This 1967 fumetti adaptation was directed by Piero Vivarelli who also contributed Satanik to the filone a year later. Unfortunately whilst containing all the right ingredients, including a mysterious costumed anti-hero complete with attractive female sidekick; gadgets and gimmicks, like a gun that fires cigarette-style crampons; the odd bit of sadistic tortures with a blowtorch; memorable locations in London, Rome and Capri; despicable bad guys, and ineffectual to incompetent representatives of authority, it never really comes together to make for a completely satisfying whole.
So, Mister X...
The credits sequence, with comic book panels and an energetic jazz / lounge score from Manuel Parada, certainly get thing off to a good enough start.
The promise of sex, danger and adventure
We're then introduced to respectable businessman and secret gangster Lamarr and his erstwhile courier, Veronica, who has gradually realised his true occupation. Rather than being horrified, she wants into the operation – as Mrs Lamarr no less – and agrees to courier a consignment of heroin from Rome, where she is murdered by other members of Lamarr's outfit.
Besides thereby demonstrating his utter ruthlessness, Lamarr makes his first mistake, as he attempts to frame the mysterious Mister X for the crime.
Though Interpol take the bait as intended, it is doubtful whether Inspector Roux and his men are adequate to the challenge of capturing X who has, after all, clearly evaded them many times in the past. Moreover, X is aroused to seek out and punish those responsible for implicating him in “a beastly vulgar crime”; as is often the case in this kind of film, it is not just about doing something but also doing it with panache.
And, sure enough, X soon finds that Lamarr and his allies are planning to take advantage of the situation by putting Operation Black Dragon into motion, flooding the world with heroin...
For me the biggest weakness Mister X has is X himself. Though Pier-Paolo Capponi, credited here as Norman Warren, is a decent enough actor he just feels miscast in the role of the costumed master of disguise, his athletic and other shortcomings particularly apparent when we imagine what Gianfranco Cianfriglia, Glenn Saxson or John Philip Law might have done with the role.
Gaia Germani is a lot better suited to the role of X's partner in work and pleasure,Timi – indeed, heretical though it may be, I actually preferred the character to Diabolik's Eva Kant – whilst Helga Line is in fine feline form as another member of the syndicate, the femme fatale Gloria, amongst whom Umberto Raho is also enjoyable as a Scottish accented godfather type, Mac.
A familiar location in Rome
On the downside, Donald Murray / Vivarelli doesn't impart much of a comic book tone to the proceedings, using much the same approach to his set-ups, as one suspects he would apply to any other film in contrast to both the opening credits and Diabolik. It must also be acknowledged, however, that the panned and scanned somewhat fuzzy VHS sourced version under review hardly represents the ideal showcase for any director's talents.
[Thanks to Cosmobells Blog for the film]