Six issues into the revamp of Dark Horse's "X," and Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen have a strong enough feel for the comic that it's moved beyond the early set-up mode into fine-tuning and adding onto the base. "X" #6 is a perfect example of that; X and Leigh's relationship is developing, new supporting cast members have arrived, and a new corrupt group is revamped from the original series.
The Dogs of War were probably the least interesting of the original 16 concepts introduced in the "Comics' Greatest World" mini-series back in the day, so it's nice to see that this new version is connected to them in name only. Here, they're just a squad of corrupt police officers, and their terrorizing a couple that run a local convenience store feels much more in step with the rest of "X" and Arcadia in general. Swierczynski's story here is rooted strongly in reality, easily the most of any of the issues to date, and maybe that's why it's so captivating as a result. Corrupt cops are hardly a stretch, after all, and while neither the Dogs nor El Jefe's life expectancy appears to be too long, they're both the sort of characters that could just as easily stick around for a while and become good long-running adversaries. At this point they've got a good motivation for going up against X, and the title could use a regular villain for an extended stretch.
While Leigh's a bit more in the background this month, I feel like her presence is still strongly felt. The shift in X's tactics is definitely at least in part due to her, although at the same time it's also clear that she hasn't "tamed" X in any way, shape, or form. In many ways I think she's better served as being someone in the background, back at the base; she doesn't quite fit on the front lines, something that "X" #5 showed us quite well. It's a nice organic growth for the title over the course of these six issues, and I like that everything is clicking into place easily and enjoyably. Even new officer Ruidoso fits well here; with so much corruption in the world of "X," it's important to show the other side of the coin, and his skepticism towards X feels natural and a good set-up for later revelations to come.
Nguyen returns to the art after a month off, and his slightly exaggerated and distended figures are fun to look at. It's a very deliberate take on the human form from Nguyen; look at the difference between the relatively sedate Mr. and Mrs. Luy, and the faces of the Dogs of War. The latter end up over the top with almost rubber faces as they scream, and it's that exaggeration that makes them marked before X comes along to literally do so. I found myself also enjoying this month some of the visual angles that Nguyen chose when drawing Swierczynski's script. When we get a ground-level view of X's boot soul coming down towards the Dogs, for instance, it's a dramatic and fun view that stands out. It's a great transition to the next page, where we see that boot connecting with an officer's head, a good one-two punch (so to speak) with a visual set-up and execution.
"X" #6 just gets better and better, and it's a pleasure to have this book on a monthly basis. If you're in the mood for a dark crime series, "X" marks the spot. All in all, their best effort yet.