Read This Book- “Xino #1”

Recently a friend of mine suggested a manga that I might want to check out (yep, I read a lot of manga too). She gave me one warning though: the manga gets a little weird.

My response was that my favourite anime was Neon Genesis Evangelion. Now, if you’ve never seen this masterpiece, be warned, it get’s weird, really weird, but in the most beautiful and amazing way. It’s creepy, esoteric, and, at times, almost blisteringly incomprehensible.

In short, it’s perfect for me.

I like weird, always have, and like Hunter S. Thompson, it never get’s weird enough for me, especially when it comes to comics.

So when I read the blurb for this week’s book, Xino #001, I had a feeling it would be right up my alley.

Was I right? Well, let’s dive in an find out!

Here’s the blurb:

Because the future is getting weirder everyday, we give you XINO #001-the first of three OVERSIZED, 40-PAGE intra-ocular lozenges of subversive, surrealist science-fiction to cure your awful awareness of it all. Try not to worry-the insertion process will be guided by the megawatt brilliance of Oni’s brightest talents (past, present, and future) as they slowly tune your hopes, dreams, desires, paranoia, alienation, anxiety, and adrenaline to produce the desired results.

In our first exploratory outing: Rising stars Melissa Flores (The Dead Lucky, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) & Daniel Irizarri (Judge Dredd) surgically activate the hidden dimensions of the human senses; cult phenoms Christopher Condon (That Texas Blood) and Nick Cagnetti (Pink Lemonade) debut the world’s first intravenous video game system; Underground radicals Jordan Thomas (Weird Work) and Shaky Kane (Bulletproof Coffin) surveil the suburbs for signs of covert infiltration, and master cartoonist and foundational Oni creator Phil Hester (Gotham City: Year One, The Coffin) returns to the fold to leave his deepest mark yet!

So right off the bat, Xino #001 is not only a who’s who of great indie authors and artists, it’s also a collection of one and done single stories, so if you’re worried about starting something and having to commit to a whole series, then this is definitely for you.

Since there are 4 stories in this first issue I’m just going to give you my quick thoughts on each, then I’ll talk about this issue as a whole.

First up is a short piece from Melissa Flores and Daniel Irizarri, about a blind man who get’s synthetic eyes, but the results of the surgery allow him to see more than anyone expected, and more than he ever wanted. It’s a fun little story that, while a little predictable, is beautifully illustrated, and honestly could be developed out into a much more developed story in the future. There is a surprising amount of world building in this short work, and I’d be interested to see more of this reality.

The next story is by Jordan Thomas and Shaky Kane and I’m sorry to say it’s the weakest of the bunch. I know that part of the issue is that this, er ,issue is a collection of shorts, but this one feels the least developed of all of the stories, even with its satirical tone and great ‘90s-style indie art. The biggest problem is something that Matt Stone and Trey Parker from South Park fame once pointed out about story telling; a good story has event A happen, which causes B to happen, which causes C to happen, while a poor story has event A happen, then B happens, then C happens, and all these things happen because they want to tell a story but it lacks real development. I don’t want to give away the twist in this entry, but it’s pretty easy to see where it’s going after the first page or two.

Story three is a bit of apocalyptical action from Phil Hester, and is one of the strongest entries in this book. It has a BPRD style and vibe that I really dig, and introduces a compelling future world that, like the first story, I really would like to see more of. If Xino is a testing ground for future series, this one is a winner I’d like to see more of.

The last story is by one of my personal favourite authors, Christopher Condon of That Texas Blood fame, and illustrated by Nick Cagnetti. This is a bit of wild body horror that follows a gamer infected by a major corporation, and feels like a side story in a much larger narrative that I’d definitely like to see more of. Of all 4, it’s definitely the weirdest.

So there you go. Xino #1 is a fun collection of creepy and weird tales that has something for everyone. Not every story was my personal jam, but the ideas and stories are diverse enough that no matter what you are into, there is going to be something for you.

So call your LCS and ask them to pull you a copy!

That’s it for me. Until next time, stay safe.

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