She may be the best at what she does now, but in X-23: Deadly Regenesis #1, we find Laura Kinney not quite at her Wolverine best.
X-23: Deadly Regenesis is a limited series following the titular heroine not as she currently exists on Krakoa, but rather, as she did back during the Utopia era of X-Men comics a decade or so ago. This younger iteration Laura has overcome the worst parts of her early life, but that doesn’t mean she’s in the clear just yet; she’s still got her nemesis former handler on her tail. How can someone move forward and overcome their past if their past won’t leave them alone? That’s the question that has defined Laura Kinney for her whole existence.
The inherent risk with any prequel is the possible reiteration of established events without adding anything “new” to them or expanding on aspects that might have been overlooked originally. Revisiting older eras of beloved characters is actually a pretty common tactic used by Marvel and DC in their vast publishing slates; giving long-term fans a shot of nostalgia is nothing new in the comic book world. Sometimes these manifest as revisionist takes on the material, but they’re (more often) fidelitous to the specific setting and play it straight.
X-23: Deadly Regenesis seems to be doing the latter based on this first issue, more or less presenting itself as an extended flashback to the late 00s/early 2010s of X-Men comics without a high concept involved or a modern-day framing device bookending it. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, and stories should “need” a reason to exist, but I do wonder if the series at-large will add anything to the Laura Kinney saga that we didn’t already have before. Readers may know that the antagonist of the piece, Kimura, eventually gets hers in the end, so writer Erica Shultz has the challenge of finding a new source of dramatic tension to hook readers. The introduction of a new, previously unseen adversary spices things up, but it does raise the question of just how much of a threat they are to Laura if they’ve never come up since the events depicted in this series. I’m interested to see if Shultz can find an angle for revisiting this era in a way that enriches the character’s overall history rather than rehashing it.
As for the look of it, Edgar Salazar does a great job of emulating the feel of that specific era without it feeling dated or overly derivative, which does a lot of work to convince the reader they’ve been transported back to this specific era. It seems the goal of this series is to make it so that, hypothetically, someone could read every Laura Kinney-focused comic in chronological order without it being too jarring, and on that level X-23: Deadly Regenesis succeeds. As for whether it not it transcends the flashback-y premise, that might remain to be seen.