Tony Black reviews The X-Files #8…
“Came Back Haunted,” Part 3 of 4: In search of Mulder, Scully travels to Europe where each uncovers unpleasant secrets. And what connection does Firas Ben-Brahim have to both?
The penultimate issue of ‘Came Back Haunted’, Joe Harris’ first four-part story for The X-Files revival tie-in comic series, manages to balance that tricky combination of narrative forward momentum with a certain level of answers to the mysteries he’s been establishing over the tale so far. Mulder had last been possessed by a strange, possibly alien force and headed off to Hungary where he was brought into a mysterious work camp, while Scully continued to circle around the orbit of the charming, enigmatic philanthropist Firas Ben-Brahim, seemingly the key to a mystery which now not only more clearly connects to ‘Active Shooter’, the first story in the revival comics, but also may directly link into the classic series mytharc in an unexpected way. Matthew Dow Smith even manages to sneak in, via his panels, a very clear wink to another popular show too.
We don’t get specific answers here, as Harris by now is very good at keeping his mysteries going as long as possible and, indeed, often keeping the paranormality quite nebulous, but Mulder’s experience in many respects is similar to when he was infected with the alien virus in Season 4’s ‘Tunguska/Terma’; here he’s at the mercy of the creepy glowing force possessing him and many other men, talking of ‘holes in the sky’ in a very Lovecraftian fashion. That phrase connects back to ‘Active Shooter’ and Mulder’s ultimate discoveries may lead back much further, to early Season 3 of the show – it’ll be fun to see where Harris goes with this.
On the flip side, Harris & Dow Smith have fun with Scully on a private jet trying not to be Hannibal‘s Bedelia du Maurier, given how Dow Smith draws Ben-Brahim to look *exactly* like Mads Mikklesen in that series – you can tell they had fun ‘stunt casting’ Mikklesen as this enigmatic character who adds some extra clarity to Scully’s search for Mulder, though she maintains a professional distance despite the man’s charm. The two narratives connect well while being distinct enough to stand apart, with the gloomy shade of Mulder’s unnerving experience off-set by the bright gloss of Ben-Brahim’s wealth – he’s another of those committed, powerful men Scully finds appealing, so one wonders if he’ll become a recurring player in Harris’ saga.
Overall, one of the stronger issues in a four-parter which has taken its time in crafting an intriguing, pervasive story in series lore. ‘Came Back Haunted’ here balances well the international travelogue & potential mytharc mystery of Mulder’s experience with the political wrangling Scully has to face to find him, in the best traditions of the show, while still keeping the narrative moving. Throw in a less than oblique nod to a show that is very inspired by The X-Files, and you have a great build up to what will hopefully be an exciting finish to this multi-part story.