Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Project Black Sky: "X" - The first 10 issues....



Ever since I started reading the Project Black Sky books from Dark Horse Comics I’ve been treated to some of the best comics I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and certainly the best comics I’ve read since the fall of Crossgen Comics and the original Ultimate Marvel line of books. To say that Dark Horse’s Project Black Sky titles are some of the finest on the racks today may possibly be an understatement. Today I figured I would sit down and write a blog entry specifically on one of the books from the line, but I was struggling as to which one I wanted to write about so I sat down to re-read a few recent issues and decided that “X” was going to be the title I spotlight in today’s post.
    For those who don’t know anything about this character I’ll give you a short history lesson. “X” was originally published by Dark Horse back in the early 90’s as a part of their “Comics Greatest World” line of books, but it didn’t last long due to the cluttered state of the industry at the time and soon Dark Horse moved away from this book, and superheroes as a whole. Last year the publisher decided that they were going to take another stab at publishing superheroes and this was one of the first books to see release under their new Project Black Sky line. I remember seeing covers for “X” in Wizard Magazine back in the mid 90’s and thinking he was a pretty cool character and even considered checking out his comic, but the news that it was ending in 1995 (I think) caused me to rethink doing so. When I heard Dark Horse was launching this character in a new series a year or so back I decided I was going to latch on and see what it was all about, and boy o’ boy am I glad I did.
    What I wanted to do with this entry is chronicle the first 10 issues of “X” so that potential readers would have something to go on aside from snobby comic book review websites that don’t favor anything other than Marvel or DC. A ground zero, if you will, where a potential new reader who was curious could come and get an outsiders opinion of the book. So here it goes……
    “X” is a comic that really doesn’t fall under the traditional superhero banner, though it is consider a superhero title. There is a lot of extreme violence as well as a pulp/noir feel to the book that would put in in the realm of a character like The Shadow or The Spider rather than a traditional superhero like Superman or Captain America. The hero is more of a dark vigilante who isn’t afraid to kill to get the job done. Picture Batman but without the double life-style of the main character Bruce Wayne, it’s almost as if this guy is Batman 24/7. There is no “man by day, hero by night” theme going on in this book and while he’s similar to Batman in the fact that he’s got some detective skills and he seems to attack at night, that’s pretty much where it comes to an end. Unlike Batman, “X” will kill those in which he hunts to ensure that their evil ways are put to an end and he seems to enjoy it to a point. He doesn’t go home to a nice house or an apartment, he seems to live in a torn up shack somewhere or underground, it’s hard to tell because it’s small and always dark when the character is portrayed in his home.
    The story in this book is very interesting as it seems that “X” is doing the vigilante thing for no apparent reason, though it’s been peppered in here and there that he does have an agenda and I’m sure once the series rolls along a little more that we will find out exactly what it is. Due to the graphic violence and nature of the story the book has a nice flow of constant action which helps to keep the plot flowing, it’s all calculated though and everything seems to happen for a reason. I was a huge fan of the opening arc of the book which centered around “X” hunting down and killing a trio of gangsters known as the “Three Pigs”, but then the book kind of went into an issue by issue story for a few months. Not that the story was bad but comics always seem to take a small hit in “flow” when they open up with an arc and then float into a few single story issues, but luckily the story was good and it didn’t hurt the but much at all. Then we jumped back into an arc and got to enjoy a fun little story about a good cop trying to make it within a corrupt police force. This story was great because it gave us a look into the Arcadia police department and how bad things really were, but luckily “X” was able to help this rookie cop out to change things for the better giving us a new supporting character and a large canvas to build stories around in the future.
    Now that we are talking about supporting characters, we really should be talking about Leigh. Leigh is a blogger who has followed the downfall of Arcadia and the activities of “X” and has dug deep into the story enough to have come into contact with “X” and even befriend him. She becomes a huge part of the story and a lot of the early issues are actually told through her and her blog entries, it was a really interesting way to tell the story and Mr. Duane Swierczynski really has crafted this tale from the ground up to really take on form and mean something. Something a lot of writers currently putting out books fail at doing. Along with his artist, Eric Nguyen, Duane has really put this book on the map with it's high quality story and slick artwork that showcases what a creative staff currently not working for the "big two" can bring to the table and both fans and critics have been singing it's praises since the opening arc. I can't recommend "X" enough, I've been pushing it on comic buddies I know as well as to anyone who's willing to listen to the ramblings of a comic book dork who want's to see this book in as many hands as possible. It's truly a wonderful story with some incredible characters that will put a smile on the face of anyone brave or bold enough to give this book a fair try. But be warned, this book is certainly aimed at the 18+ market and has enough blood and violence to keep an unsuspecting 8 year old awake for a week straight, to be careful who you recommend it to, yourself. Enjoy!

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

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