There are comics that show off brutal violence to pander, or to shock, but then there are other cases were that brutality means more. The first four issues of X showed brutal violence in a way that seemed to suggest it was necessary. That a hero, if you can call him that, must resort to such violence in certain cases. The first story arc ended last month and we got ourselves a quieter introspective-type dealio today, so is it good?
X #5 (Dark horse Comics)
Miss our review of X #4? Check it out here.
If you’ve been reading this series, the first gut punch will be the change of artist. Tony Parker takes over for Eric Nguyen and while Parker does an admirable job, a bit of the brutal force is lost from Nguyen’s pencils. Parker has a cleaner, less chaotic style to his work that makes things a lot less noisy and a lot more stable. He does however, add a bit of chaos with his layouts, which cross the page at diagonal angles, stacks on itself and gives a disassembled feel to the book.
And what if you haven’t been reading this series? Well in that case, this is a nice place to start reading, partly because this is a quiet interlude before the next arc, but also because the relationships of the characters and what’s going on is recapped nicely. Dark Horse’s synopsis reads as such:
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!
Whoa, did that say soccer moms?! That’s right folks, X has to take on some rather insane villains, ones who use their innocent appearance to kill, stab and maim. He takes them on because they’re taking over for the crimelord X recently killed. After being brutally beaten in that event, X is being nursed back to health by Leigh, an ex-journalist-turned-blogger, who befriended him in his recent quest to kill a crimelord. It seems crimelords are like rats, you kill one and another takes its place. This issue touches on the odd relationship that has sprouted between Leigh and X and also the lengths X will go to enact justice.
Since this is a quieter issue allowing readers to catch their breath, it’s more of a one-shot or done in one comic story. Writer Duane Swierczynski was probably aware of this, so he’s concocted a rather insane group of villains here. As the synopsis reads above, the bad guys are soccer moms who seem to have no conscience. In a sense they’re just opportunistic Americans who want to make a buck now that the big crimelord is gone. Unfortunately for them, X won’t have any of it, especially when they attempt to hurt Leigh.
I want to say the soccer moms are humorous, but Swierczynski and Parker have actually made them frighteningly evil. They’ve got a Mad Hatter type presence that’s evil for evil’s sake. In a way this story validates X’s brutality and unquestioning choice to kill for justice, but in another they read as rather vapid and pointless. Luckily Swierczynski ends the issue with a bit of a evolution to Leigh and X’s relationship. I won’t ruin it here, but their relationship may be becoming permanent now that Leigh has been so close to actual murders.
- Interesting turn of events at the end that could mean developments for our heroes
- Nutso villains that are fun, but also scary
- Art isn’t as chaotically beautiful!
What we have here is a good one-shot story that has long standing implications for the relationship of our two main characters. The art takes a dip, but only because Nguyen’s was so iconically brutal. It’ll be interesting to read where this story goes in the next arc because of how Leigh and X are growing as one.
Is It Good?
Yes. Enjoyable read that continues the brutality of the previous, but can be enjoyed by newcomers too.
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