Xombi #2

The DCU is a peculiar place at the moment. The lines between the main line of books and the Vertigo imprint have always been a little blurry, but with the dissolution of Wildstorm, and a more loose interpretation of what the publisher releases as part of its main line, a few weird books, like Xombi, seem inevitable.

This isn’t a bad thing at all. Back in the frontier days before Vertigo, books like Swamp Thing and Animal Man could happen – books set within the DCU, and as such presenting canon, but where weird ideas and continuity could sprout and flourish.

Of course, Xombi’s an oddity from the off, coming as it does from the absorption of the late Dwayne McDuffie’s imprint, Milestone, and at this point in the second issue, it’s unclear whether the DC Universe will feature that heavily in this book. Actually, this book is so cool and unusual that it almost definitely won’t find it’s audience, and will be cancelled before we really get to see what John Rozum and Frazer Irving intend to do with it, but that’s beside the point.

This issue is the second part of the opening arc, “The Green House”, and continues the insanity that began in the series debut. It starts mid-conflict, with the titular character, David Kim, having his arm turned inside out by a Snow Angel. It’s been established already that it’d be almost impossible to kill Kim, but Rozum and Irving do a good job of creating tension and drama from his pain. And it takes a dramatic solution from one of his comrades to rescue him.

So, within two pages the hero has to make an incredible sacrifice to get out of trouble, and we’re reminded of the Snow Angel concept – a shape in space that you can’t look at without terrible things happening to you -the sort of abstract and unnerving idea that you’d expect to see in Morrison era Doom Patrol, or some of the creepier episodes of Doctor Who.

And actually, this book reminds me a little of the more recent series of Doctor Who, with Steven Moffat as show-runner, because whereas Who has become a show that remembers at plot-point that it has heady tropes like time-travel available to it, this is a comic that core-deep realises that it is only really limited by imagination. If Rozum can think it, and Irving can draw it, it’s up for grabs.

The awesome supporting characters Catholic Girl, Nun The Less and Nun Of The Above are still around, and the inclusion of them is apt – Xombi exists in a world where weird science and weird religion meet and do something… weird. In the first three pages, the comic drops a gun that shoots bullets with the power of the saints depicted on their casings, as if it’s nothing. And this is against a backdrop of monsters and ghost children. The story, and Irving’s  evocative and beautifully coloured art, disorients the reader, perching them somewhere between horror and wonder.

I loved the first issue, and this second installment kept that enthusiasm going. And because this is only tangentially the DCU, I still don’t have any clue as to what the threat level is, which is a rare thing in comics.

The only downside is the non-sequitir six-page comic in the back, that’s an advert for the Arkham City video game. The comic is only $2.99, but I still feel like this isn’t the place for that sort of hard advertising.