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!
“ONE NASTY PIECE OF BUSINESS”
Tony Parker steps in as guest-artist for this issue, while regular artist Eric Nguyen drew the cover. Duane Swierczynski continues his revamp of the Dark Horse urban vigilante X with this single-issue story, taking a bit of a breather in-between arcs.
We open with a flashback to an event we saw in X #0, when one of “The Three Pigs” hired a bunch of assassins to go after X, but X ambushed them and started shooting them. We learn that three of the assassins managed to get away. A simple-looking man calling himself The Accountant and a couple of middle-aged women called Mother Nature and Mother Invention. Flashforward to the present, it’s a month since Berkshire was killed. The three assassins, now calling themselves The ‘Rents, have decided to take advantage of the absence of a central crime figure in Arcadia. Having stolen Berkshire’s secret blackmail files, they begin shaking down various politicians and businessmen in the city.
Meanwhile, X has been slowly recovering from his injuries. He actually has a nightmare where he takes his mask off and looks at himself in the mirror and sees that he has a pig’s face. When he wakes, we learn that X still hasn’t unmasked in front of Leigh, who’s been staying with him in his little hideout, even though she swears he can trust him. But he says “the mask stays on until the mission is finished.”
X anticipated that someone would try to take Berkshire’s place, and had previously bugged City Hall. So when he finds out about The ‘Rents, he sends Leigh out to hand them pictures with one half of a red X marked on them. Leigh almost gets caught, as The ‘Rents chase her, leading to a construction sight where they surround her. But X is waiting in a nearby building and picks off the two ladies with a rifle, then gets into a gunfight with The Accountant, leading him into a booby-trap where he is blown up. Leigh isn’t happy about this turn of events, she thought X was just going to warn them, not kill them, and now she fills partially responsible for these deaths. X argues that its what they deserved, and he and Leigh split before the cops arrive.
Another solid issue. I liked the little character bits, like X having a nightmare, and Leigh’s obvious concern for him. Leigh’s sudden displeasure with X’s murderous methods seems a little out of left-field, what did she expect when she agreed to team up with him? But I guess it was different when she was merely an observer of X, as opposed to an active participant. There’s another great bit at the end, as Leigh and X are leaving the scene, Leigh has to help X walk, as he leans on her shoulder, due to the fact that he hasn’t fully recovered from his injuries from his fight with Berkshire. That’s another thing that makes this book better than standard superhero comics. Batman will take a beating in one issue and then be back at 100% in the next issue. But X is a human being. I mean, yeah, he probably takes a lot more punishment that is realistically possible, but at least it takes him time to recover. The villains were funny, too. Like, despite being unrepentant murders, the Mothers don’t curse. And Tony Parker does a fine job filling in with the art. Another stellar issues from Dark Horse. FIVE STARS