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Agent X #3

Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: UDON with Dave Ahn, Rob Ross, Omar Dogan, Calvin Lo, Arnold Tsang & Andrew Hou

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
The book opens with Agent X having it out with the Taskmaster, as Agent X didn't care much for the idea that the Taskmaster neglected to tell him that the mission he lined up for him last issue, pitted him against the Punisher. After Agent X puts on a fairly impressive showing against a clearly outclassed Taskmaster, we look in on a young girl who calls herself Mary Zero. We then see that this young girl is effectively ignored by everyone around her, as she possesses the ability to cloud people's minds to her presence, but she's also is unable to shut off this ability, so she lives in a world where nobody acknowledges her presence. We then look back in on Agent X, as he has a run-in with the crime boss who is looking to buy the land upon which his rundown amusement park sits, and when Agent X turns down the offer, he finds the man doesn't accept no for an answer. After he manages to remove himself from this rather heated confrontation, we follow Agent X on a job, where he's been hired by a jewelry shop owner to take out a gang of thieves who have repeated targeted his store. During the ensuing encounter with these crooks Agent X meets up with Mary Zero, and unlike everyone else he's able to see her, which gains him a new best friend.

Comments:
Following on the heels of the first couple of issues this issue does feel like a bit of a step backwards, as there are elements to this story that seem to be included in the story simply because they are humorous (e.g. Agent X chasing the baddies on a hot-dog vendor's cart). Now I realize it sounds odd to be making a fuss over a writer injecting humor into what's suppose to be a humor book, but the sign of a talented comedic writer is one that is able to work the comedy into the plot itself, and not have it driven solely by the comedy. Now the book is still heads above what we had been getting before her arrival, and the new direction since the relaunch is still holding my interest, as the mystery of how Deadpool in connected to this new Agent X is being nicely handled, and the new supporting player Outlaw is a fun addition to the book. Still this issue's plot involving a gang of stupid jewel thieves was pretty thin when it came to creating a sense of danger, and the resolution to this little problem is rather abrupt with Agent X scoring a victory simply because the jewel thieves failed to grasp the fairly simple idea that a party riding a hot dog cart can really only travel in one direction.

One interesting element that this book does introduce to the book is a young girl with the ability to make everyone ignore her, much like the Shadow, but her ability is on 24/7, so she's effectively invisible to everyone. We then have Agent X somehow immune to her ability, which automatically creates a reason for this young girl to latch herself onto Agent X, and I since this issue makes it clear that she has herself a similar warped sense of humor, she should make for a fun match. The idea that Deadpool is the only one that can see her should make her presence in this book fairly amusing, as I imagine others will wonder about his one-sided conversations. Her ability also makes her fairly useful in Agent X's line of work, and while I don't imagine he's going to welcome her presence on his missions in the early going, I'm sure he'll quickly come to realize that she can be fairly useful. Gail Simone has also introduced another mystery about Agent X, as in addition to his being able to nullify Taskmaster's ability to mimic any fighting style he sees, we also have him immune to this girl's ability, which in turn suggests Agent X has some unseen ability working in his favor.

The art of UDON Studios does some great work in the early pages of this issue, as when Agent X is kicking the Taskmaster's behind around the apartment, I was so impressed by the art's ability to convey the speed of the attacks that I momentarily forgot the idea that the punching bag was one of my favorite underused villains (though I'm willing to overlook this normally unforgivable transgression as the story has explained that Agent X is somehow able to remove the Taskmaster's greatest advantage from the table). The art also does some nice work on the issue's big action sequence, as Agent X's hot-dog cart surfing was a fun looking scene, and the final attack with the umbrella had a nice sense of impact. There's also the cute panel sequence where Agent X is bored to tears in the video surveillance room, and the recreation of the Dirty Harry scene with the hot dog made me smile, thanks in large part to the visual. However like most issues that they've delivered there are some little visual problems, as there's a scene where Outlaw looks to have been shot in the belly at least twice, and yet aside from the bullet holes in her shirt she looks uninjured.

Final Word:
An issue that's not quite as strong as the previous two, but it still kept me entertained, and there's some very funny moments to be found in these pages, from the delightfully clever use of Marvel's new recap page format, to Agent X's kid in a candy store behavior as he makes his way through his condemned amusement park. This issue also adds a new supporting player to the book, as we're introduced to Mary Zero, who should fit in nicely as Agent X's answer to Harvey (except she's not a six foot rabbit). On the other hand there are parts of this issue where the comedy doesn't really flow from the story itself, but rather it feels like it's in the book simply to be amusing, and this was my biggest problem with this title in the comedy wasteland that Deadpool suffered through between Christopher Priest's departure & Gail Simone's arrival. However, there's still enough here to keep me from pushing the panic button just yet, and I do like the done-in-one format that this book looks to have adopted.



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