Xombi #12 – 16
Written by John Rozum, Art by J.J. Birch and Denys Cowan
Initially I had planned to cover the entire series in three entries, one for each of the major arcs, but upon rereading it I realized that I had forgotten just how long it was between “School of Anguish” and “Hidden Cities” arcs! With five single issues bridging the gaps between the two arcs I was forced to break my look at the series into four posts rather than three. Unlike the previous two posts there’s no singular arc present in these issues. Instead there’s a vague and loose thematic arc depicting David Kim and his gradual, reluctant acceptance of his new life. It’s comprised of three single issue tales a two parter that’s vaguely connected to a summer cross that Milestone was running at the time.
Issues #12 – #13 continue along the thread started in “School of Anguish” and deal with David’s first, tentative steps toward accepting and learning to deal with his new situation as he seeks out help from Rabbi Sinnowitz and contemplates how to break the news of his condition to his heretofore unseen wife, Dahlila. Up until now she’s only been mentioned as being out of the country due to work, but here we’re finally given a glimpse of Dahlila herself, not to mention some notion as to what kind of a person and character she is. There’s also a haunting, cautionary tale from Rabbi Sinnowitz’ past which serves as an official prelude to “Hidden Cities”, the next major arc, and introduces the Kinderessen, a threat that will turn up again in the series fairly soon. While the next three issues, #14 – #16, are technically part of a company wide crossover the first issue functions fine as a stand alone tale and requires no knowledge of anything outside of Xombi, but the final two are a little trickier. Several characters who have appeared elsewhere in the Milestone Universe pop up, but thankfully just about everything you need to know is given to you within the story itself and hopefully folks who are unfamiliar with them will be able to muddle through. Honestly it was a bit difficult to write about these issues as a whole since there’s no real overarching plot tying them together. There is the vague theme of David Kim slowly acclimating to the weirdness and starting to take in step, but the momentum of the first two issues almost feels derailed by the final three. That said we do get some development thanks a brief look into David Kim’s normal life and there’s the introduction of a wonderful new supporting character in the form of Cheryl Saltz, a fellow scientist and friend of David’s. She’s one of the highlights of the this “arc” and I can only hope that she’ll pop up again in the new series.
The artwork in this issues are fine and the oddities from Birch’s art in “School of Anguish” are gone. The oddness is actually toned down a bit after the dream sequence and the creatures are far from the surrealist nightmares that have appeared to date. That said, Birch digs deep and cranks out a very basic but primal nightmare in the Kinderressen, creatures who are fairly generic as far as monsters go, but also seem to fit the very basic premise of a childhood monster, large, threatening, dark, hairy and viscous as hell. They’re not terribly fancy or fantastic visually, but I thought it was the simplicity of their design that makes them so memorable. It’s also worth mentioning that the final three issues in the arc feature a switch to the high gloss paper stock which makes the Noelle Gidding’s colors really pop and helps give the artwork a much fuller and lush feel.
While I enjoyed these issues I can’t help shake the feeling that the final three are place holder material due to the cross over, and that Rozum would have happily dived into the “Hidden Cities” arc three issues earlier if possible. They break up the flow the series had developed over the past twelve issues and when you look at the series and the arcs as David Kim’s development and growing into his new life, they kind of stick out. Still, the first two issues are incredibly important and the final three, thematically awkward though they may be, are pretty damn fun.
Xombi #12 – 16 were published by Milestone Comics.