Let’s kick this review off by answering the most important question; does reading this comic book feel like watching a television episode of the X-Files? Yes. If you want information about why I’m qualified to opine on this topic, then you can start by asking my parents why they used Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to coerce an 8 year old into watching the series with them.
X-Files Season 10, Issue #5, concludes with a Scully voice-over reading her report to the FBI. Something about the writing through this section was spot-on. In my head, I could easily hear the lines delivered in Gillian Anderson’s soothing voice. My imagination added the keyboard clicking of her word processor, and interspersed memories of Scully wearing glasses and her practical-frumpy-yet-adorable pajamas while she finalized her notes on the case. Writer Joe Harris has completely nailed Scully’s voice through the conclusion of this issue.
As Scully finishes typing her report, the ‘screen’ fades to a shot of the night sky and then cuts to… someone opening a pack of cigarettes. YES! This is how an episode of the X-Files ends, an ominous meeting with the Cigarette Smoking Man. Oh, is that a spoiler? Not remotely, this is practically story-telling law for the X-Files.
Issue #5 addresses the conclusion of the first story arc, essentially covering the portion of the television episode which would have aired after the last commercial break. At this point, the Acolytes have been tormenting those previously associated with the X-Files, including Skinner, Doggett, and Reyes. Mulder has tracked the kidnapped Scully to Yellowstone National Park. Information about their son, William, is dangled like a carrot, and the agents follow into an obvious trap. Something, something, and then supernatural things happen without multiple witnesses to corroborate.
Now, I admit that I have tuned into this episode late, so maybe my excitement was my own fault. Up to this point, the Acolytes seemed to be a weird cult-like group, possibly with conspiratorial connections to elements of the X-Files mythology, possibly with supernatural mind control powers and glowing eyes; you know, typical X-Files fare. Suddenly, the agents are armed with small surgical awls and my brain is rattled awake with recognition. After a brief action sequence, one Acolyte member goes down in a puddle of toxic green blood and I do that little hand-wavy thing that sometimes happens when I’m excited. I’m going to have to go back and buy the previous issues.
Harris has proven that he understands the critical elements of a typical X-Files story. He has created a creature-of-the-week episode which hints at advancing the mythology. This isolated issue would be accessible to casual fans of the television series, and I imagine that starting from the beginning of the arc would be enjoyable for the uninitiated. Now that Harris has proven that he understands the fundamentals, I look forward to some respectful creativity. Comic books don’t have to be the storyboards from a television episode; hopefully Harris is able to take advantage of the medium.
I would like to give artist Michael Walsh the second best compliment I can imagine. When I scanned through the issue, I wasn’t a fan of the art. By the time I got to the bottom of the third page, the art completely disappeared from my perception and melded seamlessly with the story. Walsh has chosen to apply a less detailed style which conveys movement well and helps readers decode and interpret panels effortlessly. I’m not going to frame anything from this issue, but that’s not what I’m looking for in an X-Files comic book anyways.