Given it's a very complex multilayer story (part 1 made no sense on its own, part 2 now start to form patterns of sense), I was left with no option but to re-read X'ed Out again – just to remember what it was about. Timelines cross – reality, imagination, hallucinations, present and past, all intersect and collide – and oh boy, now both X'ed Out and The Hive have become a thrilling read.
My problem – by the time part 3, called Sugar Skull, hits the shelves, I will have forgotten X'ed Out and The Hive entirely, and will have to re-read both again. It looks like a marketing scam, I would say, splitting a 300 page graphic novel into 3 thin installments to sell 3 books $20 a piece and not just one for $25. Oh well, I like it so much now that I couldn't care less. Finally, a great follow up to Burns's renowned Black Hole, well overdue.
New Charles Burns book is a bit raw and difficult to understand. Just like this old Memento movie, but all the sequences are mixed up and don't seem to relate much to each other. The answer is simple – X'ed Out is just the beginning, part 1 of a bigger serialized graphic novel, so it has far too little merit for now on standalone basis.
Well, we'll wait for more, as Burns' longer work (yes, what else, Black Hole, a dark and mesmerizing comic masterpiece) was a total page turner , while his shorter stuff like Skin Deep turned out to be much less sound.
Picture-wise, hard to argue with the whole of world wide web that Burns paid homage to Tintin – however, if the Belgian fellow were indeed involved, this one would've been called “Tintin in the land of drug fueled nightmares“. True so.