To me, this is an X-Men-ized & far darker version of `GunslingerGirl.' (which is already quite dark) of the age-old question, `Who is really the monster?' & the reverse of an age-old question, `At what point does a man become a machine?'
I've never been one for super heroes; nothing against them, they simply aren't my genre of interest. However the X-Men have always been an exception for me, with their captivating villains, back stories, & genuinely complex social explorations. & with its thick science-fiction atmosphere, heavy subtext, & rich emotional honesty, I can sincerely claim that X-23: Innocence Lost is a must read for all X-Men fans, maybe even for all comic book fans in general.
Dr Sarah Kinney has been called to a science institute to assist with the assembly of a new `weapon X', a clone of the escapee human-engineered super mutant `Wolverine'. But Sarah's been numb for a long time now, emotionally detached from humanity, & doesn't realize it until too late--she is creating a child, not a weapon.
The story's backbone is of parental love & loss of freedom; with perhaps the most monstrous villain I have ever seen for the fact that we watch him grow from an envious & arrogant doctor into something not human who doesn't even realize how truly evil he has become--& even more chilling is that he is not an over-the-top villain but someone who you could actually & unfortunately meet; & is aided by a grimly black climax & surprisingly upsetting ending.
There is a potent emotional & disturbing power behind this work & it haunts you long after closing its covers.
Despite some flaws in the art (occasionally odd body proportions), the unnatural yet vivid color palate somehow intensifies the cold, lonely feeling of isolation, & the characters are given soul-filled eyes that pierce.
So what is the answer to this question...?
4.5 stars rounded up.
I would also recommend the rare-to-find series 'NYX: Wannabe', the first 2 exhilarating volumes of `New X-Men: childhood's end', as well as 'X-23: Target X' by the same authors, though all pale in comparison to this inspired gem.