X #12 is titled “Twenty-One Days” which follows the fallout after X’s battle with Gamble and Leigh’s capture by Tango. Duane Swierczynski uses this time to let X recover from his fight while he also systematically tears down everything in X’s world.
Official description from DARK HORSE:
X faces his greatest challenge of the series as four villains-suicidal maniac Deathwish, stargazing supercriminal Carmine Tango, risk-taking assassin Gamble, and a new threat no one suspected-converge on Arcadia’s lone vigilante… but the cruelest stab of all comes from a friend!
For the first time in this series Swierczynski is putting X at his worst disadvantage yet. Now with Tango fully in control and Leigh as his hostage X not only faces another uphill battle but one where the carpet is being ripped out form underneath him. Last issue was the turn that Leigh was figured out by Ella and now in more danger than she has faced to date as well. Trapped along with Tango’s longtime prisoner The Night Watcher he must witness firsthand the drugging, questioning and torture of Leigh at the hands of Tango.
Swierczynski uses the twenty-one day theme to cross between X’s recovery and hunt with Leigh’s imprisonment. It’s an effective tool for the excruciating punishment literally both characters are going trough. This book is low on the ultra-violence but high on the physiological drama. This issue also solidifies Leigh and X’s relationship and how it will be used to destroy both of them. It’s really is a twisted mess but highly effective story telling.
Eric Nguyen is, as always, outstanding in his work. While his bread and butter on this series is always accentuated through the violence he gets to stretch his artist muscles in different ways this time by focusing on quick panel jumps revealing what goes on behind closed doors. This issue showcases his skill at telling the story without big violent panels and he does both with equal skill.
In the end Leigh is used as a device to draw X out in the open but more importantly letting his guard down. For that he pays and in the face of not just one major villain but four. Swierczynski shows that he and X are no one trick ponies and that there is plenty of meat left on the bone. It shows more subtle and emotion triggers for our hero and lays bare the vulnerabilities and weakness getting to close can get you. A different tone for X but still edgy and aggressive. X is moving in new territory and it shows how versatile this title can be while still keeping you on the edge of your seat. Dark Horse’s X is really hitting it’s stride and readers should get on board immediately.