Thursday, 17 December 2009

Mister X: Condemned (Dark Horse Books 2009)

The collected edition of the latest Mister X story, Condemned, brings together all four issues of the Dark Horse mini series and is a welcome return to Radiant City for fans of the mysterious architect and the dangers of psychetecture. The original run of Mister X is a genuine cult classic, and much beloved by me. I was too young to enjoy it the first time around, but after being introduced to the character by a close friend I was hooked and picked up a bunch of the original issues on eBay. Since then I've been hooked, soaking up every art deco flavoured panel.

If you're not familiar with the universe of Mister X and Radiant City, the story follows the mysterious Mister X as he returns to the city he designed, the architecture of which was intended to promote mental well-being, sort of feng shui on a massive scale. Unfortunately the city's design began to send its inhabitants insane, turning them into murderers, drug addicts and lunatics. Mister X returned to try and correct the problem and save the city before it descended into chaos. The Condemned mini series sees him back again, and getting wound up in a murder mystery to boot.

Dean Motter has brought the character and his universe back with every bit of the noir/art deco style that the classic issues contained, and grips the reader from start to finish with a tale full of the customary twists, turns and intrigue. Mister X is an enigmatic figure who loses little of his power no matter what the reader discovers about him, and that's one of Motter's greatest strengths. Even when you have all the facts in front of you, there always seems to be more to discover.

One of the great things about Mister X is that it hasn't aged much at all since its inception, largely down to the world it is set in being so complete and beautifully crafted. The art is gorgeous and pulpy, the script tight while having a great depth, and the overall package has left me clambering to dig out those classic issues again. The concept of a city driven mad by its own buildings is quite sinister, and the revelations about the 'Ninth Academy' in this series are superb.

It's a cool jumping on point for people who want to get the hang of the Mister X universe without forking out for the archive hardback, but once you've read Mister X: Condemned, that hardback will become very difficult to resist. A great work of comic art noir, and a superb story to boot. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some shades and a long black coat to don, and some shadows to skulk around in.

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