“Mister X” is one of those comics where I know I should hunt down some collections and finally read them (after all, any comic where the Hernandez Brothers and Paul Rivoche drew the early issues has got to be worth a look), but I’m largely unfamiliar with Dean Motter’s comic that put him on the map. With this one-shot telling a three-part story about a pharmaceutical heiress being kidnapped and Mister X hired to bring her back, it felt like as good a place as any to give it a whirl.
Motter’s story is a little flat, unfortunately. It’s not bad, but I feel like there should be some sort of kick to it that never quite arrives. In many ways it’s a stereotypical hard-boiled detective story, as Mister X tries to find the missing Tootsie even as a body part is delivered to her grandmother wrapped up in a candy box. Mister X eventually solves the case, but the logic chain on doing so feels a little weak, and I’m not terribly convinced it’s that deep of a story to begin with. Still, it’s a complete story and it’s told competently enough, it’s just hard to get excited by its pacing.
On the other hand, Motter’s art in “Mister X: Hard Candy” looks pretty snazzy. I like his blocky, retro art style here. He understands how to use colors to accentuate that look — the blue tint throughout Mister X’s first appearance goes well with his black glasses and coat — and “Mister X: Hardy Candy” doesn’t look quite like any other comic on the market. Each panel is its own little piece of art, even as Motter lets the action flow from one to the next smoothly. Some of the characters are a bit too much of an archetype for me — Madame Freidkin is a bit too much the old powerful lady, and I rolled my eyes at the belt/collar/tank top/camouflage briefs uniform for boy toy Augustus — but at the same time I will give Motter credit that he makes it work to tell everything in just 24 pages.
“Mister X: Hard Candy” is a nice enough introduction to the world of “Mister X,” although I’m hoping that the stories in general have a bit more of a punch. Still, no big complaints here, and if another “Mister X” story rolls down the pike I’ll definitely take a look at it. So, mission accomplished.