IDW caps off a very good year for the X-Files comic franchise with a Christmas special. Is it good?
The X-Files X-Mas Special #1 (IDW Publishing)
The issue is split into two separate (and very different) stories.
The first one involves Mulder being trapped in a shopping mall during a bizarre quarantine. As if that weren’t bad enough, he also flashes back to a time in his life months before Samantha, his long lost little sister, was abducted… and before you ask, yes, it involves Santa Claus and grey aliens (ugh).
The other story shows the X-Files’ first agents, Ohio and Ellinson, investigating a case that involves a very familiar monster of mischief. It also explores the feelings both agents have about their respective pasts and each other against the backdrop of a country on edge over anything perceived to be a communist threat.
Is It Good?
This issue was truly a mixed bag. The first part is just about everything you could expect to hate about a ‘Christmas’ themed issue. Writer Joe Harris shoehorns the holiday into a plot that could generously be described as contrived, all for a halfway decent gag at the end involving the Cigarette Smoking Man. Add in the ridiculous retcon to one of most tragic parts of The X-Files mythology, and you have a story that I desperately hope is not ever considered to be cannon.
There was some great interaction between the characters at least, particularly at the X-Files crew Christmas party, but that still wasn’t enough to keep me from giving this half of the issue a solid ‘BAH HUMBUG!’
The other story, however, was absolutely superb. Not only was it a great use of a classic cyptid, but the exploration of Ohio and Ellinson’s relationship to each other (both working and possibly romantic) against the backdrop of Cold War era mistrust was very well handled by writer Karl Kesel.
The pencils by Matthew Smith and Matthew Southworth are both exceptional, which helps push this one onto the plus side of the critical scale… although perhaps not enough to justify the $8.00 price tag (!).