Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Eric Nguyen
Colorist: Michelle Madsen
Cover Artist: Jason Felix
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: April 8, 2015

I am possibly one of the few people who can this:

I liked Duane Swierczynski’s run on Birds of Prey.

There, I have said it. Just let it sink in for a moment.

Granted, the run wasn’t as good as Gail Simone’s first run, but it was better than the Brightest Day run. Swierczynski  wasn’t helped by, rumoured, editorial interference and a totally unnecessary Batman crossover. So it’s good see him, dust himself off and head over to Dark Horse and their resident vigilante.

X is a product of Dark Horse’s attempt to break into the spandex crowd from way back in the 90’s. Back then Dark Horse were seen by many as license only publisher, like Dynamite today. This was a horrible perception as it ignored creator owned books like Sin City and (one of my personal favourites) Concrete. It is a safe to say that whilst the superhero experiment didn’t work as expected, it did help show readers what Dark Horse were good at. Well produced, character driven stories.

Fast forward to present day, X is in trouble. Seems like the people he wants to save are so enamoured with him, that they take a mass of drugs and want to kill him, on the promise of more drugs. Added to the mix is another vigilante who may be be a friend or a foe depending on her methods.

Swierczynski writes a tight story, with the script suitably terse where needed. He does well to give all the major players a different voice, something he excelled at in Birds. The interaction between X and his Alfred/Felicity works well and avoids some of the “will they, won’t they” that viewers maybe tired of in Arrow. Plot wise, there are enough twists to keep the reader engaged and whilst some would argue that we have seen it before, I would counter with its the journey not the destination and for the characters in this book, they all go through a journey of sorts.

Art is supplied by Eric Nguyen who produces some effective art, which, unlike the script, is terse throughout. If I was going to draw comparisons, I would say Nguyen’s art is similar to Klaus Jansen in both line work and inks but also shows the development of that style, with some great attention to facial details and overall camera angles showing the characters are the focus of the panels. The colours by Michelle Madsen show flexibility, dark and gritty around X and his vigilante acquaintance and lighter around the civilian assistance he receives.

This book is a great read. I have re-read it a number of times and have found new things to enjoy on every occasion. Dark Horse are certainly showing their quality on a number of different books (check out Lady Killer) across differing styles of universes.

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