Tuesday, 3 September 2013

‘X’ # 4-5 : Swierczynski & Nguyen (Dark Horse Comics)

Way back when I first started reading comics, I always thought that the vigilante X was more of an incidental character in the ‘Ghost’ books. Shows what I know… X was one of the original line-up for Dark Horse’s ‘Comics Greatest World’ and had a series all to himself. Pretty bloody by all accounts although I’ve never read it. That will have to change now that X has been re-booted and is back with us courtesy of Dark Horse (I always like to compare where I can).

True to form, I’ve joined the series at issue four (will I ever start a series at issue one…?) but from what I’ve seen, I have to wonder if I’ve actually missed out on that much, it looks like you can just jump straight in here. Issues four and five are very much all about stand up fights without a lot of story to bulk them out. To be fair, it is early days for this new series and I’m sure that a story will come to fruition sooner rather than later. There are some interesting hints about what might be coming up (particularly in issue four) which means I’ll be following this series for a little while yet.

In the meantime though, it’s all about the violence and the lengths that men will go to in order get along in the urban wasteland of Arcadia (I’m pleased to be visiting again, I wish Ghost had stayed in Arcadia…) Nguyen doesn’t hold back on the gore and you get to feel every punch that Berkshire (a crime lord with a pig’s face, nice…) dishes out on X in issue four. It’s not just the art that makes this issue though, Swierczynski’s dialogue dovetails very nicely…

‘Want to know why I use that lock on my mask, George? It’s not to protect my identity. It’s to remind myself… To hold back.’

The panel that follows shows us in no uncertain terms what happens when X doesn’t hold back. It’s powerful stuff and you totally get why Leigh is left retching afterwards..

Issue five is currently up for pre-order so I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers. The Dark Horse site is carrying blurb though so I figure there isn’t too much harm in sharing.

Disguised as harmless suburbanites, “the Rents” are actually psychotic assassins, determined to take their place at the top of Arcadia’s food chain. Leigh delivers X’s traditional warning . . . but ends up in a construction-site firefight with some very unpleasant soccer moms!

What I will say is that while Tony Parker’s art makes for a nice change, Nguyen has the edge as far as I’m concerned and I’m looking forward to more from him. The story itself is very simple but offers another little insight into the weirdness that makes up Arcadia’s underworld. I’m looking forward to delving in further although I’m hoping to see some super powered villains in the future (just like the old Arcadia)

‘X’ then… A vigilante tale that looks like it could be a little bit more than a ‘gangster of the week’ being cut down by a masked hero (if X can be called that). I’ll let you know how it goes from here on in.

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