Many flocked to the theater earlier this month to catch what is ostensibly Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine. While the titular character was Logan’s main draw, there was a breakout star: Dafne Keen as his genetic twin, X-23. Jackman may have been the film’s star, but Keen stole every single scene that she was in.
Comic book fans are notoriously difficult to please. We have strong attachments to our favorite characters and always want to see them done justice. Logan – very loosely inspired by Old Man Logan – somehow managed to please both fans and critics, and gave Wolverine’s story the ending that it deserved.
If you saw the film, but aren’t too familiar with the comics, we’re sure that your interest about X-23 was piqued. She is a fascinating character, who by now you probably know, has taken up the mantle of Wolverine in the wake of Logan's death.
Ready for some inside info on the infamous Laura Kinney? Here are 15 Things About X-23 Only Comic Fans Would Know.
15 Her first appearance wasn’t in comics
Much like another beloved character, Harley Quinn, X-23 did not get her start in the comics. Harley Quinn’s misadventures began in Batman: The Animated Series, while X-23 made her first appearance in the much beloved, but largely forgotten X-Men: Evolution. Interestingly, Tara Strong has, at some point, voiced both characters.
Created by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, X-23 first showed up in the eponymous episode. Blaming Wolverine for all her troubles – which were many – she went to the mansion and terrorized the X-Men. Seriously, she took out everyone!
By episode’s end, she was pitted in a fight with Logan and it was a battle that he had no desire to win. She finally broke down, and Logan, being the only one who could truly understand her, was able to comfort Laura. He helped her escape from Nick Fury, but it wasn’t the last we’d see of X-23 in the Marvel Animated Universe.
14 Her first comic book appearance had nothing to do with Wolverine
NYX was an awesome book that few people actually remember for anything, save its introduction of X-23 to the comic world. A dark story about homeless teenage mutants living on the streets of New York City might’ve been a sad way for Laura to make her comic debut, but it made so much sense. The girl had been through enough for ten lifetimes (see next entry). The most interesting part of Laura’s foray into comics though, would have to be the absence of another clawed mutant: Wolverine.
The only connection between Laura and Wolverine in NYX were the similarities between them, which extended well beyond a power set. While the two characters are often mentioned in the same breath, it’s important to remember that X-23 is so much more than a female version of Wolverine. This has been proven by her complicated comic book journey. From the start, NYX established Laura as her own mutant, with Wolvie nowhere to be seen.
13 She is not actually a clone
When X-23 was introduced, many thought that she was a clone, but Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost clarified in X-23: Innocence Lost that this was not the case. Laura is not a mere clone of Logan, but rather his genetic twin. Doctor Sarah Kinney was tasked with cloning Wolverine. However, the one genetic sample that they had was damaged and Kinney couldn't salvage the Y chromosome. Luckily, she had a brilliant idea: Why not make this weapon female?
Kinney's bosses were not onboard, so she was forced to covertly continue the project. She was eventually found out, but her superiors agreed to let her continue. As punishment for her insolence, Kinney was forced to be the child's surrogate. After the 22 unsuccessful attempts that preceded her, Laura, aka, X-23 was finally born. Doctor Sarah Kinney was the only mother she ever knew.
Although Kinney attempted to remain detached from the child she would come to call Laura – she was meant to be nothing more than a weapon after all – Kinney loved her like a daughter. She was the one that wound up helping the girl escape.
12 Only her claws are laced with adamantium
By now you are well aware that X-23 has two extendable bone claws in each arm and one in each foot, as opposed to Wolverine, who has three in each arm. That’s not the only difference between them, though. X-23 does not have an entire skeleton coated in adamantium. The only parts of her bonded to the near-indestructible metal alloy are her claws.
One of the doctors involved in Laura’s “upbringing”, Zander Rice, exposed her to radiation poisoning at seven years old. The purpose of this act of torture was to activate X-23’s mutant gene. They needed her healing factor to be fully functional in order to take the next step in their twisted plan.
The good doctor pulled out Laura’s claws and coated them in adamantium. Following that, he reinserted them into her hands and feet. The most horrifying part of the procedure was the fact that Rice didn’t use any anesthesia on Laura. She eventually killed him, before thankfully escaping from the facility.
11 She has a trigger scent
Adamantium claws weren’t the only thing that Dr. Rice gave to X-23. He also created something known as a trigger scent. Basically, Laura catches a whiff of this stuff and she goes straight berserker. This cruel conditioning mechanism has caused X-23 an incredible amount of pain, beginning with the death of the only mother that she had ever known – by her own claws.
When Laura was making her getaway, she killed her tormentor. However, Rice got the last laugh. He exposed Sarah Kinney to the trigger scent before Laura got to him. X-23 flew into an unstoppable rage, killing Sarah and completely powerless to stop herself from doing so.
Sarah protected Laura with her dying breath, making sure that the girl knew that she was more than a weapon; that her name was not X-23, but Laura. The last thing Sarah did was show her pictures of the Xavier institute, Professor X, and Wolverine in order to help Laura on her way.
10 Her past is more troubled than Wolverine’s
We all know about Wolverine’s tortured past, but Laura’s young life was far more brutal. Sure, she escaped from the monsters who created her, but her path to freedom was fraught with anguish. NYX found her living on the streets of NYC – although X-23: Innocence Lost would later reveal that this was after unintentionally murdering the closest thing to a mother that she had. Laura’s life as a teenage prostitute began after a pimp named Zebra Daddy took her in.
During that time, Laura used self-mutilation to help her get through stressful situations. Just because her wounds would immediately heal, doesn’t make the behavior any less heartbreaking. Laura was raised as a machine who had no idea how to become a person. She barely spoke and was seemingly unable to extricate herself from Zebra Daddy.
It wasn’t until she met Kidden and her companions, who were also young mutants, that Laura finally began to claw her way out of the depths of the hell that she had been living in. In one incredibly empowering moment, X-23 protected her newfound friends by killing her pimp. Eventually, Laura found her way to the Xavier Institute, where she learned how to be more mutant than weapon, but it was a long, difficult road.
9 She was a member of both X-Force and the X-Men
Laura was enrolled at the Xavier Institute, but left and returned more than once. In the wake of House of M, X-23 was one of very few mutants who retained her powers, which made her invaluable. She was briefly a part of Uncanny X-Men and joined a team for good in New X-Men. It was with the latter that she truly began to form real relationships with her teammates. She even developed a crush on Hellion. However, this wasn’t the only X-team that Laura was a part of.
During the events of Messiah Complex, Cyclops knew that getting the infant – the first mutant born since M-Day – was a top priority and assembled a team that would do so at all costs. X-23 had long since proven herself and this incarnation of X-Force included her, Wolverine, Wolfsbane, Caliban, Warpath, and Hepzibah. In the wake of the explosive events that followed, Cyclops chose to reform X-Force as a black ops team to preemptively deal with threats against mutantkind. Although Logan cautioned Laura about joining this new X-Force, saying that it would rob her of the humanity that she had fought so hard for, she actually saved Wolvie’s life on one of X-Force’s missions.
Not only was X-23 involved with several different X-groups over the years, but she also wound up at the Avengers Academy. The invitation for Laura to come to the Academy came from none other than the Black Widow herself, Natasha Romanoff.
8 Her official X-Men codename is Talon
Pretty much all of the X-Men have real names and X-Men names, though they are often more commonly referred to by the latter, even amongst each other. However, Laura is rarely called X-23, although sometimes she is simply called X. More often than not though, Laura is just Laura. This is fitting when considering that her mother’s dying words to her were meant to instill that she does have a name, and it's not X-23.
While we all know Laura as X-23, she actually has a far less-used moniker, which is her official X-Men codename that never quite stuck: Talon. It seemed that Kyle and Yost were going somewhere with this when they created it in New X-Men, but for some reason, it didn’t really catch on. Perhaps this is because everyone was already so used to her being X-23.
X-23 is only her weapon designation, so while there are precious few references to her official codename, Talon, it makes sense that she would have one.
7 Pixie was her roommate
Whether you love or hate Jubilee, her rapport with Wolverine is undeniable. Part of what made their dynamic work so well was the fact that they are complete opposites who manage to complement one another. The same can be said of Pixie and X-23.
After moving with the X-Men to San Francisco, X-23 roomed with the pink-haired, winged mutant, as well as with Armor. Her relationship with Pixie was similar to Wolverine’s with Jubilee. It was the juxtaposition of dark and light. Laura and Megan became quite close and, after everything that Laura had been through, it was awesome to see her form attachments.
X-23 had spent the better part of her life being convinced that she was nothing more than a weapon. However, the connections that she found with other mutants her own age – as well as with a surly, clawed grownup with whom she shared much in common – helped to show Laura that she could be so much more.
6 She had a relationship with teen Angel
One of the more divisive, but nonetheless, awesome X-books of the last five years was All New X-Men. Even if you haven't read it, you may be familiar with the lasting impact that it has had on the Marvel Universe. Scott Summers had basically become a zealot and Beast, who had admittedly, run out of ideas, decided to bring the five original X-Men out of their time and into the present. So, we now had a teenage Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and yes, Jean Grey, running around, which led to some pretty great stories.
As far as X-23 is concerned, Avengers Academy became Avengers Arena – Marvel’s own Battle Royale – which led to an amnesiac Laura running around in the frozen wilderness with Purifiers on her trail. Luckily, she ran into the original X-Men, although of course, this was a confusing development for her.
Initially, the sparks were flying between Laura and young Scott Summers, but when that didn't work out, she and past Warren Worthington III became an item. What began as a fling did develop into a deeper relationship between these two characters, though they weren't without their problems. Warren thought Laura was too impetuous and she thought that he was too overprotective.
Their romance continued into both the next volume of All New X-Men and All-New Wolverine.
5 She's tight with Gambit
One of Laura's most important relationships is with this much maligned, yet very beloved mutant. Gambit took an interest in her when she was in desperate need of a friend. Remy LeBeau understood what it was like to come to terms with a dark past. He became a sort of mentor to Laura and came to truly care about her. He was even able to calm her down when the dreaded trigger scent made her fly into a murderous rage.
The relationship shed light on a softer side of the “Ragin’ Cajun”, who did everything that he could to help Laura realize that she wasn’t alone and to prove to her that she could trust someone. He also had a tremendous amount of faith in her and had a great deal of insight into what she was going through. Gambit and Laura went on several missions together, even teaming up with Wolverine and Jubilee. Their friendship is one of Laura’s most important relationships.
4 She assassinated a presidential candidate
X-23 was bred to be a weapon. Her ersatz parents may have disagreed on how to raise her, but ultimately, she was trained to be an unparalleled assassin. She was just ten years old when Rice sent her on her first mission: assassinate presidential candidate Greg Johnson. It wasn’t just that X-23 slaughtered him, as well as everyone else who had the misfortune of just being there, but the way that the entire mission played out.
X-23 was sporting glasses, had her hair in pigtails, and was wearing leg braces. Who would ever suspect an innocent little girl? Her first field test was a huge success, seemingly setting her fate in stone.
From then on, Laura killed on command, at least until Sarah finally decided to help her get out. For a time, Sarah Kinney was just as much a victim of circumstance as Laura. She may not have started out as a sympathetic character, but by the time X-23 killed her, she had become one.
3 She has an alternate reality counterpart
Despite its namesake, the 2005 miniseries, X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, by Akira Yoshida and Chris Bachalo, doesn’t share a ton in common with the famed ‘90s storyline. It actually changes many key elements from the original. One of the most interesting aspects of alternate timeline story arcs – as much as many comic fans detest them – is seeing the counterparts of all of our favorite characters. X-23 has one of these and she goes by the name Kirika.
Kirika is the daughter of Wolverine and Mariko Yashida. Logan was initially unaware of her existence and the poor girl wound up the property of Mister Sinister. After Apocalypse fell, Kirika was found in one of Sinister’s labs in a container labeled X-23.
Unlike Laura Kinney, Kirika has three bone claws that retract into her arms. She was tragically killed in the pages of Rick Remender’s amazing Uncanny X-Force, during the “Dark Angel Saga”.
2 She has sister clones
Although the four sisters in All-New Wolverine are not the only instance of X-23 being cloned – there were also five clones discovered during the “Songs of the Orphan Child” arc in X-23 – the replicas in her current book are different. First, Laura faced off against an assassin and it wasn’t until after the girl died that Wolverine realized the assassin was wearing her face. Alchemax Genetics asked Laura to track down the surviving three, Gabby, Zelda, and Bellona, who apparently blew up the lab where they were created.
However, finding the girls left Laura much better informed. For one thing, they didn’t blow up the lab, but were instead, being hunted. For another, Laura knew that she had no choice but to protect them. Thanks to nanite technology, these girls had no ability to feel pain, which had consequences that extended beyond the obvious. It was literally killing them. After some help from Doctor Strange Laura wound up stealing the Ant-Man suit to save them! On the edge of your seat? Follow Laura’s continuing adventures in All-New Wolverine!
1 Doctor Strange declared her a worthy successor to Wolverine
Laura worked so hard to save her “sisters” when many wouldn’t have bothered. She knew that they deserved salvation just as much as she did. When Laura brought Gabby, Zelda, and Bellona to the Master of the Mystic Arts, Stephen Strange wasn’t initially convinced. She explained to him that there was a time when she too, appeared to be beyond saving and insisted that he scan her with the Eye of Agamotto, as he had done to the others.
What Doctor Strange saw was both frightening and horrifying. However, it was also inspiring. He saw the adversity that Laura had triumphed over, how she had risen above a life rife with tragedy to become a true hero. In this way, he knew she had already honored Logan’s legacy and he told her as much. Although Laura had already donned the mantle of Wolverine, a stamp of approval from the Sorcerer Supreme is pretty impossible to top.
This was further confirmation – of the highest order – that she was truly on the right path. After so many years of trying to figure out how she could possibly fit into the world around her, Laura has finally gained some self-acceptance. She not only knows where she belongs, but also that she’s earned her spot there.
What other facts would only comic fans know about X-23? Let us know in the comments!