(Note: This is spoiler free!)
Mariko Tamaki’s run writing X-23 has to be one of the lightest reads out there. It makes sense since Laura Kinney isn’t exactly a big talker. X-23 is a great read for anyone who’s just getting into comics or even a comics-veteran who’s looking to add something quick.
The action is sick. The art as a whole has really taken a step forward since Diego Olortegui took over as penciler, Walden Wong as inker and Chris O’Halloran as the colorist in X-23 #7. (JP Mayer and Scott Hanna joined Wong for X-23 #9.)
Certain artists just fit better with certain characters. Olortegui and company highlight Laura’s tough exterior, giving her the badass feel she deserves.
The art leading up to that X-23 #7 was good, but it had a lighter feel to it. It felt like there was a level of innocence in the goings on when that really shouldn’t be the case with X-23. That might’ve been a better fit if it was a Honey Badger book.
Which brings us to the larger point.
Honey Badger, a.k.a. Gabby, has been the best part of Tamaki’s writing. Don’t get me wrong, X-23’s action still reigns supreme in the book, but that’s not enough to carry this story on its own—as is the case with pretty much any book.
But Gabby’s goofy nature has worked as the perfect foil to her “sister’s” brooding, intense personality. Honey Badger is still innocent in many ways, despite her past and her, well, initial purpose in life. You can see that with her empathy for other characters that have attempted to cause her harm.
And she’s quick to hide all the darkness in her and Laura’s life with jokes—which is, honestly, her most redeeming quality. Gabby is fully aware of what takes place around her but always manages to bring some levity to the situation.
Co-creator Tom Taylor did some more great work with her in X-Men: Red, but with it being a team story he only was able to use about one quip per issue. Though those moments stood out, there’s more to Honey Badger. And right now, the only place to get the appropriate amount of Gabby is in the ongoing run of X-23.