Tony Black reviews The X-Files #9…
“Came Back Haunted,” Part 4 of 4: Mulder finds himself deep in a haunted forest where he uncovers a conspiracy with strong ties to some old foes. Will Scully reach Mulder before he’s lost for good?
Coming to a conclusion after four issues, ‘Came Back Haunted’ sees Joe Harris put in place narrative ideas and characters beats for The X-Files ongoing series that will clearly play out across the run down the road. After several issues of being controlled by the strange, possibly alien consciousness, Mulder here begins to find a way out of his Hungarian predicament, even if answers remain maddeningly out of reach. For Scully, she finds a level of context and social commentary as her relationship with the mysterious Firas Ben-Brahim begins to deepen, and by the end you’ll be left wondering quite where this dynamic could go in the future, given how this man presents himself as an ally in what could well be the new menace on the horizon.
In truth, Harris’ entire story here has been one of mood and symbolism rather than action or traditional narrative momentum, further introducing the strange entity or consciousness we first saw in ‘Active Shooter’ and giving Mulder first-hand experience of its Lovecraftian, Ctulthu-sequel power. Scully has, to some extent, had the more interesting experience; falling down the rabbit hole with Firas’ philanthropy, which feels like a reaction Harris is having to the right wing politics and inequality seeping into the world as this issue is released.
It may not have been the clearest story, with a final issue here which ends quite abruptly with a climactic denouement which feels more like a second act break, but it’s among the most evocative and intriguing when it comes to the mythology within a mythology Harris is crafting for his revival run. Matthew Dow Smith alongside him continues to draw panels dripping with dark colour and Gothic, Eastern European dread, capturing the strange world Mulder has become immersed in.
A good, solid end to a story which may become clearer and hold deeper resonance down the line, ‘Came Back Haunted’ ends well and establishes plenty of pieces Joe Harris can pull out and use further down the line. You continue to feel a larger mystery is being constructed here by the writer which will pay off down the line dividends, and such storytelling is in the best traditions of The X-Files when the show is firing on all cylinders. Confident this consistently quality will continue into 2017.