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Comicscape: The X-Files Season 10
Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate
By Joel Rickenbach
June 20, 2013
Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. This week: The Truth is Out There!
The X-Files: Season 10 #1 (by Chris Carter, Joe Harris and Michael Walsh) This book is shaping up to be a much bigger deal than I anticipated. There are so many comics for existing properties that are nice additions to their respective source material, but in the grand scheme of things feel little more than a slight diversion. In recent years some of that has changed- both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Smallville have found new life in the pages of comics, and have even been steered by their television creators, which gives the books an elevated appeal. X-Files is in the latter category, and that means show creator Chris Carter is in the mix, and the book gets the official "Season 10" tag. With film and television getting harder and harder to produce unless you come equipped with a sure-fire hit, creators are now turning to comics in all their open ended, budget be damned glory. Maybe a comic is the small step the X-Files needs to bring about its full resurrection in these modern times.
I was (am) a rabid X-Files fan. I was fortunate enough to catch the show early in its first season, and it sunk its hooks in me right away. Friday nights (and then Sundays) became my church, and I devoured every bit of X-Files lore- Books, Soundtracks, Trading card games... I even made "Mythology" tapes so friends could catch up on the show's core story. I hadn't been so attached to a show since Twin Peaks. And, yes, that means I stuck around to the end, even when the show was long past its expiration date. The thing is, as time has gone by, the faltering final seasons have slowly washed away, and the golden years of seasons 1-4 are what really come to mind when I think of the show. With that mindset it feels like an awful long time since the X-Files was king of the geek hill, yet when at its prime, it can stand toe to toe with the greats. Of course, this puts a little extra pressure on the new comic- we don't just want more X-Files, we want X-Files back, so it's a good thing for everyone involved that this book absolutely delivers.
The book opens with a bloodied woman running down an alley with a hooded figure in pursuit. We catch glimpses of her striking red hair and the crucifix around her neck, and there's no doubt in our minds the woman is none other than Dana Scully. However, as she woozily tries to call her voice messaging service, she identifies herself as a Dr. Blake. She fails, and the figures cloaked in black overwhelm her. We rewind to earlier that day, and we see Scully (still going by "Blake") displaying her excellent bedside manner to a frightened young girl named Emily. After drawing some blood, she takes the girl out to her mother, Mrs. Van De Kamp, in the waiting room, only to be surprised by the appearance of an old friend- Walter Skinner. We cut to Mulder entertaining the neighborhood kids with a little sleight of hand using their baseball. Once he gets home he finds Scully and Skinner waiting for him, and his patented snarkiness tells us he knows bad news is just a moment away. Apparently there was a breach in the FBI database, a very specific attack targeting a small amount of data, some of which seems to be from the long dormant X-Files. What this means exactly is uncertain, but the first thing everyone's mind goes to is the safety of Scully's baby, William. Scully gave William up for adoption long ago to protect his identity, but the scars on Mulder and Scully are clearly still there. How the rest of the issue links up with the opening scene I'll leave for you to discover, but needless to say- the game is once again afoot.
What makes this book so great, other than its mere existence, is that it nails the characters we know and love. Scully is the warm and protective woman of medicine, who has her own version of curiosity. She genuinely cares for her little patient, even down to making sure when she tells Emily to "drink more fluids" it's not interpreted as "Soda". She's pragmatic, but also our emotional core. Mulder is perfectly defined in his introduction- He takes the neighborhood kids' baseball and makes it disappear, all the while dispensing his snark, and leaving the kids scratching their heads. The real kicker is when he gets inside his house we realize he literally stole the kids' baseball. If that's not the Mulder we know and love then I don't know what is.
This book apparently takes place between the TV show's finale (The Truth), and the December 2012 colonization day that threatens our entire existence. The creators say there will be a mix of mythology as well as monsters of the week, just like the show. In true X-Files fashion there are already hints of the underlying story and everything means something. My mythology is a bit rusty, but it's very curious that the little girl Scully treats is named Emily- the name of the little girl created by Scully's Ova and some genetic tampering, who eventually died for the same reasons. Also, the name of the girl's "mother" is Van De Kamp, which is the name of the family that adopted Scully's biological child, William. Talk about that old familiar feeling... welcome back, my dear friend. Credit to Chris Carter, Joe Harris and Michael Walsh, they've got me excited all over again, and they've successfully made this first issue feel vital. Who knows, maybe we can ride this train back to television and beyond...