Review - X'ED #1 (@blackmaskstudio)

"Are you in there?"

There's an inherent risk in venturing into one's mind, whether it be via therapy, hypnosis or even dreams. Rarely does that risk manifest itself as one that's physical, but that won't stop Dark Circle Comics from delving into that topic. X'ED #! does just that. The issue is written by Tony Patrick, illustrated by Ayhan Hayrula, colored by Doug Garbark and lettered by Jim Campbell.

X'ED is a sci-fi thriller about a next-gen form of psychiatry: "subliminal hitmen" injected into your mind who hunt down and kill the demons that haunt you. Ex-military sharpshooter Colin McClure is Mezign Corporation's most recent recruit for the still-experimental (and often deadly) job of subliminal hitman. McClure is the perfect candidate for two reasons: a) he's a killing machine, and b) he lost his legs in the war, so subliminal-ops are his only way to see any action. But he's also a dangerous candidate for one reason unknown to Mezign: Colin's true motive is to enter the mind of his catatonic daughter and bring her out of a coma.

There's a coarseness to X'ED #1 that Patrick relies on to make the book feel gritty. McClure is quite the possibly best he is at what he does, which is delving into the memories of those who want certain memories destroyed. There would definitely be a market for McClure's talents and Patrick even uses that to great effect in setting up the context of the universe. Patrick's approach in literally making the mind a battlefield works really well and presents a weaponized approach in dealing with the inner workings of the mind. That mechanism also works for carrying the story and making McClure out to be something of a hero of sorts who just wants to get out.

The story is pretty gritty and Hayrula matches that feel with artwork that's discombobulated. The mind is a pretty chaotic place that's emphasized by random fish appearing, savage landscapes and the appearance of memory bodyguards known as Mifs. There are a few panels where the kinetics of the characters feel a little off. For instance, a couple panels have people running and it looks like they're frozen in time as opposed to actually running. Garbark uses colors to great effect as well, casting the actual characters in a pale blue tone to emphasize their existence in reality.

X'ED #1 has a feeling that resembles something like Inception or Avatar with the exception that the destination is the vastness that is the human mind. McClure is a hero when he goes in and is willing to make dangerous decisions if necessary. Patrick paces the story with pretty sharp dialogue that gives the reader the insight necessary to appreciate what's going on. Hayrula's illustrations are messy in a positive way, underscoring the helter-skelter nature of the human mind. X'ED #1 is an interesting first issue that adds intrigue to a rather familiar subject.

X'ED is in stores December 2.