Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda have delivered yet another issue of X-23 that is as good of a read as it is visually stunning. The second part of the "Misadventures in Babysitting" arc starts with X-23 facing the dragon who took Franklin and Valeria issue at the end of the last issue. Laura's attempts to rescue the children from the dragon offer both a compelling story that sucks the reader in and sets the tone for the fast-paced action/adventure feel of the rest of the comic, but also give a good showcase for Takeda's art as the dragon flies through the New York City skyline.
And just when it seems like Laura has a handle on things, it all goes wrong again, first with a botched attempt to "help" by Julian Keller, and then a sudden flash of light that takes Laura, Julian, and the children into another dimension. Laura and Julian's interactions as they search for the missing children are well-paced, adding romantic tension to the story without slowing down the action too much or making the comic feel too full of teenage angst. Instead, Laura's restarted relationship with Julian serves to further develop X-23 as a character, showing a side to her that, despite all she's been through, is very much a teenage girl who doesn't know how to deal with feelings she has for a boy. Their conversation is at turns awkward, sweet, and heartbreaking, and Liu makes the reader care about the outcome of what's going on between them.
Laura's continued concern for the Richard's children is also apparent, and it's a good humanizing element that takes her beyond a science experiment created to be a killer. Laura continues to come into her own as a character, showing her ability to form her own bonds and become her own person. As she says to Julian when he asks if she's joined Wolverine or Cyclops, she says, "I am not working for anyone. I do not choose a side." As this series draws to a close, we're given a Laura who's more than just a girl version of Wolverine, but a character who has gone on a journey to find her own voice and purpose, and has come through as a character you can empathize with and want to watch succeed.
The "Misadventures in Babysitting" arc has been full of twists and surprises from the beginning, and this issue continues to take unexpected turns, right up to the last page. If this enjoyable, well-written series has to end, at least it's going out on a good note.
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.