X #9 takes a different approach on the ultra-violent vigilante and his decisions on who live and who dies now that someone is begging for him to do it. An interesting take on how a decision dealing with life and death are at the end of a gun barrel works on the psyche of a criminal and a hero.
Official description from DARK HORSE:
Everyone in Arcadia knows: commit a crime, and sooner or later X will come for you. But how to get his attention if you want to die right now? And what if the notorious vigilante doesn’t want to execute a willing victim? It’s a clash of wills as X’s newest, most formidable nemesis takes the stage!
Writer Duane Swierczynski ratchets up the violence in issue #9 of the X series, however, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a senseless bloodbath. There’s more under the surface and in the hearts of those who wield a gun than appears. Swierczynski sets the stage on the first page as a hardened criminal executes an elderly man in cold blood but realizes that his crime has actual emotional consequences. The old man was a mentor to young kids which includes his now seemingly unfeeling killer making said killer remorseful and feeling the need for his own execution.
X is on his own hunt of a scumbag befitting Arcadia’s long list of scumbags but is interrupted by our earlier killer begging X to do him in for his crimes. Now that there’s a willing participant to X’s vigilante justice can X pull the trigger? That’s the twist Swierczynski’s runs with and what might seem like a contradiction of X’s no-holds-barred code it is an interesting dilemma that Swierczynski tackles head on and without apology. The only trick involved is that if X refuses will he create an all new level of violent criminal?
While the earlier X issues have lived up to it’s promise of being “super-brutal” this issue takes it up a notch. We’ve seen the victims before but this killer’s first victim’s death is especially emotional and the level of brutality seems heightened by the gentle man pleas for mercy which go unanswered. Eric Nguyen’s three most violent scenes just feel especially gruesome but for good reason. His work here has feeling as well as graphic impact. While it may turn off some I found it an uneasy honest look at what real violence can be.
X’s partner, Leigh, has less face time this issue but she still is vital to this issue and to where it’s leading. There’s still the itch she needs to scratch as a reporter to unmask X’s identity and living with a man who hides in the shadows seems especially difficult for her and her level of curiosity. She’s still on that quest but needs to go closer to the beginning to get her answers.
X has fluctuated some from issue to issue but #9 has easily been one Swierczynski and Nguyen’s strongest and the new twist on X’s mental make-up and those he hunts down is a great new dynamic that makes it’s way to the forefront. X is on the right track and gets better each issue. Fans of edgy and graphic storytelling should be picking up this book but look a little deeper and you’ll see there’s much more to discover.