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Agent X #5

Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Udon with Alvin Lee, Rob Ross, Eric Vedder, TheRealT!, Shane Law & Calvin Lo

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Mary Zero struggling to move Agent X's body, as his blocked airway is killing him. We then see that Agent X has a stroke of luck as Sandi had set up a meeting with Arcade, and after the villain gets over the fact that a priceless merry-go-round was set on fire, he sets about saving Agent X's life. We then look in on the Taskmaster as in a bid to get Agent X killed he pays a visit to the Four Winds criminal organization, and lets it be known that Agent X is Deadpool. However, given the declaration of vengeance upon Deadpool includes the death of anyone who helped Deadpool escape the wrath of the Four Winds, we see Taskmaster becomes a target, as does Sandi. We then look in on Sandi as she narrowly escapes an assassination attempt, and when she is cornered, Agent X comes to her rescue. We then see Agent X leaves a message for the Four Winds, as he agrees to meet them at his amusement park later that night. We then see that Agent X isn't going to be fighting this battle alone, as Outlaw, Taskmaster & Sandi have decided to stand by his side. However, as the issue ends we see the Four Winds are quite serious about wanting Agent X dead, as the foursome find themselves up against an army of hired killers.

Comments:
This issue devotes itself to getting its cast together for the big showdown, as we see with the exception of Mary Zero, this book's entire cast have been targeted by the Four Winds criminal empire, and since Agent X isn't big on running for his life, he's decided to make his stand at the amusement park that brought him to the Four Wind's attention. The final page also acted as a nice surprise, as instead of the army of generic foot soldiers that I expected to storm the place, the Four Winds have decide to call upon an army of third rate super-villains, and as a result I suspect that Marvel's stable of bottom feeding villains is going to be dealt its most serious blow since Scourge of the Underworld paid his visit to the Bar with No Name. Now sheer numbers will make this big showdown interesting, and third rate super-villains are a natural source of comedic material, so I fully expect Gail Simone to have little trouble making the next issue into a side splitting display of ineptitude, and Agent X will have plenty of opportunity to make his amusing observations about the army of lame ducks that he's fighting. It also doesn't hurt matters that Taskmaster looks like he'll be an active part of this fight.

This issue also offers up a couple welcome surprises, and the first one left me a bit depressed, as Gail Simone offers up the best single use of the character Arcade that I've ever come across, and the chances of the character making a return to these pages before her departure don't look promising. Still, I enjoyed what we did get, from his horrified reaction upon spotting the flaming merry-go-round, to the almost playful manner in which he deals with Agent X's medical condition. What's this I hear about an Arcade miniseries written by Gail Simone? Heck, I'll even take a one-shot. As for the other surprise that this issue offers up, I have to say that I didn't think there was a way you could make Agent X a funnier character, but the little notes that he uses to communicate while his voice box is busy repairing itself are hilarious, with the little riddle that he slides under the bathroom door being the highlight. One also has to admire the choice of weapons that Agent X makes use of as he rescues Sandi from the trio of killers who descended upon her apartment. The way that he leaves his response is also a delightfully disgusting, if entirely suggestive bit of visual comedy.

The problems that I had with the work of Udon Studios when they first took over this book are still present, as the female characters would be impossible to tell apart if not for their differing hairstyles, and the blur effect that they use to convey a sense of speed is put to use far too often. There's also a limited range of facial expressions that they seem to be able to draw upon, though this issue does a pretty solid job in the opening pages conveying Mary Zero's desperation. However, in spite of these problems the elements that I do enjoy about their work are steadily overshadowing my problems, as the art does a wonderful job of delivering the visual elements of the comedy. From the page where Agent X offers up the pen, to the panel where Agent X throws everything but the bathroom sink at the second killer in Sandi's apartment, the art does a great job of capturing the humor in these scenes. The art also does some nice work developing a growing sense of danger in the final pages, as we see the agents of the Four Winds begin to make their arrival. I also have to make mention of the cover to this issue, as while it has nothing to do with the story inside, it's a cute cover image, and one has to love the idea of a $4.99 paperclip.

Final Word:
A pretty entertaining issue that acts to leave me even more disenchanted by the idea that Gail Simone is going to be leave the book in a couple months, as she has remade this book into one of more amusing titles on the stands. What's more she has also brought an engaging story to the table, as the situation with Agent X does more than simply provide a loose framework for the jokes to hang from, as the characters have well defined personalities, and the threats nicely hold my attention. This issue also offers up a wonderful use of the character Arcade, as while his arrival is a bit fortuitous, Gail Simone does wonders with the character, and I'd love to see her get another crack at Arcade. The issue also brings the Taskmaster back into the book, and it sets up a pretty impressive cliffhanger scenario, as we see this book's cast is about to go to war with an entire army of third-rate baddies. The running gag of the mute Agent X's notes also made for a fun twist on the character's regular nonstop banter.



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