Betrayed by his friends and stripped of his mask, X will have to crawl from an iron prison to wrench his city from Tango’s stranglehold. But a new gang, unlike any Arcadia has seen before, may be more than even X can handle! A new episode in the Project Black Sky event begins here!
BETTER OFF DEAD
As per the end of the previous issue, things couldn’t look worse for our hero. He’s been captured, unmasked, and held prisoner for a week by crime boss Carmine Tango, and his only trusted ally, Leigh, has been brainwashed into betraying him to the Feds and the public, undoing all of the good work X has accomplished since he began his mission. The good cops, including Ruidoso, whom X had installed at the top of the Arcadia police force, have been arrested for working with him. Things can’t possibly get any worse…
We open with X still beaten up and stuck in the pit that Tango left him in. Deathwish comes in for the daily torture, but X has managed to recover a bit and manages to trick Deathwish into getting him out. I’m not going to saw how he does this, because it really is an ingenious little trick that takes advantage of Deathwish’s desire to force X to kill him. Sure, it’s a little convenient in some ways (there just happens to be a defibrillator machine around when it was needed), but it was clever.
X escapes and tries to make it back to his hideout, but sees that it was already been ransacked by the Feds, who even managed to get his secret stash of weapons. It’s at that point that he realizes that Leigh must have given him up, since she’s the only one who knew about the stash. We get a few scenes of Leigh, cooperating with the Feds, and it’s clear from her thought captions that she has been completely turned against X by Tango’s brainwashing. And then she receives a photo of herself with one red slash on it, knowing that X is free and coming for her. We also get a brief glimpse of officer Ruidoso in prison, arguing with his lawyer about getting him out on bail.
Meanwhile Carmon Tango is feeling like he’s on top of the world. He believes X is no longer a threat (he even has a mannequin head with X’s old mask on it mounted on the wall in his office), and is making arrangements to have his own corrupt cops and Feds moved back into the city for, as he puts it, “business as usual.” Then all of the sudden he gets a message that one of his businesses was hit by a of armed men who busted in a killed almost everyone.
In the final showdown of this issue, X is determined to get his weapons and spare costume & mask back. His stuff is currently guarded by an elite squad of heavily armed Federal agents. But Leigh knows that X has gotten out of messes like this before and is worried that he’s coming for her and, even worse, might be making her his accomplice again. TO BE CONTINUED
This is advertised as the first of a new arc, and I’m excited to see where it goes from her. As I said last time, I love the unpredictability of this series, and the way writer Duane Swierczynski isn’t afraid to upset the status quo. I’m little concerned with how this story is being advertised as part of something called Project Black Sky, which is some sort of Dark Horse Comics event. I really hope it doesn’t disrupt this series and that it doesn’t end up being a case where I have to pick up some other series just to understand what’s going on in this one. I’ll just have to wait and see.
Penciler Robert Atkins and inker Andy Owens fill-in for regular artist Eric Nguyen this issue, and do a great job. As does regular colorist Michelle Madsen. X #13 gets a Chacebook rating of 5 STARS