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Daniel X Vol. #03 Manga Review

5 min read

Just when you thought the plot problems couldn’t get any worse, here comes time travel!

Creative Staff
Story: James Patterson & Adam Sadler
Art/Adaptation: SeungHui Kye

What They Say
Using his incredible abilities, Daniel X continues to track down intergalactic criminals bringing their alien brand of evil to Earth! The next target on the List is Phosphorius Beta, an explosive demon of fire with a legion of flame-weaving henchmen. Even though his own powers have grown since taking down Number 5, the only chance Daniel has of beating this ancient demon is to go back in time to the Dark Ages and destroy Beta before his blistering reign has a chance to even begin. But can Daniel X take the heat? Or will the alien hunter finally get burned?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Ah yes, the adventures of Gary Stu… er, I mean Daniel X continue in this third volume of the adaptation of the Daniel X book series. This one appears to be a direct adaptation of the third novel, Demons & Druids. I can’t speak to the level of accuracy the adaptation has in regard to it’s source material, but I’m going to guess it’s mostly spot on.

The beginning of this volume is an improvement over the last two, mostly in the pacing and the toning down of the outrageous superpowers and stupid slang which peppered previous volumes. Daniel is in London tracking down an alien entity that is number 3 on the hit list, a being of pure sentient fire. As Daniel and his imaginary friends lay low they attempt to track down the threat without being found out. This leads to an unexpected run with a vampire, who claims he’s impervious to the fire alien’s powers. In what fictional universe does that make any sense? In the end it doesn’t matter, it’s just another silly fight to delay the protagonist from his quest.

In between skirmishes with the fire alien’s minions, a pack of brainwashed and fire-infused citizens with strong accents, Daniel finds himself undergoing training from his deceased father. It’s completely unclear as to exactly where this information Daniel is learning comes from. For all we know it might be instinct encoded into his alien DNA, but the story in so unconcerned with explaining how it’s universe works I’m sure we’ll never find out.

Another thing we never find out is the motivation of the alien entity that Daniel is tracking down. It’s supposedly been on earth for centuries and yet appears to have done amazingly little damage. At the beginning of the story they describe it as a being of pure instinct, which would have made the hunt nothing more than a pest extermination. When we finally face the threat it turns out to be another anthropomorphized alien being who seems to simply hate humans for no reason, and it’s a huge letdown as well as being internally inconsistent.

The real problem with this story lies in the new power Daniel discovers he has, time travel. Time travel is notoriously hard concept to do well, because it almost always results in some sort of paradox. The modern prevailing scientific theory on time travel currently states that the universe will actively attempt to prevent time travel to the past to preserve itself. Almost unrestricted time travel, the sort displayed in this story, destroys any sense of tension that the author could have built up. Are all of Daniel’s friends about to die? Simply rewind time and poof, everything is all right! What’s to stop Daniel from jumping through time and saving his parents? Probably the fact that it would undo the narrative up till this point and create a paradox, but there is no other reason it couldn’t happen.

All of the previous complaints could have been forgiven as lazy writing, and the story was forgivable mindless action until the final act of the story, at which point the book totally lost the plot. Daniel ends up escaping a trap by zapping himself into the past, first to the day his parents died, which is totally understandable if ultimately useless. The second destination is England circa 600 AD, where he runs into Arthur and Merlin who speak perfect modern English. Oh, and Merlin is a kid alien hunter just like Daniel.

This escape into a Society for Creative Anachronism gathering leads to a confrontation with a the enemy, who can also time jump and just happens to take the form of a dragon which needs slaying! One Stonehenge later and the whole conflict suddenly draws to a close. Broken logic, fake history, and bad pacing collide to result in a confusing deus ex machina conclusion. I’m not even going to get started on Daniel’s imaginary friends starting to separate into real people when he still can’t even create mechanical objects well, or his budding relationship with Dana. Is making out with your imaginary dead friend considered masturbation or necrophilia? Never mind, I don’t want to know.

Three volumes in, and three sets of co-author’s later, I’ve come to the conclusion that the narcissistic vibe and nonsensical plot problems of this series stem from Patterson. I guess it’s far too late wishing for any sort of intelligence on that front. I’ve tried to put myself into a twelve year old mindset while reading this series, but at age twelve I was reading far greater works of fantasy and science fiction and would have rolled my eyes at this.

As usual, the high point of the book is the art. The paneling and action are well done, and all of the characters look nice. The only real complaint I have is that the scary aliens are more ridiculous looking than fearsome. I appreciate artist SeungHui Kye sneaking in a cameo by Sherlock and Watson, very cute.

In Summary
Daniel X continues to be an overindulgent power fantasy for twelve year old boys, who will probably eat it up. Everyone else is better off avoiding it unless you enjoy unintentional absurdist history and a blatant disregard for logic and dramatic tension. The only thing keeping me from grading this series lower than I do is the art, which is pleasant to look at, easy to follow, and far more competent than the story deserves. I hope SeungHui Kye keeps working with Yen Press after this series is over, and gets a better book to adapt.

Content Grade: C –
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B +

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 29th, 2012
MSRP: $12.99

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