X-23 #14

ComiXology summary:
Guest-starring the FF and Spider-Man! A cosmic force is tearing apart New York, and targeting X-23, Sue Richards, and Spider-Man along the way. What strange connections do these three heroes share, and is it the key to saving the city and the world?

My wife is an intermittently glorious person. She fell asleep in X-Men: Days of Future Past… But at least she deigned to watch it with us. She stayed up for the entirety of Guardians of the Galaxy, at least, and was willing to discuss which Flores family member was which Guardian (despite other disputes we all agreed that Clark = Rocket).

Early on when we were dating I bought her a Brian Michael Bendis Ultimate Spider-Man trade for a Christmas present. “You said you liked the art!” I said, indicating that I had been paying attention to something she had said. Rather than being grateful for the expression of a skill that would dull over time, it turns out that she had just been making conversation during one of the interminable treks to the comic book store that she endured on my arm. This did not end up one of the best Christmas presents she had ever received.

Writes a hell of a True Detective recap, though 🙂

But years later, overhearing some nerd-conversation about Wolverine, she interrupted, “Oh! I like that one!”

I raised an eyebrow.


“He’s so handsome!”

In her mind “Wolverine” is a six-foot-two, manscaped Australian Broadway star.

Not, you know, a five-three hirsute Canadian animal-samurai.

It’s not her fault. She saw X2 in the theater with me!

Ask any X-fan in 2015 to conjure a mental image of Wolverine and they are likely to pick a similar path to my better half. Wolverine is no longer small and squat. He loses a bit of his maniac underdog quality; we lose quite a bit of scale.

I am a sucker for scale.

We’ve had some really cool posts here on Fetchland over the first couple of weeks (I’m looking at you, Kitchen Table Gaming video), but my favorite thing so far is still the Jurassic World comparison chart I did in response to one of bdm’s “who’d win” questions:

Indominus rex



Ultimately I think that is the main reason I like this X-23 cover by Kalman Andrasofszky cover so much… X-23 is just so much smaller than the Thing.

We think of any and all superheroes — especially combat-oriented ones like the daughter of Wolverine — to be physically invincible in some general sense. Fast, strong, tough, skilled, merciless… We lose the ability to differentiate in some morass of “well [s]he could kick _my_ ass”. Perhaps its fair insofar that Peter Parker could either out-box a normal man with Spider-Fu or break him with super strength; that Reed Richards could either deck one of us mere mortals from across the room or surround and suffocate with that body that flows like elemental water… And those are the geniuses! It is only when we pair some juggernaut against another that differentiation becomes interesting. Well maybe X-23 couldn’t really beat the Hulk, we might start… But she’s probably tough enough mentally to stand up to him.

I like scale differentiation because it is one of the few things that puts superhuman or de facto superhuman feats of violence into context. A “master swordsman” of impeccable deadliness from George R.R. Martin’s universe is still probably going to suffer in a one-on-one confrontation with a bear. Imagine the scale difference between a bear and one of Dany’s baby dragons. Now a baby dragon and a full-grown wurm of Middle Earth; finally a Smaug and a kaiju from Godzilla or Pacific Rim.

We suspend our disbelief to an unreal degree every time Daredevil knocks out a hallway full of gangster toughs. We nod in the faith that he will prevail against whatever threat the writers put against him. An Avenger, we simply accept his billy club would defend the entire seaboard from one of the aforementioned kaiju, if need be.

X-23, who in other contexts just falls into a general bucket of “she could kick my ass or any living, real, human” (a la Daredevil) looks positively miniscule against Ben Grimm.

I mean she is giving him a badass look, and I have no doubts that if push came to shove she would dive in with both feet (kung-fu kicking, no doubt) but the idea that at her weight she could do anything to move — let alone injure — that rocky mass seems laughable. I am not convinced that her claws could meaningfully penetrate his stone armor (even if she somehow mustered sufficient force behind a blow).

That’s the gift of Andrasofszky’s cover: a real, more-or-less good faith, comparison between two uber powerful combat-oriented superheroes. No matter whose name is sitting in the upper-left, I have little doubt of who would win, push comes to shove, claw comes to cosmically-irradiated dinosaur hide. This is a rare gift, and much appreciated experience.

The only thing that is weird to me is that they used Andrasofszky at all. Phil Noto is the interior artist of this issue of X-23; besides being a generally awesome artist, Noto is himself used to shine up other artists’ books with his inventively laid out and colorful colors. No complaint, really (like I said I love this one for the almost brutal honesty of the scale depiction), just a little puzzled.