Current Reviews


Agent X #11

Posted: Monday, June 16, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artists: Juan Bobillo (p), Marcelo Sosa (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with Agent X 4.2 seconds away from having his head explosively removed from the rest of his body by a killer cyborg, but he's saved by the fighting mad Fight-Mad, an indestructible, super-strong goon who was forced into retirement by a city that was actively terrified of his heroic activities. As Fight-Man lives up to his name by kicking the snot out of a trio of baddies, we see Agent X is quick to sign on as Fight Man's sidekick, as Alex has decided that it's for the best to team-up with the psychotic Fight-Man, if only to keep tabs on the man until he can rescue Sandi from the clutches of the evil, and equally demented ex-wife of Fight-Man. What follows is a hilarious city wide romp, that has Agent X & Fight-Man battling their way through an army of lame villains, and the only thing that serves to dampen Alex's enjoyment of this display of gratuitous violence & bloodletting, is Fight-Man's insistence that they don't kill any of the villains, as heroes don't kill. However, when Fight-Man's ex-wife arrives on the scene with her newly acquired superpowers, we learn Fight-Man also has a code about not hitting women, and as such he's a bit useless during the final battle. However, the day is saved by an errant super-villain, and after dropping a building on a pantless Fight-Man, Alex & Sandi head for home.

A highly entertaining romp that manages to elevate mindless violence into high comedy. I mean how can one not love the character of Frank (aka. Fight-Man), and his "punch first, ask questions never" approach to fighting crime. From the string of dead sidekicks, to his disastrous three and thirteen track record when it comes to rescuing hostages, Fight-Man is a hilarious example of a super-hero gone wrong. What makes the character even more fun is that in spite of his reckless approach to being a super-hero, he still holds true to the super-hero code about not killing (though maiming is perfectly acceptable), and in one of the more amusing moments we also learn Fight-Man also has a code against hitting women. Fight-Man is a hilarious creation and I'd love to see him again, as he's a very clever parody of the typical, super aggressive, take no prisoners style anti-hero that fandom embraced in the 1990s. I'd love to see Fight-Man take a tour of the Marvel Universe, as the character is a delightful parody of all the worst elements that the 1990s inflicted upon us, and this is an era of comics this is ripe for lampooning. I mean just imagine what Garth Ennis could do with this character over in the pages of the Punisher, as it would be a rare opportunity to place Frank Castle in a team-up where he's not playing the bad cop.

This issue also manages to stick its foot over the line numerous times, so that one is left quite surprised by the fact that Evan Dorkin managed to slip these moments into a comic rated PG+. I mean there's nothing overly offensive, but starting with the rather suggestive cover, this issue is littered with moments where one almost feels guilty about having so much fun with this material. However, the issue does stand up as one of the funniest issues of this series, and yes I'm even including the Deadpool series, as I haven't had this much fun reading this book since Deadpool ran across Batroc the Leaper. From Frank's delightfully goofy super-hero dialogue, in which he even takes the time to list off the names of the villains he's fighting, I simply couldn't get enough of this character. In fact while Agent X was in fine form as he was busy complaining about having to following the stupid "no killing" super-hero code, the simple fact of the matter is that Fight-Man stole the show (and the spotlight too). There's several laugh aloud moments to be found in these pages, from Frank's dismissal of Alex's sissy ninja subterfuge plan, to the way that the big, bad villainess is defeated. This issue made me into a huge fan of Evan Dorkin, and it's truly a shame his time on this book was for such a short time, as he's exactly what this book needed.

I was impressed with his work in the previous issue, but this is the issue where Juan Bobillo knocked it out of the park, as this is a highly chaotic issue full of visual gags & where every panel is jam packed with visual information. I mean this is a fantastic looking issue where Juan Bobillo proves he's a ready for prime-time player, as the amount of detail on the page it truly impressive, and the way the work clearly conveys the needed information to the readers is very strong. There's also some wonderful visual touches, such as the speed trail lines blending perfectly into the impact shots, as how can one not love the panel where Fight-Man's fist passes through the villain's head to nail Agent X right in the face. In fact I love the little geometric designs that are used to convey Fight-Man's actions. There's also some cute little visual gags, like Alex's attempt the craft himself a disguise out of spare robot parts, or the fact the Fight-Man's chest logo reads "Here 2 Hit". The rubber chicken rocket is also rather cute, as is the panel where Alex deals with Black Lung, the villain with the hands of cancer. However, the simple fact of the matter is that what really impressed me about this issue's art if that it managed to convey the completely and utter chaos of the big brawl, as Fight-Man & Agent X take on an army of super-villains, and manage to do an extraordinary amount of property damage while doing so.

Final Word:
One of the funniest comics I've read in years, as Evan Dorkin introduces Fight-Man into the Marvel Universe, and in the process he has a grand old time lampooning the collection of heroes who rose to popularity in the 1990s with their big shoulder pads, and even bigger guns. Now Fight-Man is really just a big, strong goon who runs around cause an extraordinary amount of damage, but his adherence to the super-hero code of not killing makes him into a hilarious contrast. From his cheesy super-hero banter (Hot damn! I thought I heard evil simmering in the kitchen!), to his belief that the only way to deal with a situation is to rush in with guns ablazing, Fight-Man is one of the most enjoyable comedic creations I'm ever come across. I know this is Agent X's book, and he makes several enjoyable contributions to the action, but Fight-Man is the real star of this adventure, and I can't recommend this issue enough to fans looking for the perfect comedic realization of the mindless, utterly pointless slugfest. Truly wonderful work.

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