Comic Book Review: X-23 #5
Normally when you;re dealing with the Stepford Cuckoos, you expect that your mind is going to be messed with to some extent, but not like this. Not when they have decided to cross the line of no return and take Gabby from Laura. I don’t think there’s a worse crime to commit to someone who is like Laura or Logan. Last month’s issue was a roller coaster for these sisters who are fighting to keep their loved ones alive and kicking. You fear for Gabby, but also fear for the Stepford Cuckoos.
As I said before, the Stepford Cuckoos aren’t united, they’re not all unkillable, and they’ve knocked on the door of the wrong monster. Not to mention they aren’t even aware of the existence of a sister who is not ready to let them continue down this path. This is a recipe for disaster in so many ways, but you want to see this through to the bitter end. That truth hit hard in this issue when the turning point for the sisters wasn’t just Mindee who was uneasy on their plans. It was the sudden emergence of Sophie who managed to clear up the whole situation at hand. There were many ways that this fight could have gone, but you somehow knew that this would all come down to the sisters not being able to stay on the same page about their motivations. I’m pretty sure most of us knew what we were in store for from the minute Esme took Gabby’s body and began her first line of villainous monologue. From there it was hint after hint that this was not going to be the reunion that everyone hoped for.
The horror of this chapter was understanding that Laura wasn’t the worst that these sisters had to fear. It was pretty much the foolishness that this was a family worth putting back together. Not for the way that they lost their two sisters in the first place. It was as if they had over the time forgotten what Esme had done to put herself six feet underground. This final stretch of the story came and went pretty fast, but I enjoyed the intensity of the scene set for the confrontation. It mattered to take that time to draw a line in the sand between Esme and everyone else. No one here is perfect or innocent, but none of them had worse plans than Esme and willing to throw everyone under the bus to get what she wants. I’m not going to lie, I myself got so caught up in the action that it was easy to overlook how this was going to end for Esme.
What I loved about this story arc is that at the end of the day they never let go of the exploration of what it means to be a clone. The sadness that comes with the lack of identity, the anger at being nothing more than a clone at the end of the day, and the frustration of not having much that is truly your own. All things we don’t get to touch upon too often.
The artwork for this issue was just as appealing as the others, with the added flair of effort that went in this being the climax of the story. Things looked just a bit differently with an extra hand on art, but there was nothing significantly different that this was something for you to get distracted by. Because of how short these issues tend to be, the art team does an excellent job of executing each action that is decisive and to the point. There wasn’t too much hacking or slashing. Just the things that came with necessity on either end to bring the fight to an end. Certain things did stick out when it came to the Cuckoo sisters with that said. First was the appeal of the lettering to distinguish Sophie from everyone else, next was the red used to show intensity for when one of them steps up in power. What was most memorable was bringing us back to those normal moments where you could embrace the bond between Laura and Gabby. The contrast in faces they make, matched with the body language that speaks to the affection is something that can’t be beat.
X-23 #5 brings this story arc to a close, and I do have to say that when all is said and done that this had been a bold story to tell. While the focus on clones was uniquely taken from Laura, Gabby, and the Stepford Cuckoos, this at the same time changes the direction of the Stepford Cuckoos dramatically. They’ve always been characters who come and go to help under special circumstances, but where do they go from here? What kind of life will they live now that they have made such a poor decision? Only time will tell, but for now this story was engaging for what it was.