Mister X: Razed #1 Review – X Marks the Spot

One of the 80s most influential comics, though lost from the populous’ memory, makes its return in merry fashion. Needless of a modern update, Mister X. is a strong example of the idiom: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

What’s it about?

Radiant City is lacking in holiday cheer with the brutal, but without clear evidence, deaths of several rabbis. The newspapers are calling them the “Menorah Murders”. Our intrepid Mister X., however, doubts these crimes are anti-Semitic in nature. As Christmas draws near it is more than just rabbis that should be on the lookout for seemingly “accidental” deaths.


Who the heck is Mister X?

The character of Mister X. has actually been around for decades. Created by Dean Motter, who returns for this new series from Dark Horse Comics, Mister X was published by Vortex Comics starting in 1983 and has since jumped around from publisher to publisher, with various other writers and artists involved. There have been several consistencies over the past three decades. Radiant City, nicknamed Somnopolis, is a metropolis seemingly always on the edge of calamity. It has been the host to a varied array of characters including Mister X himself, his girlfriend Mercedes, and journalist Rosetta Stone.

How’s the artwork?

Incredible. Mister X. visually is an homage to German Expressionism and films like Metropolis. But it is just as influential as what it has been influenced by. Designs for Gotham City, particularly Tim Burton’s version and that of the animated series, are clear examples of Mister X.’s artistic influence. In this particular issue, the minimalist color palette with its stark use of bold reds (as this book is set during the holidays), straddles the line between noir and pop art of the 80s. Even the choosing to use Courier as a typeface for thoughts and narration, evoke the feel of a typewriter and is a particularly detailed, but special touch.

So it looks good, but what about the writing?

The dialogue is mired in two ways. First of all, the unfamiliarity to who these characters are can be far too distracting, breaking the immersion and slowing the pace of reading. Secondly, the panels and speech bubbles, at times, lack coherency. The typical left from right flow is hindered by either angled paneling or an over-use of text crowding the space. That being said, what appears on the page, though lacking some level of coherency, has a strong voice and feels natural to the world.

Does it end well?

Just when you think the murders are solved, an entirely new layer is discovered. The comic does well to answer just enough questions as to make the reader feel both satisfied and intrigued.

Who would you recommend it for?

Mister X. has an old-school feel to it, much like the comics of the Golden Age. If you are in the mood for a bit of nostalgia, a break from the over-powered “capes” of today or the gritty, gory horror comics that appear to be on the rise, then take a chance on diving into a world you may be unfamiliar with but will learn to love.

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