(IDW Publishing, 2013)
Review by Cory Thrall
STORY BY: Joe Harris w/ Chris Carter
WRITTEN BY: Joe Harris
ARTWORK BY: Michael Walsh
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERING BY: Shawn Lee
Comics based on films, television, and video games have really filled the market in the past decade or so, from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, many “Army of Darkness” spin-offs, and even a “Mass Effect” list of titles. There are more, but I think you get the point. It’s been a big deal for a while now to continue favorite stories and characters in comic form once their respective TV shows and the like are either cancelled, moved on, or are a popular gaming franchise. Most of these have fallen short of fan expectations, while others have been quite a hit. This new launch of an “X-Files” comic (after such attempts as the horrid title they had in the 90’s) is a pure example on how to make this idea work for not only the fevered fan but also the comic world at large.
Only two issues in I can already feel this is going to be a great series if it continues the level of quality shown so far. As a long-time “X-Files” super fan, I was excited to see the announcement of this title, though a bit cautiously. The aforementioned Topps comic was such a let down that I’m surprised it reached the issue number it had. I didn’t get too far into that title, but from what I read in the first chunk really sent me packing. From character models that made you question who you were looking at (and I mean with Mulder and Scully, as well), confused stories that couldn’t find a strong foothold in the then-growing lore, and the distinct feeling it was trying to do too much at once than it should – it was just all kinds of wrong. As I said – long-time fan, even watched the first episode as it aired and now have all nine seasons under my belt – and this earlier title made me a little angry. How could they take such a beloved show, one that basically changed the look and mood of television the moment the first episode hit the screen, and make it such an uncaring mess of a title?
The problem is, and maybe I smelled it then, is that you can make this work so well. So well, in fact, that this new series has me giddy and popping the old episodes up on Netflix. This new title feels like the show. The world it inhabits feels like the show. What sold me the most, though, is these characters not only look like their counterparts, but they act, speak, and think like them, as well.
Of course, this comic takes place not only after the nine seasons of the television show, but also the films (especially the 2nd), so some degree of past knowledge might be needed a bit, but I am firm in my belief that anyone can pick this book up and enjoy it. The pieces that tie into the show are easy to understand from that perspective, and anything not fully fleshed out is either there enough to get the gist, or will most likely be filled in later. There are still a few questions casual viewers of the show/films might have – Why are Mulder & Scully hiding from the FBI? Why are they living together in a relationship capacity? Baby? What baby? But, again, I feel these are easy concepts to grasp onto and, with the exception of a few minor story bits it passes enough to get you into it. Well, the whole baby thing might need some further explanation (though we do see some flashbacks to this part of the series in issue #2), and hopefully they will toss new fans a bone on that one. Or maybe Wiki would work, I don’t know. The point here is that the comic has the potential to bring in X-Files fans from the newbie to obsessive variety.
What really struck me with this title is how – much like the “Buffy” comics – they can take the idea of the show and expand upon it in ways that a TV budget would have made impossible. They also get to cover ground that just might not have played out so well on the screen. In this series, there is a mystical (or is it?) group of hooded and hidden creeps following Scully and otherwise hiding themselves amongst the shadows. Mulder is still in his makeshift version of the FBI basement built into a room at their home, rattling away at one extraordinary idea or another. Skinner returns (now “Deputy Director” Skinner), as does Robert Patrick’s character from the last seasons, Agent Doggett. In issue #2 the story begins to open wider as a Pipeline in Wyoming is set upon by Doggett, who has been sent by the FBI to investigate a threat made against the line. He encounters some shifty workers, and the scene ends in a total “X-Files” way, even giving us the classic logo where the opening credits would have been.
Mulder and Scully have initiated a search for Scully’s baby William, who was given up to adoption almost directly after she had him. It’s a big thing in the show and it seems it will be here, as well, so get that Wiki warmed up if this isn’t ringing any bells. We reestablish the ongoing trust issues between Mulder and Skinner, which is a glimpse at the emotional and dramatic depth this title has. When a single, wordless panel can tug at your fan-beating heart, you know you’re reading something good, and something true to everything the X-Files were. Scully wakes in an unknown place and is set upon by the hooded creeps instantly. She faces off with them and seems to be on the verge of learning some of the truth behind her predicament, when the scene cuts, much like the show would have.
As the main cover shows, this is also the return of Mulder’s favorite spooks and geeks – the Lone Gunmen. He goes to them, finds the trio in their usual places even with the new location, and finally asks them about what he came to them for. They expect one of the usual Mulder-isms, and are shocked when he asks them to track down Williams’ adoption records. Too tough for the trio? Possibly. Mulder begins to tie some of the mysterious threads together and, as we cut to Scully one last time, and then back to Mulder & Co., we get a final reveal. And it’s a damn good one. I’ll hint (and possibly outright blow it) by saying one word: Morley. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, eh?
While still just two issues in, this title has me sold 100%. This is the X-Files comic that should have been made in the first place, Topps’ version be damned to Hell. These are the characters, these are the situations and locales – this is the X-Files through and through. Now, I need to get back to Netflix. I’ve got a whole nine seasons to devour once again. For me, this issue – and the very title itself – is definitely a “BAG IT”. Go get this, you’ll love it.
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27