After last month’s disappointing paint-by-numbers story, this month’s issue treats us to a tale about everyone’s favorite villainous spokesman for the tobacco industry, the Cigarette Smoking Man. Is it good?
The X-Files Season 10 #10 (IDW Publishing)
Fair warning: This plot wades pretty deeply into the X-Files mythology pool.
The issue begins with CSM/C.G.B Spender reminiscing about the disastrous ‘Bay of Pigs’ engagement in Cuba overlaid with a speech by President Kennedy about only the strongest and smartest surviving those dangerous times. Meanwhile, CSM and Fox’s father, William, discuss plans to one day work for the “real” government that actually runs the country.
The story then flashes forward to 1970, where CSM’s wife, Cassandra Spencer, reminds us of how crazy she was on the show by trying to stab herself…along with her unborn son, Jeffrey (told you things gets a bit dense).
“The baby keeps kicking in the direction of the lighthouse…”
The story flashes forward again to 1952, where we’re treated to a badass (and beautifully drawn) sequence of William Mulder and CSM taking out a rogue alien of the long-clawed variety at a secret research facility.
Things then move ahead to 1965, where Fox’s mother, Teena Mulder, looks like an absolute 60’s pinup dream girl…which is probably why she and CSM were having an affair behind William Mulder’s back. Teena officially ends it with CSM while a young and inquisitive Fox gets called ‘Spooky’ for the first time by the man who actually fathered him. There’s also a nice water-skiing reference for those of you who really know your X-Files lore (or like a good sex joke).
The issue concludes with a random look in on the groovy, war torn 1970s. What follows that, however, is a much more chilling look at the present, where the theme of William Mulder and CSM constantly taking blood tests over the years shows how and why everyone’s favorite villain is back…and why he might deserve a little more of our sympathy this time around.
Is It Good?
That was actually a pretty hard question for me to answer at first. Even as pretty big X-Phile myself, I had a hard time keeping up with some aspects of the plot. More than once I had to consult articles on the X-Files Wiki to recall things or make sure that I had my continuity straight.
Also, we have to assume that much like the ‘Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man‘ episode of the television show, our narrator is fairly unreliable. That means there’s a good chance that at least a portion of what we saw was exaggerated or completely untrue.
All this adds up to what had to be a head scratcher of an issue for anyone who isn’t terribly familiar with the television show or has simply not thought much about it in the twenty years since it was last on the air.
As far as the art goes, however, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I normally write off people who go by one name (or have names with numbers in them) as complete douche bags. But if interior artist Menton3 is a douchebag, then he’s a douchebag who is also a hell of talent. About the only knock against his work is the fact that the varied aesthetics don’t do much to help keep things clear for a plot that is already convoluted enough as it is. The pictures are more than beautiful enough, however, to forgive this.
“Eat your heart out, pretty French girls.”
At the end of the day, the X-Files Fanatic in me overrode the more critical side and really enjoyed this issue, ESPECIALLY after reading it a second time. This one might have you scrambling to Netflix or the internet to look up some classic episodes of the television series, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Add in some pretty fantastic art work3 (see what I did there?), and we have a nice little stand alone gem for the series.
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