Unflinchingly brutal and gritty, X #0 is a thrilling great read about seedy and unhinged characters. Unforgiving in its brutality, this is shockingly violent take on vigilantism. X, the avenging superhero, will go through drastic measures, no matter what the cost, to protect his crime-ridden city.
WRITTEN BY: Duane Swierczynski
ART BY: Eric Nguyen
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: April 10, 2013
The mysterious city known by its people as Arcadia has become a giant beacon for sin and greed. Corrupt politicians have made a profit over the decay of the city, while the poor keep getting poorer. With the police on their payroll, the criminal elite have nothing to fear from anyone, except for one thing. They are afraid to pick up the mail in the morning. A letter from an unhinged masked man arrives for them, waiting to be opened. When the criminals see a photograph of themselves marked in red, they automatically know their days are numbered. There is no place to hide from the psychotic vigilante known as X.
What I really liked about Duane Swierczynski’s narrative is that the point-of-view comes from the antagonists. The story is told through the eyes of the power-hungry politicians and greedy gangsters. As a reader, you end up rooting the bad guys to make it out alive. The mobster, Duroc, takes the death threats very seriously, which is why he crafts a clever plan to outwit the vigilante. Trying to save his own life, Duroc wants the psychopath known as X to make a mistake and kill his decoy.
Though Swierczynski pays more attention to the criminal element, that doesn’t mean X becomes a boring character. Swierczynski balances the truth behind X’s actions, while keeping the mystery behind X’s mask. Sensing a sniper behind him, X lets himself get shot, just so that the criminal gets caught in the crossfire. Because there is no explanation as to why X is creating a war against crime, the vigilante seems psychotic and creepy. Without any hesitation, X is willing to die for his suicidal mission.
Eric Nguyen’s artwork doesn’t hold back on the gore and violence. Nguyen has the poses down pat as X jumps down from the rooftops, holding a sword in each hand. In just one panel, X slices and dices his way through a mobster’s henchmen. In a graphic close-up, Nguyen illustrates just the half of the mobster’s head sitting on the hood of a car. You look at this page and you just feel sorry for the bad guys.
The most suspenseful panels occur when X is trying to break into a panic room, where a mobster has locked himself inside. With the panic room designed with lasers and acid, X is slowly being beaten. There is no dialogue from X whatsoever during this scene. Nguyen depicts the exhaustion on X’s face through his tired eyes and sweat.
“X” #0 is a terrific combination of crime drama, vigilante action, and merciless revenge. After reading this issue, you will understand why X is one helluva scary superhero.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis