Reviewed by Cal Cleary
Writer: John Rozum
Artist: Frazer Irving
Cover: Frazer Irving
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Release Date: March 16, 2011
I had never read John Rozum's original Xombi before. I'd never even heard of Xombi. I largely picked up Xombi #1 out of respect for Frazer Irving's fantastic art and a general curiosity about new #1's that aren't attached to some kind of event or marketing push. I came into Xombi #1 with absolutely no expectations. I say this all only to highlight my surprise at this statement: Xombi #1 is probably the best single issue I've read in 2011.
Rozum, who created the character in the early 90s, gives us a pretty quick rundown of series star David Kim, aka the Xombi, but the origin story blows by in much the same tone the rest of the issue does: friendly, confident and more than a little absurd. The plot follows David, an otherwise normal man infested with enough nanotech to make him functionally immortal, who is called onto assignment to investigate a Catholic Church-run superprison that has gone mysteriously quiet. Joining him on this quest are representatives of the Church, including minor superheroic pair Nun of the Above and Nun the Less.
Frazer Irving's color-intensive artistic style - much of the book is bathed in either yellow, blue, or pink - does a lot to manage the book's atmosphere in creative ways. The sudden shift as they enter the prison to an intense, pink light heightened the tension significantly, and the arrival of the first issue's monstrous threats, the background sudden drops to a cold, sterile blue. Irving's action scenes are competent and his characters are distinct and well-designed, but his work with the colors to control and heighten the book's atmosphere is surprising and undeniably effective.
DC deserves praise here, along with Rozum and Irving, for taking a chance on such an intriguing new title. Xombi #1 is a legitimately excellent opening to a new series, a fascinating, offbeat adventure story in the vein of Morrison's legendary Doom Patrol or Simone's underrated The All-New Atom. It's the kind of incredibly rare title that can incorporate pun-based humor into the origin of murderous new villain without coming off as campy, without even shifting a beat. It's creepy. It's funny. It's very, very good.
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