REVIEW: X’ed #3

Have you seen that movie “Inception”? The one where Leo and some operatives enter dreams (and subsequent layers of dreams) to plant an idea in some guy’s head? Well, this comic is kinda like that, but darker. I’m three issues into this series and what was confusing at first is starting to become clear. One thing is certain: the mind can be a dangerous place.

X’ed follows Colin McClure, a former solder whose personal traumas have led to him becoming a subliminal hitman. On a mission inside the mind of the elderly Evelyn Lemonson to destroy every trace of her brother, he finds himself trapped in the deepest recesses of her consciousness trying to escape. While he battle Evelyn’s demons and faceless constructs called MiFS, the company who conducts the experimental Erasure Therapy, designated Mezign, has fallen under attack by hackers. This attack results in Evelyn’s brain scans flat lining. Where does this leave Colin? Will he survive inside a stranger’s dead mind?

Black Mask has a really interesting concept on their hands, with a creative team that knows how to properly deliver it to the masses. Writer Tony Patrick handles a multi-tiered story operating on different wavelengths seamlessly, jumping from underwater shark attacks to technological takeover to repressed memory flashbacks without missing a beat. Watching Evelyn’s life story play out is wonderful because it is so damn tragic and helps the reader process her motivations and character. Ayhan Hayrula and Doug Garbark illustrate and color, respectively, a beautiful two-page spread near the end of this issue, opening up the story to a whole new level of complexity and even more questions as to the purpose of Mezign. The underwater scenes are my favorite art from this issue and the MiFS look scary in a really cool way.

While the “real world” conflict and excitement is a prominent aspect of the comic, especially once the pieces start falling into place, I feel as though it takes a backseat to the happenings inside the psychological landscape. As I stated before, Colin gets to observe the life of his client in short memory flashbacks, from childhood to the present day. Her family is a broken one and the past tends to repeat itself. I really enjoyed how these are perceived as images through the watery expanse. The divide from reality is apparent when Evelyn can’t light her cigarette with her lighter, instead using a nearby campfire. All while underwater. I can’t say I really feel sorry for Evelyn in all this, but the points raised in the final pages do shed light on the situation at hand, and we realize some people aren’t what they seem.

As a standalone issue, the reader will be left scratching their head about what’s happening and why any of it matters. Even with the recap on the first page, there are so many characters and layers we miss in the first two issues (especially the second) that you do yourself a disservice by jumping in at this point. I recommend starting from the beginning. It’s in issue 3, however, that the plot begins to thicken and revelations are made. For a thrilling and dark journey through the mind, pick up X’ed #3, in stores May 18th.

Great, 4 out of 5 Stars.

Written by: Tony Patrick
Art by: Ayhan Hayrula
Colored by: Doug Garbark
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
Cover by: Chris Visions

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