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Dr. Zander Rice is the main antagonist of the 2005 Marvel Comics X-Men storyline, Innocence Lost. The original comics version of the character is noticeably younger and more attractive than the film version, but is no less monstrous and depraved. He was one of the lead scientists of Weapon X's X-23 project, working with his surrogate father Martin Sutter to recreate the Weapon X project. The problem with recreating Wolverine was that no subsequent subjects had possessed Wolverine's healing powers, and as such none could survive the operation. Sutter therefore brought in geneticist Sarah Kinney whose job was to clone a new Wolverine for use in this project. Unfortunately the y-chromosome at the DNA samples that she had to work with were badly damaged. She soon realized that to create a new Wolverine, it would take at least a decade, but doing a female version could be done very quickly. Over Sutter and Rice's objections, Sarah went forward to create a female version of Wolverine, and thus Laura Kinney/X-23 was born.

To punish her, he only gave her minimal human contact to create a perfect killing machine. He then proceeded to gleefully perform torturous and horrific experiments on her, including having her kept in a padded room except during training sessions or assassination missions, almost kills her with radiation poisoning to trigger her healing factor at the age of seven, and surgically removes her natural claws one at a time, coats them with adamantium, then re-implants them-all of this without anesthesia-at the same age. He develops a pheromone "trigger" that activates her berserker rage and uses it to get X-23 to kill her kind-hearted martial arts instructor, and leaves her behind on a mission to be killed after he murders the other members of the team so he can claim they were taking fire and had to retreat. After X-23 shows back up alive, Rice then manipulates the head of the X-23 project, who had raised Rice after his father's death, into granting Rice control of the project, at which point Rice then sends X-23 to kill the man, his wife, and little son - even though Rice knows the boy is his own son from an affair between Rice and the wife before her marriage, despite also knowing that the boy was extremely young and vulnerable; X-23 leaves the child alive. Upon taking over the project, he begins the development of embryos X-24 through X-50, which he intends to sell to the highest bidders, and then taints the one remaining person X-23 cares about, the project scientist who was her surrogate mother, with the trigger pheromone, which causes X-23 to fatally injure the woman - just as she was about to take X-23, raise her as a daughter and disappear after destroying the project complex. Rice's reasoning for all of this is that his father, who worked on the original—Wolverine—Weapon X project was killed by Wolverine when he escaped, and Rice held X-23, who is Logan's genetic double, responsible for Wolverine's killing of his father.

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