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Agent X #7

Posted: Monday, February 3, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Udon Studios
Letters: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Agent X heading into a meeting with a client who quickly reveals himself to be a highly odd character. As Agent X discovers that this man is aroused by every single person and/or object he lays his eyes on, we see our rather unsettled mercenary-for-hire discovers the job is the retrieval of a collection of prized celebrity underwear that was stolen from this man by a rival collector. After he accepts the job Agent X also discovers his employer is the adventurous type, and as such Alex finds himself saddled with a entirely useless partner whose condition gives him the attention span of a goldfish. We then look in on Agent X's partners, as we see Sandi discovers a clue that might reveal why Agent X took the name Alex Hayden. We then rejoin Agent X, as he & his partner have managed to track the underwear thief to a speeding train, but after he spots how alike the two underwear collectors are, Alex attempts to play matchmaker. However a forgotten explosive detonator blows everything sky high, and Agent X heads back home with a lesson that he should be more careful about who he takes on as a client. The issue ends with Agent X coming up with a business plan that doesn't go over all that well with the others.

Comments:
A pretty amusing standalone issue that leaves one rather regretful that its Gail Simone's final issue on the title. The mission that Agent X embarks on in this issue has itself several laugh aloud moments, as he finds himself in the employ of an omni-fetishist, which in return results in a hilarious exchange between Agent X & his employer, where Agent X tries to uncover something that doesn't arouse the man. The assignment itself is also rather cute, and the wall of super-hero undergarments also provided several funny visual gags. There's also a couple fun pokes at the new costume design that Frank Quitely came up with for the White Queen, as not only do we get a cute suggestion at how one keeps that costume from falling off, but we also see that the costume is quite as appealing when it's not being worn by the White Queen. In fact in this issue it borders on almost horrifying. In the end this issue is a nice throwaway adventure that manages to maintain the level of quality that one has come to expect from these pages, and the only thing that keeps me from leaving this title as a form of protest is the dire lack of truly funny comics coming out of Marvel & Evan Dorkin has shown that he can write some hilarious work.

In the hands of another writer I can easily see this material coming across as being far too desperate in its attempt to amusing the reader with a patently silly scenario. However, Gail Simone has shown the ability to recognize that the humor of a situation is always better when you let the reader discover the comedy of a situation, and as such while I wouldn't call the material understated, it is certainly more restrained than it could've been. The idea of Agent X's employer finding everything arousing is used to hilarious effect, and thanks to some rather amusing dialogue choices, the material ends up feeling a great deal more risqué than it actually is because the reader are allowed to add their own dirty minds to the equation. There's also some cute disposable gags such as the underwear that Agent X is wearing when he accepts the assignment, or the Village People hit squad. This issue also offer up a fairly interesting clue about Agent X's true identity, and while we'll probably never learn how Gail Simone planned on resolving this mystery, the clue in this issue would seem to lend credence to the idea that Agent X is Deadpool's body playing host to the merged mental energies of Deadpool & the Black Swan.

Udon Studios turns in another fine issue, and while there are times when the art comes across as a bit fuzzy & ill-defined, for the most part the work holds up quite nicely. The art certainly excels when it comes to its delivery of the action sequences, as this issue offers up a battle on top of a speeding train, and there's a nice sense of speed to this scene, and the impact shots are quite impressive. The art also continues to deliver the humor quite nicely, as the wall of celebrity undergarments is very entertaining, and the explosion in the final pages is also quite amusing, as the reader gets to play spot the super hero underwear. There's also the wonderfully disturbing reveal shot, as we get our first look at the rival of Agent X's employer. Now the art still has some real problems thanks to its seeming inability to deliver much in the way of emotional responses from its cast, as while some scenes are pretty effective, such as Agent X's disgusted look as he refuses the returned fruit-by-the-foot, the scene in the final pages where Outlaw is suppose to be fighting back her tears is completely unconvincing. Still, the art is getting better at making its female cast members look different from each other.

Final Word:
A solid done-in-one issue, as Gail Simone ends her run on this issue with a pretty funny, if somewhat overly silly adventure that has Agent X on the trail of an underwear thief. However, what could've been a very goofy issue is actually quite impressive in that it how well it managed to sell its jokes, as there's a couple laugh aloud moments in this issue, and I'd be hard pressed to point to any gag in this issue that didn't at least make me smile. In fact that only strike that this issue has against it is that it's Gail Simone's last, and as such we are dependent on other writers to resolve the dangling plot threads that were left hanging, with the most notable one being Agent X's past before he arrived in these pages. The book also manages to introduce a rather comical sidekick who I wouldn't mind seeing again as I was rather glad to see Shameful William managed to survive this issue, as I'd love a return visit by the character. Gail Simone is going to be missed, as she made this book a must read title again.



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