It has been nearly 4 months since we last saw X’ed which means it’s time to go back and check out our review of the first issue to remind ourselves what happened.
I gave the first issue a pretty good rating and had high hopes for the psychological elements introduced as the main character traversed the mind of an old woman, but how about issue #2? Is it good?
X’ed #2 (Black Mask Studios)
Per the solicit:
A sci-fi thriller about a next-gen form of psychiatry: “subliminal hitmen” injected into your mind who hunt down and kill the demons that haunt you. Ex-military sharpshooter Colin McClure is Mezign Corporation’s most recent recruit for the still-experimental (and often deadly) job of subliminal hitman. McClure is the perfect candidate for two reasons: a) he’s a killing machine, and b) he lost his legs in the war, so subliminal-ops are his only way to see any action. But he’s also a dangerous candidate for one reason unknown to Mezign: Colin’s true motive is to enter the mind of his catatonic daughter and bring her out of a coma.
Why does this book matter?
Writer Tony Patrick proved with the first issue he knows his stuff when it comes to psychology. He not only name dropped some science terms but managed to make it work in a cool science fiction setup. Ayhan Hayrula has proven with the first issue his artistic ability can get as obtuse as needed to make all the crazy mind stuff work too.
Oh this is fun!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A lot of time is spent with flashbacks in this issue which help make the protagonist more interesting. His time as a soldier, inability to be a father and husband, and deep depression when his life turned from bad to worse make him sympathetic so when danger is looming we actually give a damn.
At the same time the mind fuck that is entering the human mind continues to be great fun. Like some kind of lost Twilight Zone episode, Patrick slings one neat idea after another at you which makes the story feel like anything can happen. It’s also quite neat to see how he’s connected real science to Colin’s enemies within the mind. The Mindfugks are also quite neat and freaky as heck with not much explanation, but given how much Patrick has explained so far you have to wonder what they are doing in an old lady’s mind.
Hayrula once again does a great job with the characters’ faces, body language and most importantly the freaky mind bending stuff. One panel with a “gray hole” is quite impressive as it sucks in everything around it and in another (seen below) Colin is seen floating through layers of the mental fabric. All very visually stunning yet they’re showing us things that are hard to describe with even words!
It can’t be perfect can it?
The flashbacks are laid on incredibly thick in this issue so much so that it detracts from the mind realm stuff. At times it reads as if Patrick is making up for things that were lacking in the first issue (which focused quite a bit on the science of entering a mind rather than the supporting and main character) which makes me wonder if a reread is a must before diving into this. On its own it feels off because of the exposition delivered in flashbacks and later with the characters outside Colin’s head. Some of the scenes seem to drag too – like a full page spread of Colin in a wheelchair – that lack the dramatic oomph they’d need to pull off the amount of page they’re on.
It works, but maybe if it was filtered in more in the first issue?
Is It Good?
This is a mind trip that’s exciting, but otherworldly weird like a good Twilight Zone episode. It’s not perfect, but you will want to see what happens next.