Written by Tony Patrick
Art by Ayhan Hayrula, Doug Garbark, and Jim Campbell
Published by Black Mask Studios
Release Date: December 2, 2015
Caution, this book may warp your mind. In fact, there may be people inside your head spotlighting your worst fears and childhood traumas right now. Well, maybe not…but if you lived in the world created by Tony Patrick and Ayhan Hayrula (with Doug Garbark on colors and Jim Campbell on letters), that could very well be true. X’ed #1 presents a landscape where Freud meets Dali, and the innermost workings of your mind are exposed and expunged. And it’s not pretty.
Tony Patrick has written one of the more unique tales I’ve seen in recent years. While the plot of this new series may contain familiar, yet foreign topics, the way this story is told is pure fun from start to finish. Following a couple of different characters, but mainly Colin McClure (ex-military man), X’ed tells the tale of a specialized team designed to infiltrate and eradicate the bad things in your mind by entering the mind itself. Colin has lost a leg, but has found a way to keep his action days alive by completing assassin-like operations in the battlefield of the mind. Colin and a team of scientists are hired by a woman to clear her mind of her brother. We’re not just talking a little mojo to make her forget…no we’re talking a full-blown assault to the inner-workings of her mind. Colin is wired into her brain and is quickly faced with an attack from all side. Her inner demons, her deepest fears, her childhood bullies; all are fair game. It’s safe to say that things get out of hand, and there are several lives on the line by issue’s end.
Tony Patrick is telling an incredibly strange tale with X’ed, but perhaps a tale most strangely intriguing. There’s something really special about the way this story is layered. All of the characters want something, something otherwise unattainable, but the tech in this story makes dreams come true. And they come true in the scariest of ways. The dialogue is rich with story, nearly every sentence adds another set of things to think about while reading the rest of the story. I really enjoy the bits of mind interpretation, getting a glimpse into what Patrick considers representations of our inner fears and secrets. The plot is exciting and ever-forward moving, right on to the abrupt ending. I’m truly drawn to this story, but if I could fault it on one aspect it’s the pacing and information-revealing mechanisms. Sometimes it felt like we didn’t know enough about a character to care for them in certain way, or like the plot was moving a bit too fast to grasp what was going on. But, this is nothing that can’t be cured by a more informational second issue and second readthrough for those that are struggling. Overall, this was a great start.
Ayhan Hayrula’s art suits this book well. There’s a lot of imagination in this story, and it’s depicted on every panel of this first issue. Doug Garbark’s bright, but still subdued (in a good way) colors bring the line art to life, highlighting the wacky atmosphere of this book. There are a couple issues with character consistency (coupled with the sometimes hard to follow narration) that makes it difficult to know what’s going on at times. However, with a trippy looking book like this, I’m willing to pay the price. The action is depicted really well; watching Colin traverse the crazy landscape is fun and stimulating. The texture to the pages adds another hypnotic element, constantly drawing you to the focus of each panel. This is a brutal book, and the art fits the tone perfectly.
X’ed #1 feels like jumping headfirst into never-ending ocean of pure, unadulterated fun. Those things tied around your feet? They’re weights, pulling you further into the story, into the mind of the characters (in a variety of ways, at that!). Black Mask has yet another exciting book in their arsenal, and I’ll be anxiously awaiting issue two.
The Verdict: 9.0/10