Mister X is a strange and wonderful blend of noir and retro-futurism. Beginning with a story of architecture gone wrong, it takes us on a bizarre journey that can be a bit confusing at times, but is always entertaining.
Radiant City was designed and built on the principles of “psychetecture:” the idea that the size, shape, and general appearance of the buildings around you can be used to influence your state of mind and general mental well-being. Psychetecture was supposed to have a positive effect on the citizens of Radiant City, but something went wrong, and, instead, people are going crazy. There are mad scientists, killer robots, serial killers, and much more. The government is embarking on a project to demolish the offending buildings; however, nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and there’s a massive web of conspiracies, cover-ups, and secret plans brewing underneath the surface, if anyone cares to look.
The “anyone” who cares to look is Ms. Rosetta “Rosey” Stone, a Lois Lane-type reporter. There are plenty of higher-ups in the city who would love to wave away her investigations, but she has a powerful informant: a mysterious man known only as Mister X. Part of a group known as the Vitruvians who designed and built Radiant City, he’s now made it his mission to save it.
There are a number of different plot threads going on at any given time, with all sorts of twists and turns and shady characters throughout this story—most of whom have something to hide. Like any good noir story, it can be difficult to follow exactly what’s going on in the plot at any given time; however, also like any good noir story, that barely matters. The story is vastly entertaining and told very well from beginning to end.
Perhaps the best part, though, is the artwork by Dean Motter who also wrote the story. It has the look and feel of an old 1940s comic, including the clothes and surroundings. Its retro-futurism style brings to mind such classic films as Dark City and Brazil, and with good reason—both those films, and plenty of others, drew visual inspiration from Mister X. If you look closer, you’ll then see the films from which Mister X drew its inspiration, which include things like Metropolis and Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. This comic has quite a legacy to live up to, and it does so beautifully.
This is quite a large volume, containing three different story arcs in the Mister X saga, as well as several short stories. As such, it may take some time to get through. It’s worth it every step of the way, though. This is a comic like no other, and I can’t recommend it enough. You won’t be able to put this one down.