After a great “monster-of-the-week” story involving The Flukeman, Joe Harris gets back to the main X-Files mythology along with the return of a long deceased character. Is it good?
X-Files: Season 10 #8 (IDW Publishing)
The story flashes back and forth from the late 1980’s to the present day.
In 1987, Mr. X (who longtime fans of the series will know as Mulder’s former inside contact) visits the site of a horrific school shooting. I’m not a prude by any means, but the sight of children being shot and the resulting bloody aftermath was a bit jarring.
Mr. X, on the other hand, seems more troubled than horrified by the scene. Not only had the children responsible for the carnage been driven crazy by some type of biological agent, but both were still alive and claiming that they were not in control of their own actions. But before X has to make any terrible decision to tie up loose ends, the “problem” gruesomely takes care of itself.
Back in Washington D.C., X meets with The Cigarette Smoking Man and Deep Throat (it’s like a “Great Characters We Miss” reunion!) about the operation. Right off the bat, our plot runs into some problems, particularly with the “black ops” portion of it.
Even though this is the 80’s, I highly doubt that a school shooting which eliminated virtually the entire student body could simply be covered up. Add in the fact that the school was apparently “razed,” and you wouldn’t have even needed the internet to help develop all types of conspiracy theories about what happened.
“…and make sure those busy bodies on the USENET newsgroups don’t get wind of this.”
Meanwhile, X is mad about something, but it’s not over the fact that he was seemingly complicit in killing a bunch of kids. He goes to the Washington Post, but is stopped from spilling his guts by Deep Throat, who engages with him in a cryptic discussion about how stupid it was to blow open that whole ‘Watergate’ thing (you see what they did there, history buffs?).
This confrontation is definitely one of the issue’s high points. Despite the story’s believability problems, it is a lot of fun to watch these great characters from the show finally get to interact with each other.
Back in the present, Scully is having trouble motivating Mulder to get psyched about their FBI re-entry training. Before she can bore him to death, however, Mulder receives a strange phone call from someone who says they have something for him…at the Virginia apartment that Mulder used to call home.
When he and Scully arrive there, they discover that the family who currently occupies it has no idea what he’s talking about (which is a feeling that Mulder should be used to by this point). They do, however, tell them that a very bizarre break in occurred at their home night before. Nothing was taken, but something was left behind.
That “something” turns out to be a vial of an unknown substance, which the family had not yet called and told the police about (because that’s not potentially dangerous or scary enough to report right away, I guess). Fortunately for the story’s plot, the family is more than happy to hand vial over to the random FBI agents who randomly showed up at their home.
Mulder and Scully also find a taped ‘X’ on the apartment’s window, which years ago was the same thing that Mulder used when he wanted information from Mr. X (Or my theory: It was an unrevealed secret booty call symbol).
Later that night, Mulder gets a call on his phone that consists of a Morse code ‘X’ and begins tracing it. Meanwhile back at the lab, Scully analyzes the contents of the vial and discovers that it is a very “pure” liquid…one that X-Files fans will be very familiar with.
Mulder’s trace of the Morse code call ends with him meeting a person from his past…but not at all in the way that you would expect.
Is It Good?
- What could have been a lame character resurrection story ends with a very intriguing possibility for the mythology based story arc
- We get a chance to see some terrific character interaction that had previously only been implied on the show
- Art by Michael Walsh is very good
- Story’s brutal opening is followed up with a gaping plot hole
- Despite the issue’s fantastic ending, a few too many convenient plot devices were used to get there
Right up until the end of this one, I was already prepared to give up on the story. The suspension of disbelief required for what happened in the issue’s opening is too much even for the X-Files.
I also was sure that we were headed towards the contrived and predictable resurrection of another fan favorite character from the show. What we got instead, however, was an incredibly interesting and terrifying revelation.
I still don’t think that Walsh’s pencils for this series are a good fit, but his art is good. The dialogue between Mulder and Scully is great and feels just like it should (as it has for most of the series). The story, on the other hand, is a very mixed bag. But despite some very serious flaws in the beginning, it looks like we might have a mythology arc that could end up being a lot of fun.