutter therefore brought in geneticist Sarah Kinney whose job was to clone a new Wolverine for use in the project. Unfortunately, the Y-chromosome of the DNA samples she had to work with were badly damaged. She soon realized to create a new Wolverine would take at least a decade – but to create a female version could be done relatively quickly.

Over Sutter and Rice’s objections, Kinney went forward with her plans for a female version of Wolverine. To punish her, Rice forced her to be the surrogate in whom the clone embryo would be implanted.

Since the goal of the project was to create a totally obedient killing machine, once the child was born, she was given only minimal human contact. As her mother, Sarah was given sufficient time with her to ensure a proper amount of developmental guidance. Laura was also trained in martial arts by a sensei who also managed to regularly sneak in a few moments of kindness and human bonding with her.

Against Sarah’s objections, Rice grafted an adamantium skeleton onto Laura – without the use of any anesthesia. The seven-year-old was also given a special “trigger scent mechanism” - a certain scent triggered a killing response in her. Rice used this scent on her sensei, forcing her to murder him in cold blood.

Having successfully programmed her to be a killing machine, Sutter and Rice sent her on a mission that resulted in multiple casualties – and establisher her value as an operative. They then begin hiring her out to anyone willing to meet their steep price. But Rice, filled with hatred at her because Logan had killed his father, sent her on what was supposed to be a suicide mission. A Mission X-23 survived.

Rice turned this to his advantage. Unbeknownst to Sutter, Rice had an affair with his wife, Rachel. The son that Sutter supposed was his own was actually Rice’s. However, overcome with guilt, Rachel intended to tell Sutter the truth. Rice sent to Laura to kill them. She quickly took care of Sutter and Rachel – but found herself unable to follow through on killing the child.

Her unwillingness to kill the innocent child let Sarah know that there was a soul buried deep in Laura. She developed a plan to rescue her – and needed to move quickly. Rice was developing an entire army of clones like Laura. Once they were viable, he wouldn’t need her anymore. Sarah instructed Laura to kill Rice and destroy all the clone embryos, which she did. Unfortunately, Rice managed to rub some of the trigger scent onto Sarah – and so Laura was forced to kill her own mother.

Laura escaped, eventually ending up in New York – where, as we saw, she eventually found a group of other mutant teenagers. And from there, she eventually joined forces with the X-Men and met Wolverine. With careful training, she has overcome the conditioning that made her an assassin and is now an admirable superhero. Following Logan’s death, Laura took on the identity of Wolverine – and showed that she is the perfect person to follow in his footsteps.

X-23 is one of those rare characters who started out as a TV character before making a successful jump to the printed page. Since assuming the mantel of Wolverine, her profile has been raised even higher – and she’s likely to show up more frequently in Marvel TV and film properties.

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