Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Xombi #1 review


David Kim gets a second shot at comics success with this issue, which appears under the imprint of DC Comics rather than offshoot Milestone. Whatever helps, I suppose. Certainly one of the reasons I didn't bother much with the Milestone titles in the Nineties was that I was busy with the DC and Marvel lines, and a lad only had so much time.

On the basis of this issue, I missed out. Big time. It was only a couple of years back that I finally came across Xombi, teamed with the Spectre in an issue of The Brave and the Bold. I  was a little frustrated by the lack of background information, but definitely wanted to see more.

And here's more, courtesy of original writer John Rozum, who penned that B&B issue, and new artist Frazer Irving. They grabbed me with page one and proceeded to fascinate with more interesting ideas in 20pp than some series manage in a year.

That opening has an Alan Moore Swamp Thing vibe, as we're directed towards surreal happenings around the world, signs and portents ... and not a tipsy cow among them. Oh no, this book is a lot more original than that, with my favourite omen being a spot of bloody bother at a museum in Oslo.

Noting the oddness is David's associate Julian Parker, who's in Sao Paolo on personal business. Talking coins in his pocket tell him it's all linked to a prisoner back in Dakota City, where David lives. As Julian calls to ask his friend to check on the inmate, he's contemplating the weirdness that's come his way since an accident left him a nanomachine-filled, technologically advanced, likely immortal. New weirdness is just the distraction he needs.

He finds it as he joins some other local heroes - seer sister Nun of the Above, the incredible shrinking Nun the Less and faithful teen Catholic Girl, along with priest Father Maxwell. They're there because the prison is overseen by the Church of Rome. Literally, as it's a series of tiny houses into which the captives are shrunk. There, things don't go well for the group and the book begins to feel like an issue of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, with random nuttiness that somehow just fits.

I suppose I should stop making comparisons, and give full credit to Rozum for his originality. He's definitely funnier than either Moore or Morrison, presenting some well-placed gags, alongside a central protagonist with a refreshingly twinkly character (click to enlarge image).

Rozum's script is superb. He introduces his players, sets up and progresses his situation and finishes with a chiller of a cliffhanger. And he's perfectly partnered with Irving, on full-colour artwork. The latter takes full advantage of opportunities for dramatic composition in the prison scene, but the domestic moments are just as imaginative. The vignettes of David and pal Chet mooching around the house are excellent, with layouts reflecting one another, Chet popping up in a single panel more than once as an indicator of time passing, and more. Colours are applied for mood rather than a naturalist effect, giving this comic a flavour like nothing else DC is publishing.

Whether you're an existing Xombi fan, or a newcomer like me, I can't recommend this comic highly enough - it's a thrilling, absorbing experience that deserves to be a massive hit.


10 comments:

  1. 1. Great site. I love reading your reviews.

    2. I"ve also never read any Xombi and passed on getting this at the comic book store this morning. After reading your review, and other positive stuff on forums, I'm gonna have to check out this issue.

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  2. Just bought the issue can't wait to read it.

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  3. I haven't finished all of my week's haul yet -- but if this is the best comic in it, I'll eat my hat. Or let my nanobots consumer it, and then transform it into identical kernels of popcorn.

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  4. Abmathewks, thanks for the kind words, I hope you enjoy Xombi.

    Ditto Dan, let us know!

    Did you think Xombi was poor, Rob, or simply not top tier?

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  5. Ulp. Actually, not at all! What I thought, was I had typed "isn't" instead of "is!"

    The first sentence should read:

    I haven't finished all of my week's haul yet -- but if this isn't the best comic in it, I'll eat my hat.

    Xombi's a wonderful book. If it keeps up at this level, it could very well become my favorite book.

    I couldn't have made a worse typo.

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  6. Ahhhh! Well, if you wish I can delete your original comment, my response, the new comment, you could re-send the original as intended ...

    Or we can just leave the thread as is. It's all sorted! I don't like the idea of putting 'you' in a bin.

    I'm just chuffed that you do like the book!

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  7. Ah, let's leave as-is. It's not like they'll need to use my quote on the back of a trade or anything. Yeah, I love it!

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  8. This was the most fun I've had reading a comic book in a very long time. It reminded me of reading Starman #1 way back in the day. So many ideas, they were exploding off the page. And drawn by Frazer Irving? Just so beautiful.

    Now I only wish they would have done a trade of the earlier Xombi, because I'm not sure how closely they're related, however, written by John Rozum, I'd be happy to read them.

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  9. Hopefully the new comic will do well, and we'll get a collection of the original book, Jeff. I like the Starman comparison.

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