CCI: X-25 - Motter talks Mister X

In 1983, Dean Motter wrote the first installment of his groundbreaking "Mister X" series. The titular character claimed to have been the architect of the dystopia known as Radiant City, and he further claimed that the "psychetexture" of said city was driving its inhabitants insane. The mysterious Mister X dedicated his every waking hour to repairing his broken metropolis. Now, 25 years after "Mister X" first debuted under the banner of Vortex Comics, his creator is rebooting the character at Dark Horse. CBR News caught up with Motter to get the details.

As in the original series, the reboot will deal with Mister X's return to Radiant City to repair the dystopia it has become. "Events are set in motion by the mayor's program to demolish and rebuild the most terrible sections of town," Motter said. "The sanctuary of an ancient brotherhood of classical architects is accidentally razed with all the occupants inside. The machinations at City Hall to cover their rear ends kick into high gear, as this is an election year. A task not made any easier by the expose written by Modern Times reporter Rosetta Stone as she digs up the dirt, or the return of Mister X. There is also a serial killer on the loose, known as 'The City Boy' who targets influential city big wigs." And Mister X's onetime flame, Mercedes, finds her apartment building on the mayor's demolition list. "The origins of the city are explored, along with Mister X's identities and his tumultuous relationship with Mercedes."

The most recent "Mister X" collections had been published by the late Byron Preiss' ibooks, but Motter was never satisfied with the quality of the reproductions. "There simply wasn't the editorial attention or technical expertise to pull either effort off the way I preferred," Motter said. After ibooks folded in the wake of Preiss' passing, "Mister X" was relegated to comics limbo. That is, until Motter approached his "longtime ally," Dark Horse senior editor Diana Schutz. "Diana was interested in doing "Mister X" as a possible ongoing set of mini-series (ala 'Hellboy') as well as redoing the collection as the conventional archives 'brick.' Additionally, she commissioned an 8-page Mister X tale for (Dark Horse's) upcoming "NOIR" anthology. The XXV idea came from seeing the commemorative promotions at last year's SDCC for 'Love & Rockets' and 'Grendel.'"

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the character, Dark Horse is publishing a 384-page hardcover collected edition of the original "Mister X" material. Fans were dissatisfied with the mis-pagination and muddy rescans in the ibook collections, but there will be no such gripes with the new Dark Horse edition. It also features "some important collateral tie-ins, such as the Black Label Beer ad featuring Herr X," Motter's revised and restored finale for the original series, and a forward by Warren Ellis.

Motter likens the reboot in the upcoming 4-issue mini "Mister X: Condemned" to the "Batman Begins'" revitalization of the Batman film franchise. "It is different in that it returns to the sensibility of my original concept," Motter said. "It is a darker, more mysterious tale." This time around, Motter is penciling the book himself, and he relishes the creative control this affords him. "There are nods to the Hernandez Bros and Seth who collaborated with me on the original series, but for the most part this is the way it was envisioned by myself and Paul Rivoche 25 years back."

The original "Mister X" is rooted firmly in the noir genre, and the new series has much the same tone. Motter cited "Double Indemity," "Naked City," "M," "Metropolis," "Night and the City," "Dead End," "Maltese Falcon," and "Alphaville" as inspirations, as well as more recent noir films "Blade Runner," "The Man who Wasn't There" and "The Hudsucker Proxy." Visually, "Mister X: Condemned" is rooted in Art Deco, German Expressionism and the Bauhaus architectural aesthetics that the original series is famous for. "And it is self-contained so that it doesn't require one to have read the archives or the original series," Motter said.

Fans will get their first glimpses of the new Mister X in an 8-page prologue soon to be featured on MySpace Dark Horse Presents. Dark Horse is putting out a tin "Mister X" lunchbox this fall, and if "Mister X: Condemned" performs well enough, additional "Mister X" mini-series won't be far behind. More information on "Mister X: Condemned" can be found on Motter's website, HYPERLINK "http://www.deanmotter.com/news.htm" "_blank" www.deanmotter.com/news.htm. Look for the "Mister X" hardcover collection this October, and the first issue of "Mister X: Condemned" early next year.

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