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Xombi #1

Posted by Luke Brown On March - 22 - 2011

DC relaunched one of the original Milestone titles Xombi this month, and with it comes original creator John Rozum. With some bizarre story elements to keep you guessing, and characters that are much more than meets the eye, Xombi #1 sets a solid example of how to relaunch a comic right.

Xombi #1
Written by John Rozum
Art by Frasier Irving

I have to admit, when I first heard about this book, I was like, “Xomba-what now?” Of all the Milestone titles to return, this was the one I knew the least about. Fortunately for me, this new edition is perfect for first-time readers, and required little knowledge of the character or world he lived in. David Kim is a living zombie. He never hungers, tires, or has to go to the bathroom. His body is pumped full of nanomachines, which not only enables him to outlive his friends and loved ones, but also imbue him with the ability to transmute the molecular structures of other things in the world to suit his needs. Need a key? David can focus his nanites to fashion one perfect for the lock. Want to turn paper into popcorn? No problem. As long as the nanomachines are familiar with the core elements at play, they can do it. It’s an amazing gift, and one that’s attracted some strange company for David.

Things that shouldn’t be happening are happening all over the world. Animals from classic artwork hunt from painting to painting in hopes of finding their next meal. Hens give live birth to chicks. Movie monsters walk amongst the viewers instead of staying on screen. Across the planet, instances just like these are occurring, and there’s only one man who might be able to find out why. David is put on the case by a friend in Brazil, but he won’t be working alone. Teaming with a small cadre of nuns, David must investigate the whereabouts of the number one suspect in causing these odd juxtapositions. Rozum does a nice job creating mystery and atmosphere that invoke the some of the more memorable moments from Morrison’s Doom Patrol, and spices in characters that initially appear to be one-note, but are actually as complex as a sonata. While it could be said that there’s actually too much going on without any explanation in this first issue, the sheer outrageousness of killer snow angels and molecularly-condensed prison barracks is enough to sate your curiosity palette for now. There’s a nice split between how open and honest David is with the reader about his abilities and his past, and the unanswered questions put forth by the events that take place later in the book. If Rozum’s able to cohesively bring these elements together, and give the readers some plausible answers, we’re all going to be in store for something special.

Now, if there’s one aspect of the book that I don’t necessarily care for, it’s Frasier Irving’s art. I sometimes like Irving’s style, but it just didn’t gel with the narrative for me. His storytelling and layouts are strong, but the characters felt stiff and lifeless, and that kept me from becoming as immersed as I believe the creators intended. There are a lot of people out there who really enjoy Irving’s interiors, and I can see that there are elements of his work that are so different from what we’re used to traditionally seeing inside a comic book that it can be appealing. For Xombi though, it just feels out of place. It’s odd too since Irving’s work on Klarion the Witch Boy was full of supernatural charm and eerieness, but neither of those aspects appear here. That all said, if Irving does stay on the book, I’m certainly not going to stop reading it. He’s a competent artist who knows how to pace a story, particularly one as laden with mystery as this book, and perhaps his artwork will grow on me if I’m able to see it on a more regular basis.

If Xombi #1 has shown me anything, it’s that it’s good to be weird. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything as crazy and creative as this, and I look forward to where Rozum is going with the mystery. Even though I’m not 100% sold on the art, I’m going to stick with the book. For now. Unfortunately, Xombi isn’t a superhero title starring Superman or Batman, and that means the readership might not be strong enough to keep the book around. How these first few issues play out has a lot to do with whether or not I’ll keep coming back for more, but I’ve got a feeling that Xombi is a title I’ll be sticking with for quite a while. I just hope there’s enough of an audience to keep the book going long enough to get some answers.

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