Review by Karl Verhoven
With Marvel expanding the Wolverine franchise, it was inevitable his genetically cloned female counterpart X-23 and genuine son Daken would meet. We should be thankful the task fell to Marjorie Liu and co-writer Daniel Way, who’re interested in more than claws against claws, although that’s not entirely neglected.
Collision merges the continuities of two separate titles, and heading into the story X-23 is accompanied by Gambit, as seen in The Killing Dream, looking for a man named Malcolm Colcord, persecutor of mutants, while Daken wants to control the world from the shadows. As you do. A fair amount of pages pass before X-23 and Daken actually meet, and by then we’ve been lured into the criminal activities of Madripoor, where a group of children have been rescued from a slave trader and an annual meeting of gangsters is being held. Daken is conniving, but perhaps not as a manipulative as he thinks. He’s not even the most prominent character, that role being taken by Tyger Tiger, Madripoor’s ethical crimelord. She’s complex, practical and so interesting that when X-23 finally makes an appearance, you’ll have forgotten she was cover-billed.
Daken meeting X-23 was considered an Event, so why couldn’t Marvel have scheduled matters ensuring that at least the core chapters toward the end were the work of the same artist? Instead the pages are transferred around like a game of pass the parcel. The sample spread is the work of Ryan Stegman, but almost everyone is talented. Giuseppe Camuncoli’s gangster work resonates, but perhaps an artist other than Sana Takeda might have made more of the shark sequences she’s given. Otherwise her pages drip talent, and conversely, while never poor, Agustin Padilla’s pages are slightly more ordinary than the artists he’s matched against in Collision. Some consistency would also be nice. A man seen having his fingernails removed in one chapter looks to have had a pedicure in the time for the next. That scene’s gruesome, as are several others, but much is implied, not shown, even in Marco Checchetto’s blood-spattered final chapter.
When Daken and X-23 do come together, it’s a very clear case of right versus wrong. Daken is the sinister man with an agenda – “I’m watching the store. I’m watching everything. Including you.” – and X-23 provides the righteous claws of justice. Liu and Way twist events and perspectives from chapter to chapter, some motives clearer than others, and Daken especially contradictory. The existential questions feel bolted on, ballast rather than substance, and Gambit works well to begin with before becoming increasingly less relevant, but Collision is a readable page turner from start to finish. Daken’s story continues with Big Break, while Chaos Theory continues X-23’s life. The chapters where Daken and X-23 actually meet are also available in the second volume of X-23: The Complete Collection.