Three crime lords in the decaying city of Arcadia have received photographic death sentences from the mysterious “X Killer.” Their cunning defenses won’t stop Arcadia’s vigilante from making sure each one of them suffers.
This is a revamp of one of many titles that Dark Horse Comics published back in the 90’s. I didn’t read it back then, and haven’t been reading this revamp, either. Then a couple of weeks ago, while buying SKYMAN #1 on Dark Horse Digital, I saw the ad for #10 of this series. Frankly, I erroneously assumed that the lead character is Black, and since I liked the sound of the story, I went ahead and bought all 10 issues. Then I mentioned this on Facebook, and a fan of this series pointed out that X is not Black, I was just mistaken.
Oops. Oh well, too late now. So here I am with these 10 issues on my iPad, and now I just finally got around to start reading it. And DAMN, am I glad that I did!
This story, called “THE PIGS”, introduces us to X, who is like a mix between Batman and The Punisher (& you can throw in Jim Valentino’s Shadowhawk, too, since like the original version of that character, we the readers aren’t shown the character’s face or anything of his real identity). As masked vigilante who leaps across rooftops at night and brutally murders the criminals that he seeks. As the story begins, three of the top crime bosses in the city of gathered together to discuss that fact that each one of them has received a black and white photo of himself in the mail, with a big read X drawn across is face. While two of them aren’t sure if they should take this seriously, we get a flashback sequence to what happened to the last man who received such a photo. X used a sword to slice the man and his two bodyguards to pieces in a bloody mess. So the crime bosses come up with plans to track down X and kill him before he kills them.
One crime boss hires a lookalike decoy as bait. When X confronts him, there’s a sniper on a nearby roof, ready to take him out. X survives the first encounter, and gets to the real guy, and then slices his arm off and has him lead him to the next crime boss, who has hired a squad of paid assassins to go after X. Although the odds are against him, X brutally guns down the assassins, killing them all, then traps the two crime bosses in a limo which he has sex to explode.
The final show is with the last crime boss, who has locked himself up in a supposedly impenetrable “panic room,” which is also booby-trapped. X gets electric-shocked, sprayed with acid, and hit with a dozen razor-sharp blades, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to get to his target…
Despite the lack of insight into the lead character, writer Duane Swierczynski has crafted on suspenseful and action-packed story here. I was engrossed from first page to last. He is ably backed by Eric Nguyen on art, who doesn’t hold back in portraying the violence and brutality of the story. Blood and guts fly off the page, and when X gets hurt, you can almost feel it yourself. It’s intense. Colorist Michelle Madsen also deserves praise for setting just the right tone to match the art.
All of this wrapped up in a beautiful cover by Raymond Swanland. Great issue. I can’t believe I didn’t start this series sooner!
Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS