Everyone has one book they’ll miss most, post-relaunch. For many of us, particularly at this blog, I think, it’s Gail Simone’s routinely excellent Secret Six. And that’s up there for me, no doubt – Secret Six is like nothing else on the shelves on its best weeks, and it had an awful lot of best weeks. But if I had to pick one book to make them carry over and only one, it would be John Rozum’s recent Xombi, a gorgeous, aggressively weird book that never found the audience it richly deserved. Xombi #4 continues the book’s trend of excellence, giving us the back story on the book’s first (and now likely only) villain, Roland Finch, and the treacherous new addition to this bizarre team of heroes, Annie Palmer.
It seems that Annie Palmer comes from the Ninth Stronghold, a floating skull fortress hovering above the clouds and one of 27 floating homes to powerful, near-immortal societies. Seduced at a young age by a dashing young Roland Finch, Annie feels responsible for the destruction of the Ninth Stronghold when Finch conquered it, and her life for the last 80 years has been dedicated to getting back there, to her home. But that was before Finch betrayed her yet again, last issue; now, all Annie wants is to protect the other Strongholds.
Writing it out like that doesn’t do justice to how vibrant a setting Rozum has created. Combining the outlandish weirdness of Morrison’s Doom Patrol with Frazer Irving’s moody, gorgeously colored work, Rozum has made a reliably fun ensemble book, an endlessly creative celebration of the weird sci-fi/fantasy comic book worlds we love so much. Though it’s too late to save the title, I cannot recommend the book enough to comic fans looking for something a little different.
– Cal Cleary