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Agent X #4

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Alvin Lee, Rob Ross, Omar Dogan, TheRealT!, Shane Law, Calvin Lo & Ken Siu-Chong

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Agent X having dinner with Mary Zero, as we see he's trying to find a way to let her know that he's not looking for a partner, even one who is invisible to everyone but him. However, the easily distracted Agent X has his attention diverted by an annoying fellow diner, and he gets himself kicked out of the restaurant after he tries to kill the man. We then see Agent X is contacted by the crime boss who's looking to buy his dilapidated amusement park, and refuse to take no for an answer. Upon learning that the latest plan involves burning the amusement park to the ground, we see Agent X hijacks a passing bus, and races across town with a bus load of terrified passengers, in a mad race to save his beloved deathtrap of an amusement park. Upon arriving however he discovers he's wandered into a trap, as instead of a raging inferno he finds a pair of snipers lying in wait. However, Agent X's healing factor keeps him alive, and after he drops a cash register on one of the attackers, he confronts the second atop his rollercoaster track. However, while he's able to take out this second gunman, Agent X has a bullet lodge itself in his trachea, and he collapses from a lack of oxygen.

Comments:
It does have to be difficult to come up with a cliffhanger ending that would endanger a character with a healing factor, as most anything you could do to them would be repaired by a healing factor. However, Gail Simone manages to come up with a pretty harrowing finish that does leave one wondering how a healing factor operates, as we've all seen the action scene where our healing factor endowed killer absorbs the hail of bullets, and they're back on their feet before the goons that fired those bullets can finish patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Based on the final pages of this issue I do have to wonder what happens to the bullets that remain inside, as I just assumed that the body isolated & expelled these foreign objects from the body, as if this isn't the case then Wolverine is a walking spent munition factory. However, I also remember a comic where the Hulk's supercharged healing factor healed around the hand he was using to hold his insides in, which would seem to support the idea that makes the final page of this issue so exciting, even though simple logic suggests Gail Simone isn't going to kill her lead character simply because she's found a way to do it.

The news of Gail Simone's departure as of issue number seven is rather disappointing, and it became outright horrific when the rumor came up that her replacement was going to be Ron Zimmerman. It'll be sad to see her go so soon after she set this book on its new path, and whatever the reason might've been, once again I'm left disliking the phrase creative differences, as I'm left with no one to rant against, as Gail Simone not only made this book readable again, but she also had the most vital quality any writer working on this book could have, and that was he ability to produce genuinely funny scenes. Now I realize that Marvel is a business and if the relaunch wasn't pulling in a legion of new fans as it was expected to, then the "how can we fix this" ideas would go into motion, but I can't say that I care much for the first step that was taken. As it stands I guess I'll just have to enjoy the issues we have left, and keep my fingers crossed that if this series continues beyond issue number seven, Gail Simone's replacement brings as much to the table as she did. This is where I would normally start suggesting replacements but truth be told I'm at a bit of a loss at the moment , except to say please don't let it be Ron Zimmerman.

First off I have to point out that the opening section of this issue is notable because Udon Studios proved that they can deliver a woman who actually looks different. The woman seated across from the "food is sex" guy actually has more differences beyond the different hairstyle that Udon normally employs on their cookie cutter female cast members. Now that I've gotten that little comment out of the way, I do have to say that Udon are proving themselves to be a very solid when it comes to this book's action scenes as we see Agent X steal a bus, and smash his way through the city is fine action movie style. There's also the ever classic gunfight on the rollercoaster tracks, and one does have to love the almost cringe worthy shot of Agent X's attack being struck by the rollercoaster. The art is also getting stronger when it comes to it's facial expressions, as one has to love the look on Agent X's face when he discovers what the "food is sex" guy's job is, and the art also does some lovely work conveying the desperation of Mary Zero on that final page as her calls for help go unanswered. The art also continues to deliver the visual humor quite well, with the scene where the woman makes her desire to get off the bus known being a particularly amusing gag.

Final Word:
The news of Gail Simone's departure makes my enjoyment of this issue a little bittersweet, as at the moment this book is at a level that it hasn't been at since Joe Kelly's run, and the gap in-between Joe Kelly's departure & Gail Simone's arrival served to prove to me that writing a truly funny humor-based title is more difficult than it looks. Now I guess I still have three more issues to enjoy, and barring cancellation I don't know this book will automatically return to the mediocrity that it was mired in before her arrival, as Marvel's hasn't announced Gail Simone's replacement. Plus, the simple fact is Gail Simone is making her final issues quite enjoyable, as there's some very amusing moments in this issue, starting with Agent X's scuffle with the annoying man in the restaurant. There's also the cross-town bus race, which also serves as a nice showcase of Udon Studios' ability to deliver an action sequence. The final page is also worth a mention, as it creates a pretty exciting cliffhanger to carry us into next month.



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