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X is a classic Dark Horse antihero who before this issue I've only heard of, never read about. Surprisingly, despite this being a re-launch of the classic title and this being the second issue, this was an entertaining introduction to not just X but a few other characters and a simple story.
After sustaining a serious injury and, even worse, running into a persistent blogger, X goes gunning for the political ringleader of the crooked cops of Arcadia, a dangerous man by the name of Berkshire.
Duane Swierczynski's story is a tale that has been done to death. An antihero going after corrupt forces is a topic that has nearly been run into the ground. But several things keep this issue from landing in the uncreative scrap yard filled with comics of the same plotline – namely, and a collection of solid characters, a good progression of events, and, most importantly, this issue had a spattering of most likely unintentionally hilarious moments strewn throughout. I mean absolutely no offense to the writers when I say this either. This didn't take away from their work and could easily be overlooked if you don't overanalyze everything like I do. it just stroked my screwed-up sense of humor and made this comic a ton of fun to read.
The mysteries surrounding X's character keep me intrigued. He says very little in this issue and it makes him all the more fascinating. I'd suggest not looking at his Comic Vine profile since I'm trying to avoid as much about his previous incarnation as I can so his origins come as surprises. But I'm hoping since it's a reboot there will be some tweaks to the original character – that's what creative license is after all and I doubt fans will riot if X changes versus a character as prolific as Batman. And X is not only surrounded in mystery. He's a competent fighter, a fast-thinker and he seems to know no bounds in how far he'll go to achieve his goals.
His "friend" Leigh is a nosy blogger who provides all of the narration for this issue. X doesn't talk much but I can feel his annoyance for this woman. When he's bleeding in an alleyway and she starts talking to him, I can imagine he'd like to take his clenched fist and punch her in the face. What I like about Leigh is she's not a "reporter" but a "blogger."
The only issue? She posts about her romp with X in a little too much detail. Leigh mentions right in the post she knows where X is and could probably tell the police. Yes, she is using a pseudonym, but this is the police, they do have resources. Does she really think no one will check this out? Ironically enough, Swierczynski doesn't do what I thought he would by making everyone except X oblivious to Leigh's post just so he can avoid making the plot problematic. Instead, right after posting her blog we jump to a panel with Berkshire who's ordering the police to find the blogger.
Honestly, Leigh's mostly entertaining because of how incredibly stupid most of her actions are, which are made all the more hilarious when she points out to herself how stupid she's being. She's stalking a serial killer basically to interview him for a blog, not a paying job, and she doesn't even really know why she's doing this (her words, not mine). Apparently, that cliché about blonds should be changed to redheads. But Leigh is smart in other areas.
Leigh's narration can get a bit repetitive at times, including her annoying nicknames for her followers – or should I say "dear readers" and "kids." But her narration can also be really funny. Also, despite the occasional narrative gripes Leigh provides so much insight into the story that I didn't feel lost even though this was the second issue of the series. She made me feel completely comfortable with what I was reading and provided me with just enough back-story to understand what was going on. It may be simply more repetition for readers who perused the first issue, but to newcomers it is great.
X's target in this issue is Berkshire and he also managed to make an impression. He has his fingers in everyone's back pocket and after his face time with X I'm curious to see what he'll do when he meets him again.
Despite the idea of the story being routine the execution of it is good. Immediately Swierczynski puts us into a suspenseful situation with X fleeing after being injured. He shows off how quick-thinking X is, then gives us some important exposition from Leigh. All these moments are both moving the story alone and developing the characters. The best scene has to be towards the end when X uses some serious and clever methods to get to Berkshire and what he does when he gets there involves a pretty gruesome display of panels. This is all topped off with an ominous ending. The only major lingering question I have is, X allowed Leigh to live after she discovered his secret lair which seemed to have the ending make no sense. Why didn't he just kill her at his base? There's also a counter in the corner on some pages keeping track of the number of days going by. Is this really necessary for the story?
The artwork by Eric Bguyen fits the gritty tone of the story. The rough-looking edges to his artwork add to this grit. X's costume could lose the cape but it has a practical, real-world quality about it. The costume doesn't look professionally made with a sleek look. Instead, it looks ruffled and he has what appears to be a bulletproof vest over his chest. His black costume is perfect for the dark, brooding mood of his character and the X takes me back to the awesome Red X costume in Teen Titans even if it takes a step outside of the practical by making an easy bulls eye.
Leigh's character design is great. Her red hair something really likeable about the colors because it really fits with her spunky personality.
There is one panel which is awesome. For you horror hounds out there, X slices up this one guy's face so bad he ends up looking about as appealing as a Cenobite from Hellraiser. Truly a face even a mother couldn't love and he survives, too, along with the unintentional humor this comic seems to partake in because not only does this guy survive, he manages to gurgle out a few curses. I've never met anyone who's had their throat cut but I don't think this guy would've been able to do much of anything, let alone lift up a gun like he does.
Colorist Michelle Madsen's bleak color scheme can both add to the tone and be kind of "blah" to look at, especially the dull sky. But I love the color of Leigh's hair, pink, which pulls together her entire character design.
The mysteries and futures of the characters could turn out to be abysmal in future issues, but right now? Like I said before, this is the first time I've ever read a story about X and I'm not disappointed. There's enough mystery to keep me invested and I'm interested to see what happens to X, Leigh and Berkshire. It makes me want to go out and buy the first issue to see if I can pick up on any more detail about the characters and the story. There are some off things in this comic, like the unexplainable plot points and how unintentionally funny some characters and moments are, but honestly that added ten times to my enjoyment of this book and I think it's the reason I wanted to review it. This may turn out to be just a guilty pleasure, but I couldn't have enjoyed it more!