Artist: Eric Nguyen
Colorist: Michelle Madsen
Letters by: Richard Starkings and COMICRAFT
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Many people associate Dark Horse Comics with horror and noir titles, but they are currently publishing some excellent superhero comics as well. Along with superb new superhero titles like Michael Oeming’s The Victories and Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle, Dark Horse is also revitalizing some of their old titles like Ghost, Blackout, and X. Debuting in the pages of the original Dark Horse Presents #8, X soon became its own series. I loved Dark Horse titles during that era (I still do). They helped to lay the foundation which would go on to shape my comic book reading habits to this very day. So of course I was very curious to check out the new X series, which debuted this week with X #0.
X is a violent vigilante whose methods would make Frank Castle himself nod in approval. I don’t always read superhero titles, but when I do I prefer them not to be of the one-dimensional, do-gooder variety. Give me more complex characters whose methods blur the line between hero and menace. The world is not a black and white place. Give me comics which reflect the varying palette of gray which makes up everyday life and social issues. And give me a gritty story with plenty of ultra-violence thrown in for good measure. This zero-issue of X manages to do deliver all this and more.
Here’s the synopsis which kicks off X:
Arcadia. The once-great American City is now a half-empty shell, barren after years of failing industry and political corruption, an overturned feeding trough for the criminal elite. Until the photos started showing up in the mail…
From there we jump into a world of mob bosses and unappetizing charcuterie. It seems the criminal underground is spooked. Many in their ranks are receiving mysterious pictures of themselves in the mail, adorned with a red “X”. Shortly thereafter, these people wind up brutally attacked and murdered. This vigilante has been dubbed “the X-Killer.” Without giving too much away, X #0 introduces readers to him and his methods as he tries to work his way up the organized crime food chain, while the criminals try to neutralize this new threat.
The story is pretty much standard fare for what you’d expect from the description above, with a few unique wrinkles thrown in. The pacing is quick, and overall quite enjoyable. We don’t learn much about our mysterious vigilante yet, but this is a zero-issue after all. In the original series, X’s motivations were somewhat shrouded in mystery, so we’ll have to see how it goes once the series really gets going. It would definitely be welcomed if this series ends up interjecting elements which really make the character of X stand out from the pack of mainstream vigilantes.
I dug the artwork. The illustration and coloring work very well together, collaborating to create a dark style punctuated by the many splashes of crimson bloodshed. Backgrounds and detailing in the vast majority of the panels make the entire issue feel very satisfying. I love the character design, which stays quite true to the look of the original. X’s costume has a punk/bondage-type aesthetic which appeals to me. Don’t look for any of the standard superhero footie-boots here. X wears some burly waffle-stompers and will not hesitate to put one up a bad guy’s… Well, you get the gist.
Overall, this was a super-solid first foray into the world of an old favorite. X #0 was done quite well all around. I won’t hesitate to pick up the next issue and come along for the ride. Looking for a mature superhero title outside of Big 2 comics? Consider giving this one a shot.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS