When he was alive Ray Walker preyed on the living. The Spectre put an end to him . . . or so he thought. But soon serial killer Walker is back and using his more-than-usual phantom strength to torment ghosts, vampires and other creatures of the night. Supernatural investigator Julian Parker asks his friend David Kim, aka Xombi, to stop Walker’s reign of terror. But can they get massively powerful Spectre to help when punishing the dead isn’t in his purview.
That’s the premise for this teaming of a DC character with one of the recent Milestone transplants. I’ve never read a comic with Xombi in it so was looking forward to finding out about him. All I learned was that nanobots saved his life and now he’s immortal, as they repair him when necessary. And he likes or needs pancakes. John Rozum’s script – which makes great use of the unfashionable omniscient narrator – alludes to there being a distinct downside to this ability to self-repair, but what it is, we’re not told. How being full of nanobots makes Kim a supernatural being, we’re not told. Apparently there are other xombis, but who they are and what they do, we’re not told. I don’t even know what this Xombi can do, other than heal. ‘Strange and unexpected side-effects’ is all we get.
And that’s the main flaw with an entertaining read. The Spectre is pretty self-explanatory – godlike being who punishes evildoers. We’re told this, and we see this. But Xombi is an enigma. An intriguing one, yes, but sometimes I’d rather have a little bit of intrigue and a huge dollop of enlightenment. Julian Parker is as important to this story as Xombi and the Spectre but we’re told little about him … I’m thinking he’s a Xombi supporting character, but it’s assumed I know.
An extra pleasure here is spotting film references. I noted three in the first six pages, but none after that. I bet there were more.
Scott Hampton’s artwork is perfect here, having an eerie lushness all its own. Everyone, living or dead, has an ethereal look that suits the story. Daniel Vozzo’s colours are subtle and unexpected, while Rob Leigh chooses some fine fonts to convey atmosphere.
The issue’s topped off by a DC mystery books style cover by veteran Mike Kaluta, less finely rendered than his earlier work, but welcome nonetheless. It even comes with a cheesy word balloon.
If this issue was intended to get me wanting to see more of Xombi it’s done it’s job. Just so long as we can have this creative team back, and they bring just a tad more exposition with them.