This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
(Duane Swierczynski, Eric Nguyen; Dark Horse)
So, in Dark Horse's newest release, X #0 (which collects three stories originally appearing in Dark Horse Presents) there's a masked vigilante cleaning up the streets of the town of Arcadia by spilling blood in the gutters and turning ham faced hoodlums into sausages. As far as I can tell, it is all because writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Eric Nguyen are full of hate. Serious and ugly hate. I can't think of any other reason for the existence of this book other than somebody's got a fat ax to grind.
Because all we got here is a vengeance plot. A masked guy is toting around some weapons and using them to splatter faces across the pavement. Swierczynski provides no insight into why this individual has chosen this course of action, except... you know... ham faced hoodlums are … what do you call it? Bad? And deserve to become sausage? Or something.
It's kind of hard to tell.
I swear to you that there is even a moment in this book when a "sirloin of psychopath" is mentioned. You can't expect me to take that seriously? Can you?
I'm starting to wonder, though, if Swierczynski isn't just tugging our testicles to cause us to giggle. Late in the book, one of the ham-faces asks X, "About this whole mission of vengeance... Did some member of our outfit betray you? Kill your parents maybe? Or perhaps your bride on your wedding day?" Are we expecting our comic book cliches to provide motivation for character angst now? Has it become that simple? Or is Swierczynski playing a new game of hide the ham faced sausage and pushing our expectations in the mud?
We've got a one-eyed hero with an X on his face -- this shit is wrought with resonance -- symbolically, culturally, comic book-y -- I'm thinking that, perhaps, a zero issue like this one provides just enough leverage for a first issue fist in the face -- the whetstone is primed for a blade which will slice through all these stories, hewing something unique and powerful.
Or not. I can't tell yet. Too many ham faces and not enough character development.
But Eric Nguyen makes some pretty pictures out of this mess. He certainly has his splatter patterns down and adds the necessary layer of grit and off-kilter angles to make me assume that there is more to this series than the same old, same old. Plus, he draws a nice ham face.
I just wish I had more of sense of where this book is going or even where these characters have been. Right now, as things stand in this zero issue, I kind feel like I've walked in halfway during an action flick and everybody tells me to shut the fuck up when I ask them what's going on. Does that make me want to buy X #1? I'm not really sure about that, either.
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