Flesh and Blood – Part 1: “You Need Tough Skin In This Town!”
Story by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Eric Nguyen
Colors by Michelle Madsen
Letters by Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Cover by Freddie E. Williams II & Jeremy Colwell
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 9/10/2014
This issue of “X” is labeled “Starting Point for New Readers!” on the cover. When you open a comic with that kind of label there are a number of expectations new readers expect. The biggest expectation from new readers is the issue easily accessible? The cover says this is a starting point – let’s look and see.
The majority of this issue is narrated by a reporter, Leigh Ferguson. Her character does not fill the role of tour guide of Arcahia, her city, but take the reader where she goes in search for a story. The story leads her to an old friend of her’s that had turned to the streets and had become a prostitute to survive in Archadia. During this time she had been kidnapped and had been subject to horrors. Leigh brings the reader into this story and by doing so is able to explain what this city does to people and the kinds of people that roam the streets. One such person is our “hero” – X.
Duane Swierczynski uses Leigh in a natural way to bring new readers into the city without forcing the reader to see everything that Archadia is in just one issue. There is a lot for a new reader to take in when coming in to a series that’s been around for a year and a half like “X” and so easing readers into this world and these characters take a certain amount of care. Leigh is a very relatable character for readers to become attached to, so when she is in need there is a feeling of urgency by the reader. Swierczynski does a nice job with this.
The story itself, which won’t be spoiled here, is a very tormenting one and really shows a very terrifying life that citizens live in Archadia and can make a reader wonder why people continue to live in this city. There is probably an answer out there, but Swierczynski doesn’t take any time to explain it. Does he need to? No. Again, there’s a pacing that new readers need a writer to take to bring them into a series for the first time and Swierczynski executes this nicely.
The art in this issue by Eric Nguyen and Michelle Madsen is dark and brooding and sets a tone for Archadia that can’t be described with words. A reader needs the artist to portray the world in ways that the writer cannot and Nguyen and Madsen do this in spades. The attack on Maureen is quick, but terrifying. The two panels used to show this tell the reader exactly what is happening and Nguyen doesn’t need anything more. The reader sees the fear on Maureen’s face and that’s all that’s necessary. One of the more interesting aspects of Nguyen’s art is not necessarily the linework but the panel layout throughout the issue. Most of the book has these large, chuncky panels that give the characters a place to really play out the scene. Nguyen leaves the panels open for the action as well as the narration and dialogue that Comicraft easily pops in and makes feels as much a part of the page as the pencils or the coloring.
New readers should be able to pick up this issue of “X” and have little to no difficulty jumping in to this series. There’s a good amount of story and backstory from Swierczynski throughout the issue thanks to his use of Leigh that touches on the basics that a new reader may need. Swierczynski, Nguyen, and Madsen deserve a nice pat on the back for a creepy, new reader-friendly, issue that should be given a chance by any comic fan.