I’ve been waiting to write this for a while after reading issue #5!
The X-Files is no stranger to comic books. Back in its heyday, Topps made the comics and being an X-Files addict that I am, I read them all via the Official X-Files Magazine. Since Topps stopped, The X-Files has been on and off again in comic book form. The best one I remembered was the crossover between The X-Files and 30 Days of Night (seriously someone needs to turn that into a movie). Just when you thought The X-Files was done, early this year, in its 20th anniversary year, it was announced that X-Files was coming back in as season 10 with Chris Carter serving as executive producer and Joe Harris serving as writer.
After nine series, I guess it’s always difficult to pick up the mantle. How do you continue on where the mythology left off and introduce new concepts? How do you update the show to reflect the current changes in the world whilst remaining integral to its core themes? It’s also important to hear the voices from the characters, especially Mulder and Scully who are vital. Let me cut straight to the chase – if you haven’t read the new season 10 comics, then you are really missing out on a treat. The reason is because they are brilliant. Not only has Harris faithfully accomplishes all those difficult tasks but he has reminded everyone how great The X-Files still is.
The story picks up some time after the second film, I Want to Believe. Mulder and Scully are living under assumed names (which I’m sure eagle-eyed fans will spot the reference) in a new house in Virginia. Scully is still a medical doctor whilst Mulder is trying to write his life story whilst protecting the people he loves – obviously taking up Scully’s advice from the last movie. The X-Files is the last thing on their minds and yet their peaceful tranquillity is disturbed when an old friend, Skinner (now Deputy Director) pays them a visit. He warns them of a breach in the FBI network and they should be wary of the threat. It’s not long after that Mulder and Scully get dragged back into their old habits when the threat becomes personal; Scully is abducted by a mysterious man called Deacon, their friends, Doggett and Reyes have disappeared and their son, William has gone missing. This already feels like the plot for XF3!
A few panels in and we are quickly brought up to speed with the mythology. The FBI breach is reminiscent of our current technological generation of wikileaks and the phone hacking scandal. By introducing the new threat, the Acolytes, Harris has refreshed the series by accommodating a new adversary whilst maintaining the overall essence of the show. He has also thrown in a few surprises and familiar weapons that will delight the fans.
I think what impresses me about the first five issues is how Harris continues to build on the already established Mulder and Scully relationship. In issue #1, he takes the opportunity to explore the absence of their son William and how that has affected their relationship. Their lives have changed but their emotional past still burdens them. Just when they thought he was safe and out of harms way, the FBI breach brought out the emotions, especially for Scully. Their short dialogue obviously hints to a previous conversation between the two former agents and in classic Scully fashion, she doesn’t elaborate and distracts herself by going back to work, leaving Mulder alone with his thoughts. Those panels basically sum up who they are and what they have faced. As each issue steadily builds and Deacon and the Acolytes separates them in issue #2-4, despite the grim situation of this evolving conspiracy, Mulder and Scully are always searching for answers. Their search for the truth leads them down the path to an important reveal at the end of issue #5 which forces them to make an important decision. Overall, it’s a nice development from Harris – Mulder and Scully’s dialogue doesn’t sound out of place or make you second-guess at whether they would say those lines.
My favourite issue is #4. It cinematically opens up with Mulder riding on a quad bike trying to find Scully. It has brilliant artwork. Issue #4 also has a great psychological battle between Scully and Deacon. Without spoiling it, there are many twists and turns and it ends in dramatic fashion. Again Harris plays with the Mulder and Scully relationship and tests them physically and mentally and just when you thought it was over, Harris pulls the rug right from underneath your feet.
I guess the only downside is that it is only 22 pages for each issue. It would have been nice to see some scenes expanded, especially the scene with Mulder and a man who we all assumed was burnt to death. Another downside is issue #5 promises so much and then raises a whole new set of questions! It doesn’t feel like it was an actual conclusion, more like a hint at a possible bigger storyline. But saying that, it does leave you wanting more, just like an actual episode from the show.
I’m glad it seems like the season 10 comics will be around for a while because I’m intrigued at what Harris has next. I think the new comics are exciting, bringing The X-Files world to a whole new generation – maybe even to fans not into comics before. If you are a fan of the show, they are worth the read, and hopefully like me, you will be wishing these words…
“A new issue every month? The days need to go quicker!”