Tony Black reviews The X-Files #1…
Thirteen years after the original series run, THE X-FILES has enjoyed a momentous return to television in a thrilling event series from creator/executive producer Chris Carter. Now, with the participation of Carter, IDW Publishing is proud to bring to comics the continuing adventures of iconic FBI Agents FOX MULDER and DANA SCULLY!
SEE ALSO: Check out a preview of The X-Files #1
Okay so I need to preface this with an admission. I love The X-Files. It’s my favourite thing in the world and has been since I was about 13 years old. I have seen the entire show countless times. I run a podcast devoted to the series, in which I’ve interviewed authors of some of the supporting material in book form. I am a paid up ‘X-Phile’ and know the series inside out. I can look upon Joe Harris’ new IDW series, written in continuity with this year’s mini-series event, with the eyes of a fan with a store of knowledge. Those eyes thankfully enjoyed this first issue, for the most part.
There’s been some contention actually amongst the X-Files fan community over this new run, as it’s largely believed Harris had to forsake his own season 11 to fall in line with continuity he didn’t have to worry about when he and series creator Chris Carter, back in 2013, created the season 10 comic series with every intention of it being ‘canon’, back in the days when everyone thought the show wasn’t going to get a third movie. No one expected a TV revival, which forced Carter to distance himself from the canonicity of Harris’s work, and to some degree pissed a little on the continuation series’ bonfire. It’s best to now view Season 10 the comic as an ‘alternate timeline’ after the second movie I Want to Believe, at least that’s what I’ve chosen to do. In all honesty I’ve only read the first few stories of Season 10 and look forward to reinvesting in that series down the line, especially as Season 11 is pulling down its curtain so Harris can plough full steam ahead into the in-continuity IDW run.
‘Active Shooter’, the first issue, does demonstrate how the writer is having to take a different approach here. Much like novel-tie in writers of a still active show, Harris can’t play too many major series-changing cards as he gleefully did almost immediately in the Season 10 comics. This run will be set between ‘My Struggle’ and ‘My Struggle II’ in series continuity so it has to abide by certain rules, telling stories that fit the X-Files remit while leaving major changes on Carter & his writers table for the almost-certain Season 11 on TV we’ll be getting around late 2017 or early 2018. These stories are meant to plug the gap until then and ‘Active Shooter’ tells a swift, action packed story – set in a shopping mall with hostage situations, weird experiments, shadowy surveillance, commentary on gun control and strange, glowing eyes all for good measure. Harris has a good beat on characterising Fox Mulder & Dana Scully by now, and does manage to explain the show’s concept briefly for anyone reading who may be new to the characters.
The artwork by Matthew Dow Smith isn’t the most attractive you may see, but it’s grainy and washed enough to convey the dark tone the series attempts to go for. The only problem with this issue is that the story very much is left open-ended without any real sense of what the paranormality may be, and no indication it’s ‘part 1 of 2’. While I’m aware comics work in terms of cliffhangers frequently, The X-Files is a different beast in terms of standalones and mythology stories, and I wonder if Harris’ brief is to tell continuing stories or this balance of narrative types. It’s not yet clear, and it was the only disappointment in an otherwise solid start for a comic I hope tells stories as interesting and mysterious as the TV show.
Tony Black is a freelance film/TV writer & podcaster & would love you to follow him on Twitter.
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