Wednesday, December 26, 2012

X Marks The Spot... Reboot Edition

All the cool kids are rebooting their comic book lines these days, so Dark Horse have decided to join in. It started a few months ago with Ghost, and now it continues with something that has me unreasonably excited: the return of X!
Way back in the dim dark past when I actually posted content to this blog, I had a bit of a thing for this guy. The regular series was written by Steven Grant and had a host of excellent artists throughout it's 25 issue life. It's been collected into two volumes, which I recommend highly. Now it's receiving the reboot treatment via Dark Horse Presents, with the aim for an eventual stand-alone series. So I thought I'd take a look at it.

This new story is written by Duane Swierczynski, with art by Eric Nguyen. While I can't claim to be overly familiar with Nguyen's work, Swierczynski's proven himself to be pretty decent - I enjoyed his run on Iron Fist and the new Bloodshot over at Valiant has been enjoyable. At the very least, he's shown he can write violent characters with a decent use of tough-guy talk (one of the things I LOVED about Steven Grant's work on the character). Obviously things are going to be updated with a reboot, but I was anxious to see how the team handled what I consider to be the core aspects of the character. They only have 8 pages to play with, but I felt they acquitted themselves very well.

The story kicks off with some resident bad guys having a meeting about the costumed vigilante. We're immediately re-acquainted with the basic operating method of X: marking people for death.
There's the intimidation aspect of sending characters photos of themselves; the creative team also keep alive the old device of people encountering objects that form an 'X', in this instance while X himself is carrying out a hit.
The only difference I'd point out is that in the original series such a sign would indicate impending death for the 3 people in the panel, whereas this occurs after the intended target is dead. So it would appear it's not going to be handled quite the same, but I'm happy to see the idea still present.

Next up, it's established that X is very driven and pretty damn tough. After catching a bullet in the arm, we see him in an alley rendering first aid:
That had to hurt. No indication from this if his regenerative powers are present in this incarnation - this could merely be to stop the bleeding while the wound regenerates, or it could be a necessary patch to stop him bleeding to death. We shall see.

Right at the end, we get the first taste of dialogue from our "hero".
I assume this is interrogation rather than a slow death - X was never one to prolong things, although he was not above trying to pump someone for information. To be honest I could've done without all the blood (on this and page 3), but that's a tiresome trend in comics that's unlikely to go away any time soon. Plus it drives home the uncompromising attitude of the character, that he's willing to hack limbs off to make a point. Maybe that's pushing the character a bit more into the realm of 'psycho' than he was previously (and he was pretty psycho to begin with...), but it'll be interesting to see where they go with it. X's own dialogue didn't set my world on fire, but it's his first words we're hearing and this is only 8 pages.

Overall, this was a good beginning. In 8 pages a fair amount happened to establish the character of X while still leaving a ton of questions. We saw a little bit of the criminal element and the world of Arcadia. Enough to give us a feeling, if not a well defined guide. The pacing was excellent, and the art was great both from a storytelling point, and for setting the mood of the book. As much as I hate reboots, this is a situation I can live with. I'm happy to have one of my favourites back, and this was a positive enough beginning that I hold hope for the future of the character.

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