Mr. X's cache was his ambiguity, his mystique, his aura of menace; he was simply a mask that any member of the audience could put on. He was the model anti-hero: a character out to save the world not out of any heroic motives, but out of a manicial sense of guilt that compelled him to repari the disastrous results of his own well-intentioned but reckless machinations.
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In 1983, designer Motter invented a visually striking, enigmatic figure with a bald head, dark glasses, and black trenchcoat. Fleshing out the concept, he turned the character into Mister X, a brilliant architect responsible for Radiant City. Inspired by Le Corbusier's utopian vertical metropolis, the project boasted "psychetecture" designed to positively alter its residents' mental states. But the developer cut corners, and the city instead has a deleterious, dehumanizing effect. After suffering a breakdown caused by the drug he takes to avoid sleep, Mister X returns to try to reverse the deterioration. More fun than its ponderous premise sounds, the tale is enlivened by gangsters, glamour gals, and romantic intrigue. Rather than writing and drawing it himself, Motter enlisted alternative and mainstream comics talents, including Love and Rockets' Hernandez brothers, Sandman-cover-artist Dave McKean (this was his first published comics work), and a pre-Palookaville Seth, who all followed Motter's general story line and visual approach. The rotating hands hinder continuity some, but the grand design, equal parts Metropolis and film noir, carries the day. Gordon Flagg
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