agent-x_largeSince the alphabet is the building block of our language, the Powet Alphabet is the building block of what makes us geeks.

Yes, we’re starting off this round of the Powet Alphabet with a little twist. This could have been an A article of an X article depending on how you look at it, but why would we want to deprive you all of the wonder and awesomeness that is Agent X? We wouldn’t, that’s why.

So if you’re a comic book geek, like I’m sure a majority of you are, you might know a little character known in the Marvel Comic universe as Deadpool. The self-styled “Merc with a Mouth” has been a fan favorite of comic books for some time, with his kooky-badass style and insane ramblings whist feeding people their innards. It’s hard not to like a character with that kind of bizarre appeal. Marvel comics saw the wonderful reception the character was receiving, and figured “Why not have more characters like Deadpool?” That’s where the tale of Agent X begins.

In actuality, Agent X was born during a slump in the Deadpool series, with the writers grasping at straws to try and keep the title books from cancellation. In an attempt to leave the book with a bang in order to set up a revitalization of the Deadpool franchise in the future, humor writer Gail Simone and artists UDON group were brought on to wrap up the Deadpool series, as well as to work with the new Agent X series, which was created in a backwards attempt to bank fortune on the X-Men associative name despite having nothing to do with that series.

300px-Agent_X_Vol_1_4Agent X is an amalgamation of three characters, in actuality. Nijo Minamiyori was a hitman for a German assassin called Black Swan – a mutant with the ability to transmit a telepathic virus into others which scrambles their neural pathways. Nijo blamed Deadpool for the death of his brother, and developed a lust for revenge, which was why he was working with Black Swan. After Black Swan gave Deadpool his telepathic virus, the 3 end up meeting together for one spectacular fist-fight. In the tussel, Nijo learns Swan was the one who killed his brother and not Deadpool, only to be stabbed by Swan moments later for his insubordination. As Nijo dies, a bomb Deadpool had brought goes off, and Black Swan desperately uses his telepathic abilities to try and save himself. This accidentally links Deadpool, Black Swan, and Nijo together and ends up mixing their traits amongst each other, just before the bomb goes off.

An amnesic man stumbles in the apartment of Deadpool’s secretary, Sandi. She believes he is Deadpool (without his mask on and with similar scaring), though he takes the name of “Alex Hayden” based off of music composers he likes. In actuality Hayden is the corpse of Nijo brought back to life 5 minutes after his death due to Black Swan transferring not only some of his personality traits and skills, but also Deadpool’s healing factor into Nijo accidentally. This goes widely unknown for many issues, as Alex takes on the moniker of Agent X and picks up the mercenary gig that Deadpool has left in his absence. Throw in characters Taskmaster and mutant Outlaw, and you’ve got the newly formed team of Agency X.
With Simone’s writing and UDON’s talented artists, Agent X received good reviews from critics and a favorable response from readers, particularly those who were avid fans of the Deadpool series. Characterization of Hayden and a strong supporting cast made the series a good fit. It seemed like Agent X was a sizable replacement for the Deadpool series. However, sales did not reflect the popularity of the title. Some believed this to be because of Marvel’s lack of support for the title, as was the same with the Cable “Soldier X” series. Simone reportedly clashed with Marvel’s editorial staff for their inability to give the title its proper due, which ended with Simone leaving the book after issue #7, which left massive cliffhangers within the story.

Marvel attempted to fill the roles of writer and artist for the book, as UDON group left along with Simone. Despite finding replacements for both, the book continued to suffer, to the point of cancellation. After a 12-issue run, the Agent X title was officially dropped, with Gail Simone coming back to write the final issue. From there, the character of Alex Hayden made only a few recurring appearances in the Deadpool series that followed. After a job gone bad, Hayden is captured by HYDRA and experimented upon. Outlaw and Sandi plead with Deadpool to recover Alex, only to find him having been genetically altered to have crippling arthritis to prevent escape. (and morbid obesity to cover up the arthritis) Agent X is then grounded, either permanently or temporary is anyone’s guess, but still operates Agency X with Sandi and (temporarily) Deadpool.

It’s unfortunate that the Agent X title was cancelled so pre-maturely, and even more so that the character has been reduced to a joke role and little else since. Rumors persist of the idea of reviving the series, but like so much in the Marvelverse and comics altogether, this is simple hearsay. Regardless, the character of Alex Hayden briefly gave us a look at what a Deadpool-esque character could be when done right. Creating new characters with completely different characterization than has already been done is a tough task for writers, and must be done carefully to avoid obvious clone-characters with little else going for them. In this case, Agent X was done and done right. Huge props go to Gail Simone for her work, and hopes and prayers that she one day is able to return to a revitalized title to continue her work on the chaotic Hayden.