Tony Black reviews The X-Files: Origins #1…
Before the FBI, before the X-Files, they were just two teenagers in search of the truth. On Martha’s Vineyard, a young Fox Mulder investigates something strange happening on the island, while in San Diego, 13-year-old Dana Scully looks into the shocking murder of her teacher. Two kids, two mysteries, one conspiracy that threatens the future of humanity.
SEE ALSO: Check out a preview of The X-Files: Origins #1 here
The early years of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have always been shrouded in mystery to an extent on The X-Files, illuminated only in certain episodes of the show if they were crucial to character or the series’ mythology, which makes Origins a unique mini-series, running adjacent to the main monthly series, by Matthew Dow Smith and Jody Houser. This asks the big question – what were Mulder & Scully like as children? Long before they ever met, or even Mulder found and revived the X-Files, this is the origin or origin stories – how did the FBI’s two greatest agents come to be who they are? Immediately from this first issue, a collection of individual chapters released across August which make up the introduction to the story, Houser and Dow Smith sow the main seeds of characterisation for our duo, even as 13 year old children, and it’s delightful to see.
Naturally because Fox and Dana are long away from meeting at this point, we get two adjacent stories set in two different years, indeed on opposite sides of the United States. Firstly, a 13 year old Mulder in 1974, just a year after the mysterious disappearance of his sister Samantha, journaling his thoughts as he tries to reconcile his grief with frustration at not knowing what has become of his sister, with vague imprints of the alien abduction scenario we saw in flashback in the episode ‘Little Green Men’. Soon dragged into misadventure by two of his school friends on Martha’s Vineyard, needing to escape from a stilted and awkward family home life with parents who won’t talk to him about the tragedy, Mulder stumbles into the world of conspiracy he would later take as his bread and butter.
Meanwhile, in San Diego 1977, a 13 year old Scully is lost and listless, having moved to a new airbase for her now Admiral father’s work; her older sister Melissa is flirting with boys, her brother Bill is frustrated at her music (which allows for a *great* nod to the S7 episode ‘Orison’), and Scully finds herself coming face to face with both her burgeoning religious faith and a fascination with procedural crime in a way she never expected. It’s just a really fine juxtaposition of both these characters, who even at such a young age are already showing those signs of becoming the adults we fell for on TV. Houser & Dow Smith show great knowledge of the show, it’s mythology and it’s characterisation which makes this a treat for X-Philies.
Even though it’s arguably targeted at a young adult comic book audience, X-Files: Origins can be enjoyed by an age of X-Files fan, and it’s just fantastic to see a project like this, which further mythologises Mulder & Scully as pop culture legends, come to fruition. The artwork is relatively basic from Chris Fenoglio but it doesn’t need to be showy, and is always well drawn; it fits the low-fi grunge co-writer Dow Smith has brought to the adult comics run while still retaining that sense of youthful verge, playfulness and retro-70’s aesthetic. While it will have to be careful not to contradict canon or chew on the show’s internal mythology too heavily, Origins deserves faith already in that it’ll be a fun, engaging, and well characterised mini-series exploring a whole new angle to the show. A fine start.