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Should X-23 Have Been Canceled?

Marvel places their only self-titled, female character driven title on hiatus; but is this the wrong move?

We all come here because of our shared love for comic books and comic book characters, right? And obviously, we all have our favorites. Now, while I can't speak for everyone, I can speak for myself when I say that I honestly don't discriminate between male and female characters when I pick up a title to read. There are a lot of male character driven titles that I absolutely love -- characters that I find dapper, interesting and compelling. To me, what usually piques my interest is whether a story is fun and entertaining. Usually.

X-23 #16
X-23 #16

Every once in a while though, I want to read a book where the story is being driven by a female character, and I don't think that's unreasonable. Being that I am a girl, sometimes I just want to read stories where the girls are kicking ass. That's not too much to ask, especially considering the number of male character driven titles out there. And yes, I know, the majority of comic book readers and fans are male, so the publishers will tend to target the male audience by printing majority male character driven stories. But does that mean boys don't like reading about powerful ladies?

Earlier today we reported on a certain Marvel lady who appeared to be missing from the February 2012 solicits -- and it's hard to overlook her, actually, considering hers is the only self titled female ongoing book at Marvel at the moment. After the release of issue #20 of X-23, say goodbye to Laura's ongoing series -- at least for now. According to many reports, that issue will be the final one in her series. What happened, though? Why the decision to cancel X-23 (if indeed that is what happened)?

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Comic books generally get the axe when editorial (specifically Editors-in-Chief) notice that the sales for a particular series is either low, or has relatively low expectations from the get-go. This is what caught me off guard when I found out about X-23's low sales. Looking at the total sales numbers for October, 2011; the series didn't seem to be doing that poorly -- it certainly wasn't the lowest selling title at Marvel. In fact, it only grossed a fraction worse than Hawkeye, and surpassed various other Marvel titles like AVENGERS ACADEMY, CLOAK AND DAGGER and several SPIDER-ISLAND offshoots. So what's the deal? Sure, placing 104 and selling 24,043 units for October isn't the best; but the series did manage to go up that month by at least 316 units. So what's the deal? Obviously, people are enjoying the series enough to buy it, so why put the series on hold?

X-23 listed at #104 for the month of October
X-23 listed at #104 for the month of October

We contacted the series' writer Marjorie Liu to get her take on Marvel's decision to omit the book from their February 2012 X-title solicits, but have yet to get a response. And with her busy schedule, we don't really blame her. Liu splits her time between writing novels, being a practicing attorney and writing X-23 -- or at least she did. In her recent blog she stated that she was "writing the lettering for X-23 #19" just last week, and that she had two more projects (which she couldn't discuss) in the works. Could these be more projects with Marvel? With #19 (almost) in the bag, it's no question that issue #20 of X-23 due on January 4th 2012 will be her last.

Still, the book seemed to be doing okay -- at least faring better than many other Marvel titles, so why give it the axe now? Yes, X-23 will soon be appearing in AVENGERS ACADEMY starting with issue #24 and she will also make an appearance in the upcoming VENOM six-part weekly event, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't continue to have her own book, should it? The end of issue #20 (the series' final issue) X-23 will return to Utopia to decide whether or not she will take part in Regenesis, but why should she lose her title as a result of the new story arc?

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It's not just that the series is ending (and the numbers seemed alright) it's that out of Marvel's total monthly releases, X-23 was their only self-titled, female character driven series. Yes, many other Marvel books have female characters that appear in them, but only ONE, X-23, had a woman at the core of the story. Liu was doing more than just writing an action packed, superhero book featuring a female character; she was also developing that female character. And to be honest, it's been a long time since many of the Marvel ladies have actually seen any character development. Are they afraid to publish books centered around the ladies? Unfortunately, this kind of news signals to many Marvel female readers that the publisher doesn't necessarily care, or is inclined to target them as an audience. Are female Marvel fans valuable to Marvel? If they were, wouldn't there be more female character driven stories?

To me, a good character and a good story will make me want to read the book, but there's also nothing wrong with a little bit of "girl power." I will definitely miss X-23's ongoing series, and I feel that the character has a long way to go and has a lot of room to develop further. Hopefully we will get that in other books. What does the cancelation of X-23 mean to you as a reader? Do you think Marvel needs more female driven stories? Check out the preview to X-23 #17 which is set to hit stores tomorrow, below.