When Leigh Ferguson’s high school friend becomes the latest victim of the “Skin Traders”—a mysterious band of surgically modified thugs who slice skin from their abducted victims—she knows X is the only person in Arcadia who can stop them. The only question is: who’s got thicker skin?
FLESH AND BLOOD, PART 1
Taking place several months after the events of the previous issue, a group of men with pig faces have abducted three prostitutes, who are then taken to secret location where large patches of their skin are surgically removed and then they’re dumped back on the street corners that they were taken from. As this issue begins we see the abduction of a 4th prostitute, who happens to be an old friend of Leigh’s. After talking to her, Leigh goes straight to X, and they come up with a plan were Leigh poses as a prostitute while X watches from the shadows in hopes of drawing out and abducting the men who are doing this.
After several fruitless nights it works, and X comes face to face with the violent pig-gang. The final sequence of pages in this book features the brutal action we’ve come to love from this series as X fights 4 men with pig faces using his fists, then his sword, and then guns. But nothing stops them, they just keep coming until finally X is overpowered and taken way, leaving Leigh alone on the street. Uh oh.
The promo for this issue advertises it as a jumping on point for new readers, and I believe it fits that description. Writer Duane Swierczynski makes this story feel accessible to anyone, whether you’ve read any of the previous issues or not. It’s a classic vigilante story that I think is easy enough to follow along. But it’s also got plenty of info for longtime readers to recognize. The most significant question is what, if any, connection does this group of pig-men have to the former crime-boss Berkshire, whom X fast in the original arc, which ended with X #4?
There are also some gaps as a result of Dark Horse’s Project Black Sky crossover, which I did not read, the events of which touched on X in recent issue. I’m glad I wasn’t forced to buy a bunch of other titles just to enjoy this one, but I am left not knowing what happened to Archon, and Carmine Tango, and exactly what did happen to make Leigh and X partners again? So I’ll knock off a star for that. But, overall, I was very happy with the story we got here, along with the beautiful artwork of Eric Nguyen and colors of Michelle Madsen. This continues to be a great series and if you’re not reading it yet, START DOING SO!
Chacebook rating: FOUR STARS