Tag Archives: Frazer Irving

Book of the week 34: Xombi #6

This week was a bit of a downer as far as comics are concerned to me. I tore into some Avatar books (Caligula, Crossed. Psychopath) and decided they weren’t really what I had hoped them to be. The same rings true for X-men Legacy and the Infinite by Kirkman and Liefeld. However, this week’s comics provided gems like the Ultimates, Mystery Men and Xombi.

1. Xombi #6 (DC comics)


I really hate it when I repeat my picks, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Xombi, from DC, really is one of the most entertaining and well made comics that I currently know of. It was only two weeks ago that I raved about the penultimate issue five and this week’s issue delivers just as much.

Since I concentrated mostly on the art in my review of the last issue, I’ll dig into the story and the writing this time. I can be sweet and short about the art though, it’s marvelous, take a look at the digitally painted sweetness of Frazer Irving in the pictures here, or take a gander at my review of last issue for the proof.

This series has been written by John Rozum, the original co-creator of Xombi, back in 1994. Xombi is a Korean-American superhero, created for Milestone media, the DC publishing imprint from back in the nineties. The first Xombi series reached 21 issues, and was part of the shared continuity of the Millstone– or Dakotaverse (Milestone heroes didn’t live in New York, but refreshingly in the Midwestern Dakota). Last year, through the Milestone Forever event, most of the Milestone heroes have been merged into the main DC continuity.

Xombi is a young guy, named David Kim, who used to work on a nanotechnological virus. Because of the nefarious interventions of one Dr. Sugarman, David was critically injured. When his assistant injects him with the virus to save his life, the virus does repair the damage done by Dr. Sugarman. However, it uses said assistant as fuel for the reparation process; the nanites devour her. This is the price that David Kim must pay for becoming a Xombi, a potentially immortal, technologically enhanced human being who keeps running into the supernatural. His superpower is basically twofold: he can repair himself from both physical harm as well as the effects of aging; he can mechanically alter the molecular configuration of everything he touches (for example making popcorn from paper, or a key from a coin).

The first issue of the current series starts out with David getting a call from his ally Julian Parker that he is needed in Dakota where it seems a very bad guy has escaped from a miniature prison, leaving a miniature bloody mess. When he arrives on the scene, he is met by a group of Catholic super-heroines: Nun of the Above, Nun the Less and Catholic Girl. Their investigation leads them to one Annie Porter having a discussion with Roland Finch, it appears that Annie was coaxed by Finch into breaking out a certain prisoner from the miniature prison. It turns out the prisoner is the vessel of Maranatha, the personification of God’s wrath, which Finch had intended for himself. Issues two and three depict a great fight with this being, which of course the good guys win. Afterwards Annie explains to our heroes, which are joined by the afore mentioned Julian Parker and Rabbi Sinnowitz, that Finch has stolen a chart, mapping out the positions of a number of mysterious and wonderful flying cities, which he intends to conquer. Annie originally came from one of those cities, the Skull Fortress, which has been taken over by the evil Roland Finch. Since his take-over, she has spent life as an exile, down on earth, doing everything she can to get the chart back. The last half of this series deals with the heroes planning and attacking the Skull Fortress.

Throughout this whole series John Rozum introduces a great many crazy, big ideas, issue six is no exception, with enemies like the Sisterhood of the Blood Mummies, who wear cloaks woven from spider silk, by spiders which crawl all over these cloaks making any necessary repairs and feeding on the mosquitoes drawn to the sisters, as well as the Dental Phantoms, who communicate through tickertape coming out of their mouths. This issue of course follows the culmination of the battle for the Skull Fortress and let’s just say that when all seems lost its wisdom that prevails. However, it´s not just action and wacky concepts. Rozum´s story shines in the parts with character development and especially when he explores the different ways that Annie and David handle their immortality and the loss of those around them who are (mere?) mortals.

John Rozum’s website does seem to imply that there may be more Xombi coming out in the future, but that could just be me reading into things. In the meantime, we’ll just have to make do with his new Staticshock series, which is one of DC’s new 52 series… Also, this volume of Xombi will make for a beautiful collected edition. If you want to get it and want to support the creators a bit more, buy it at Amazon through John Rozum’s website.
Art:9   Writing:9.5     Overall:9.3

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Book of the week 32: Xombi #5 (DC comics)

An okay week this time, a perfect number of books, not many from this week, but most of them scored pretty high on my own personal enjoyment scale. Scores averaged to 8.1 on 14 titles. I rounded it all of this weekend with the third story arc from Image comics’ Chew. Which provided some most excellent Sunday afternoon reading material. While writing the reviews tonight I stumbled upon the great little video’s from reviewtopia.net, called A Comic Minute. This totally made my day, go check it out: It’s one minute staccato summaries/reviews with the art from the books in one minute or less!

1. Xombi #5 (DC comics)

Cover art from Xombie #5, by Frazier Irving, published by DC comics.

Cover art from Xombi #5, by Frazer Irving, published by DC comics.

Xombi, to me is the surprise hit out of DC this year. I’ve been a devotee of Frazer Irving’s since his run on the Inhumans (the Silent War miniseries) at Marvel. Thinking back at that now it seemed a crude way of painting comics, more akin to Daniel Acuna then say JH Williams III. The selling feature mainly being that the art was painted, not necessarily how or why it was painted. But with Xombi he has stepped up his game big time. From the first issue onward, it was clear that Irving chose a bold color pallet, with which he would play around in different scenes and shots. This issue, it finally hit me however, that it’s not just the colors or his Dali-esque surrealism, but even more it’s the way he handles lighting that makes my jaw hit the floor approximately once every two pages. Wheter it’s in mundane situations like an apartment with the television being the main light source, or in a magical environment like the flying platforms; Irving understands light sources and the way their light breaks or hits objects, like no other artist I know of.
Opening page from Xombie #5, with art by Frazier Irving, published by DC comics.

Opening page from Xombi #5, with art by Frazer Irving, published by DC comics.

Last issue, I felt, dragged its tail a little, because it was mostly characters talking to explain the back-story of the flying platforms, the Skull Fortress and newcomer Annie. It looked good, was well written and still very entertaining, but I just missed the all-out, wacky action, and that’s what this issue delivers as David Kim (aka Xombi) and his rag tag reli crew prepare to invade the Skull Fortress and fight this series’ adversary Roland Finch. Most of the issue deals with preparing for battle, while only the last three pages depict the beginning of the battle. Yet, still this issue delivers on all fronts. It has the characters strolling through the flying stronghold and admiring its majestic views; getting into fights with each other; talking strategy; battling; and taking some relationship advice. This issue invested much in humanizing the characters, especially Annie and David. Annie is guilt-ridden about her part in Finch’s rise to power and worried about what her time as an exile from the flying strongholds (where time comes to a stop) has done with her life, while David is preoccupied with the fact that he has never told his fiancé about his powers and his superhero lifestyle. When both of these characters get into a discussion with their own problems on their minds, things go BOOM! Writer John Rozum writes wonderfully realistic and relatable dialogues between two characters that are drawn to each other, but too different from each other to make a worthwhile connection. That is one aspect of the story I had not foreseen when I opened this issue. Great human writing, in between of all the over-the-top, whacky, super heroics, make the stakes feel much higher.

A gorgeous page by Frazier Irving, from Xombie #5, published by DC comics.

A gorgeous page by Frazer Irving, from Xombi #5, published by DC comics.

I really have nothing but praise for this issue and this series as a whole. Before I started this volume, I’d never read a Xombi comic (or any Milestone publication for that matter), but that did not cause any problems to my enjoyment of this book. I really can’t recommend it high enough! I was innitially worried that Xombi would disappear after the DC reboot next month, but I just found out that a new series will start in February. (Damn, that was a year old, I don’t think there are plans in the work for more Xombi…) If you’re still not sure about it, please take a look at this Comic Minute from the first issue:
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hPFugrfvcAI.html width=”480″ height=”385″]
Art: 9.5 Writing: 9,5       Overall: 9.5