Friday, March 16, 2012

REVIEW - X-23 Issue 21

X-23 #21
Story: Marjorie Liu
Art: Phil Noto
Cover: Kalman Andrasofszky

Approaching this issue as a standard issue just isn't possible. Whilst it leads on from the end of #20, it's more of an epilogue or a side-note than a true finale. Completely silent, it's more an artistic issue than a story one. Noto's art alone is all that's needed to move the story along, and he delivers.

After the events of #20, when Laura has decided which team she has chosen, she gets on a bike and rides off to her new life. One night she camps in the wilderness, and her dreams are invaded by wolves, giving her a strange sort of signal, one which leads to an important personal discovery, and perhaps even some inner peace

Liu's dialogue-free script and Noto's art work beautifully together in this issue. No words are needed, because some of the meaning is crystal clear. Laura is naked for a good part of this issue, yet it never feels exploitative or ridiculous. Noto's art is natural and his use of angles and Laura's long hair to avoid showing anything that might be considered 'rude' is cleverly done. It could only have worked with a few artists, with Noto being one of the few. I feel that it wouldn't have worked anywhere near as well with, say, Sana Takeda on art - the art style just wouldn't work that well.

My only gripes? Well, aside from Andrasofszky's cover which once again misrepresents the story and looks relatively poor, I don't really think I have any. It's quite a deep issue that passes quickly, so without knowledge of what it references (I believe Wolverine had a similar story), some of its meaning may pass readers by, as it did for me, but for those aware of the story it may provide some deeper meaning or just be quite a neat thing.

In conclusion, a good issue with a very personal focus, but sadly one with very limited appeal. Some of the panels were absolutely beautiful, and there's a panel on the penultimate page that really made my day. Recommended to those who've read the previous issues - there's little for anyone else, I feel. But I loved it, and definitely one of the best single issues I've recently read.

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