As I mentioned in my review of X #0, I was there – back in the early 1990’s – when X first premiered on the streets of Arcadia. In those early exploits, he was little more than a mysterious vigilante – a man cloaked in as much mystery as he was bloodspray – but readers had no doubt when the masked man committed himself to a task he’d see it through. And to a certain extent, he did just that in for his city: he took charge, and he killed the bad guys. X even went so far as taking a trip to Washington DC where he told meddlesome Congressmen to stay out of Arcadia. Sadly – as happens with titles that suffer from low readership – it came to an end all too soon, but thank goodness Dark Horse has resurrected X from the dead in order to bring his particular brand of justice to streets so badly in need of it.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to my last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Picking up nearly immediately after the events of X #0, police officers arriving on the scene of some grisly murders believe they’ve been exposed to the doings of a new psycho killer on the loose. A chance discovery points them, thankfully, in the wrong direction, but now X has something more to worry about: ‘the last muckraker’ – an internet journalist who’s hell bent on getting to the bottom of who’s behind these Mafia assassinations – sniffs out a lead. Before all is said and done, the female journalist may find herself face-to-face with her worst nightmare!
To add more would spoil the plot, but, suffice it to say, X #1 is largely a bridge between the events that went down previously and where this title will inevitably head. It’s quieter and more meditative than #0 issue, but there’s still enough blood, guts, and action in these lean, mean 24 pages to excite enough testosterone in me that I’ll be back again in 30 days. Arcadia is a grim, seedy place – an urban shrew definitely needing to be tamed – and X just might have the stones to do it.
God knows he has the muscle.
X #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is by Duane Swierczynski; the art is by Eric Nguyen; the colors are by Michelle Madsen; and the lettering is by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. Plus, there’s a really nifty cover by Dave Wilkins. The issue bears the cover price of $2.99, and it’s bloody well worth it in body count alone.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. It’s a hard-boiled world into which the most relentless heroes (and anti-heroes) go, and X is no fairy tale. It’s bold and violent. There’s a real-world mentality to it all not all that dissimilar to what Christopher Nolan did with his impressive Batman trilogy, but this isn’t a place for superheroes. What passes for heroics here is a vicious, sweaty mindset that operates by simple rules: in order for good to survive, evil must die. This is Dirty Harry if Dirty Harry wore a mask and never thought twice about putting a crowbar through a mobster’s face. If that’s what you’re looking for, then look no further. X will happily provide.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with an advance digital copy of X #1 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.