PopCultHQ received an advanced review copy of X-23 #11 from Marvel Comics. Available April 10th, 2019, the creative team for this issue features writing from Mariko Tamaki, pencils from Diego Olortegui, inks from Walden Wong, colors from Chris O’Halloran, and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s Spoiler-Free Review of…
Age Rating: T+
On Sale: April 10, 2019
X-23 vs. Honey Badger!
But what could drive a wedge between these two sisters?
Meanwhile, X-23 digs deeper into the shadows of a secret new organization, HARVEST!
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
X-23 and Honey Badger set out to put an end to the nefarious work of Dr. Chandler. They’ll tear down anyone who gets in their way to do it, too. Including each other.
Taking over from Tom Taylor, who really built a world for X-23 and Honey badger to inhabit, must have felt like a daunting task from the outset. But Mariko Tamaki has proven herself the perfect choice to write their continuing adventures and maybe one day exceed her predecessor.
This is an issue written from a personal place and transposed over a daring mission. With both parts carrying the story as much as the other.
The sombreness and difficulty with which Laura communicates events truly feels as though the character is at pains to speak. The turn in attitude by Gabby into a bratty rebel who is still processing recent events is a great example of how to pump dimension into fictional characters.
There’s so much respect given to Taylor’s work before her, but also such clear vision and direction for where Tamaki wants her series to go. For a character derivative of Logan, it’s remarkable how un-convoluted the story is too, while still maintaining emotional complexity.
She writes the maternal/sisterly relationship between Laura and Gabby so well that she MUST be drawing on personal experience. If this issue was nothing else but dialogue, the gut-wrenching feel of its fallout would still kick. But distracting us with a great break-in works even better and proves that the writer of Tomb Raider, Hulk, and Adventure Time is one of many talents who can do it all.
The team of Diego Orlortegui (Slapstick, Ms. Marvel) and Walden Wong (Wolverine & the X-men, Deadpool, New Warriors) combine to ensure the action carries the right amount of urgency and angst that the story calls for. They do a good job of sneaking in character interaction amidst Gabby and Laura’s mission and build tension so well visually that the moment it comes to a head feels palpable. The choice of setting and angles in the more emotionally-driven moments are also instances where the art shines. They even find time for humor in their layouts. There’s a lot going on visually in this issue that the stripped-down style of the artwork belies. Right down to the effort applied to backgrounds and costume.
The enthusiasm and fun in Avengers: Back to Basics and the adventure and espionage themes of James Bond merge well in Chris O’Halloran’s color work in this issue. Maintaining the underlying sombreness of the narrative while still rendering the action in exciting tones, O’Halloran gets the balance and feel of the issue just right and aids the pencils and inks with distinction. Finding key moments for bright color as the Laura and Gabby stage a stealthy break-in is one of the many highlights in the colorist’s crucial contribution to making this issue a home run.
Cory Petit’s list of credentials includes work on X-Factor, Old Man Logan, Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men (to name a few). So clearly no stranger to the X-Universe. His work displays a keen understanding of how the letterer’s work must be tailor-made to the character of a story, not just the action. There’s the appropriate usage of Snikts, dramatic crashes, smashes, and more. But the strength of the lettering in this issue is where it aids the emotion in the exchanges between Gabby and Laura as their relationship deteriorates. As well as this, he makes sure to infuse the internal narrative of Laura with as much heart, visually, as his skills allow. A strong contribution from Petit that goes beyond the basic requirements a lesser letterer would contribute among their huge monthly workloads.
A terrific issue that kickstarts the latest arc while essaying exactly how it feels to regret our words and actions. This is a very accessible, easy to read, and entertaining series and issue #11 showcases everything that’s great about it.