From X-23 to Wolverine: The Origin and Life of Laura Kinney
Writer Erica Schultz and artist Edgar Salazar delve into the past of the toughest and most tragic X-Man around their new series ‘X-23: Deadly Regenesis.’
In her relatively short life, the mutant Laura Kinney has squeezed in a lot of living and a ton of trauma. While her current existence on Krakoa represents some stability for the former assassin, proud X-Man, and Wolverine, getting there rarely proved easy.
With series X-23: DEADLY REGENESIS rolling out in comic shops now, writer Erica Schultz takes a look back at a particular period in Laura’s life, one where she sought identity and confronted her past whether she wanted to or not. Joining this journey is artist Edgar Salazar. X-23: DEADLY REGENESIS #1 has already delivered heavy action (and a dose of introspection) and can be picked up in print and digital comic shops now!
We spoke with both creators about their input on this pivotal series, what makes Laura Kinney an enduring character, and much more.
Where did you first encounter X-23?
ERICA SCHULTZ: As a reader, I was first introduced to Laura through the Marjorie Liu-written series. There were several terrific artists on that run that lasted 20+ issues. I [then] read ALL-NEW WOVLERINE (2015) and the other X-23 series, so I was very familiar with the character in the comics. I hadn't picked up the NYX (2003) storyline which was earlier than the previous titles she was featured in, but I knew she had been created for the X-Men: Evolution animated series which I loved.
What do you think has led to Laura’s longevity as a character?
EDGAR SALAZAR: Laura is a very interesting character. She certainly has big issues for all the things she endured in her origins at the Facility, where she was created to be something that she did not want. But she stands to be something else: her own person; and I think that reflects on the readers, as most of us try to figure that out at one moment in our lives.
ERICA SCHULTZ: You could really ask the same question about Logan/Wolverine, too. Why do we find these characters so interesting and compelling? I think they show us the worst and best of humanity. Both Logan and Laura have done horrific things—literal war crimes—but their want and need for penance is admirable. Both have acted and been treated as animals, so to see them find, explore, and expand on their humanity is a really interesting storyline.
How did this particular project come together?
ERICA SCHULTZ: If I'm being honest, [editors] Mark Basso and Drew Baumgartner reached out to me last year about doing a limited series for X-23, and I jumped at the chance. She was a great addition to the X-Men: Evolution TV series in season 3, and her inclusion in the Logan movie just got my hopes up to see more of her. Little did I know I'd be adding to her lore.
EDGAR SALAZAR: My editor Mark Basso who I already worked with on a WARHAMMER series asked me about it, and I immediately said yes, even though I didn’t know that much of the character. I knew that she is a clone of Wolverine (Logan) who is one of my favorite characters, so I certainly wanted to be part of it.
What level of research did you both do into older X-23 material to prepare for this assignment?
EDGAR SALAZAR: Mostly from the first issues of her 2010 series, which worked very well as it is the period where our story starts.
ERICA SCHULTZ: Since I was already familiar with the character, I reread all her appearances just to get her voice. Since the story is set in the Utopia Era, Laura is still being socialized, so her speech is pretty robotic. She only really shows anger as an emotion, but we've made sure to expand on that. [Laughs]
What was the allure of a story set in this particular era?
ERICA SCHULTZ: I'm the first one to say that there's never enough Laura. [Laughs] I think she's a really great character who could always use some more play. In terms of setting the story in Utopia instead of Krakoa, it allows us to be able to delve deeper into those early X-Men/X-Force days and find out where the hurt is. It's like psychotherapy for the character.
Issue #1 of DEADLY REGENESIS is really two parts: a level-setting introduction of Laura and then we jump into the larger plot. Why did you think this was an effective way to start the series?
ERICA SCHULTZ: While writing this, I didn't want to alienate readers unfamiliar with Laura, so we give a bit of an overview of who she is and where she came from. Also, for readers who are only familiar with her current iterations (Old Woman Laura and resurrected Laura), I wanted to show [those readers] where she came from and some of the obstacles she's had to overcome to get to where she is.
Also, the first issue of the series is 30 pages rather than the standard 20, so we had room to add in some backstory.
How is the Laura we encounter in DEADLY REGENESIS different from the Wolverine that fans might be more familiar with today?
ERICA SCHULTZ: This Laura hasn't taken on the mantle of Wolverine yet. She's worked on X-Force, and she's feeling alienated by the other young mutants on Utopia. At Logan's suggestion, she takes a kind of sabbatical to find herself. She's a killer, but Logan, knowing that path, doesn't want that to be all she is. He's had decades of time to figure himself out, and he wants to make sure that Laura gets the same consideration.
Edgar, stylistically, who are your influences when it comes to drawing Laura?
EDGAR SALAZAR: I have lots of influences on my art in general, but I don’t think any came consciously when drawing Laura. Mostly I think more of her emotions which play a big part on her state of mind at the moment, and try to go from there. I also tried to put [in] some Wolverine expressions when she is angry, as she shares so much with him.
You get to briefly touch on a lot of the X-23 costumes—did you have a favorite?
EDGAR SALAZAR: Oh yeah, the original, all black when she was in the Facility; I think that’s really cool and badass.
Was it fun to play with Kimura, a classic figure in X-23 mythology? Will her role here flesh out the character given how few times she’s shown up in the past?
ERICA SCHULTZ: Kimura gets more play here than she has in the past, for sure. I think fans will be surprised to find out just how remorseless she really is. She's a true villain, and it's kind of scary to think people can be that bad, but…hey! It's comics!
Where did the idea for Jordan, X-23’s opponent at the end of the issue, come from?
ERICA SCHULTZ: Jordan (AKA Haymaker) is a character who is going to force Laura to confront her past. The easy thing to do is to run away, but Laura needs to do the hard work, and she needs to not only reconcile her past, but be forgiven by some people. Forgiveness isn't guaranteed, and that may be a tough pill to swallow for Laura, but it's all part of the road to finding out who you are.
Can we expect other X-Men and Marvel Universe mainstays to appear in future issues?
ERICA SCHULTZ: Since this is a book that takes place in the past, you'll definitely see loads of different characters popping up on the page. We've hopefully struck a nice balance of old and new with this one.
Pick up X-23: DEADLY REGENESIS #1 in print and digital comic shops now, and grab issue #2 on shelves April 12!
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