You can never truly appreciate a character until you witness and fully comprehend where they've been and what they've endured. Sure, you can read a wiki to learn all about a character's origin, but it just doesn't deliver the same punch. The origin story for Wolverine's genetic twin is dark, emotionally gripping, and has a conclusion that gives me goosebumps every single time. Innocence Lost by Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle and Billy Tan isn't only a must read for people interested in X-23... it's a must read for anyone searching for a solid and engaging limited-series.
As we all know, X-23 comes into existence during an attempt to create a new version of Wolverine... you know, one that hopefully wouldn't go berserk, slaughter a bunch of people and then escape. Dr. Sarah Kinney is brought into the facility in an attempt to clone and create Logan 2.0. When she realizes it would be impossible to accomplish this, she does the next best thing: creates a female genetic twin. The concept is initially shot down, but she successfully moves forward with the new proposal and the innocent looking X-23 enters the 616 universe. This adorable child won't be met with love and affection, though. From here, she'll be treated as a tool for slaying targets, not a person with emotions.
What follows is an emotional ride as Kinney grows connected to the weapon while the heartless Dr. Zander Rice treats her like an animal. Why is he such a terrible, terrible person? It turns out his father was killed by Logan some odd years ago and, despite Laura clearly having no connection to the event, Rice has decided to take out all of his hatred on her. However, his despicable methods won't end with X-23. His actions in this six-issue series will leave you disgusted and he's a character you'll likely love to hate -- he's that evil. Yes, it's a story that draws strong parallels to Wolverine's own origin (as it obviously should) and has some tropes we've seen plenty of times before, but to dismiss it as a carbon copy or unoriginal would be a massive mistake. The twists and turns are bound to make you gasp and overall it's a beautifully twisted and touching tale.
While there's a fair share of murder and mayhem, artist Billy Tan rarely takes the book in an overly graphic direction. That said, there's absolutely moments where we're treated to close ups of how deadly X-23 and her adamantium claws can be. Every now and then we're reminded how easily those pointy objects can end a life with one thrust to the chest or head, but despite this, the book never comes off as feeling too gory or over the top. It's certainly an impressive feat seeing as we're dealing with a book that's essentially a child slaughtering dozens of people. It seems like a ridiculous concept yet the creative team pulls it off with a much more grounded feel.
Honestly, you shouldn't say you're really a big X-23 fan until you've read Innocence Lost. It's essential reading for the adamantium clawed character and does a more than thorough job creating a memorable origin story. Not only will you know the key moments that helped mold her, but it will also help you appreciate the massive strides she has taken as a character over the years. Now let's hope she makes it out of AVENGERS ARENA in one piece...