With all the seriousness going on in the Marvel Universe right now with things like Fear Itself and Schism, it's refreshing to have a comic that's this much fun. Following her recent experience with the FF, Laura is asked to babysit Franklin and Valeria Richards. As one would imagine, the Richards children aren't easy to manage, even for someone with combat skills and metal claws, and Laura soon finds herself acting as both babysitter and dragon slayer.
This issue mixes action and humor, placing a superhero spin on a familiar story of babysitting gone wrong. Instead of giving bedtimes and rules about snacks, we see Reed Richards forbidding his children from playing with a nuclear reactor. And when the children do get into the inevitable trouble, it's trouble on an inter-dimensional scale.
Hellion's reappearance in X-23 is a smart addition to the story, given his past history with Laura. The tension between the two of them is strong, and adds an extra layer to the story beyond the lighter feel of the scenes with the Richards children without falling too far over the edge into unrelenting angst. Gambit's reaction to Hellion and X-23's altercation further establishes Remy as Laura's surrogate "big brother" figure, and Liu's carefully-crafted characterization comes across strongly in this scene.
With all of the chaos that tends to follow X-23 around, it's always nice to see her get the chance to act like a more normal young woman, even if her attempts to babysit do end in dragons. Liu has taken her on a good journey through the last seventeen issues, bringing her further away from being just Wolverine's female clone to a more fully-realized character capable of forming strong bonds with others and her own personality. Her connection with Valeria and Franklin is a nice new development, as her ability to show care and concern for children shows that while Laura may sometimes doubt it herself, she is a real person capable of her own emotions as well as empathy.
X-23 continues to be one of the best-written comics Marvel puts out, with storylines that respect continuity without getting too bogged down in "events." It's a comic that can be easily picked up by the casual reader and enjoyed separately from the Marvel Universe as a whole, while still being very much a part of it. The recent announcement of its cancellation is a sad one, and it's a shame that a book that manages to be witty, engaging, and fun while portraying a truly strong female character will soon be missing from the shelves.
Sara McDonald started reading comics in the third grade, and now puts her English degree to good use talking about them on the Internet. She currently resides in Western Massachusetts with a roommate, three cats, and an action figure collection and spends the time she isn’t reading comics working for a non-profit. You can visit her blog at Ms. Snarky’s Awesometastic Comics Blog.