Tony Black reviews The X-Files Xmas Special 2016…
When a school holiday pageant takes an extraterrestrial turn, Mulder must contend with old ghosts, present dangers, and close encounters yet to come. But this is no cookie-cutter Christmas Carol. Together with Scully, and a host of holiday visitors and visitations, they’ll rediscover the spirit of the season… if they can only survive the night.
SEE ALSO: Check out a preview of The X-Files Xmas Special 2016 here
It was surely only a matter of time before The X-Files did a take on Charles Dickens’ legendary A Christmas Carol, and Joe Harris indulges that oldest of Christmas special tropes for the 2016 Xmas Special one-shot. After a bizarre but fun knockabout issue in 2015, it’s great to see Harris–who has been doing great work on the revival run this year–backed up by some beautiful and expressive artwork by Wayne Nichols, to tell a tale as old as time almost. I may be slightly biased given Dickens’ classic is my favorite narrative in all of storytelling, but Fox Mulder is just about one of the most understandable characters to pivot a tale around about life’s journey and gaining new meaning in past, present, and future. Harris does that here while having plenty of fun in the bargain.
You surely know the Dickens’ story, so here Mulder becomes the Scrooge of sorts as three ‘spirits’ visit him in the FBI office on Christmas Eve to deliver upon him visions, but what’s interesting is that none of the ‘spirits’ are of people confirmed dead. Christmas Past is represented by a child Samantha Mulder, who is most likely dead but quite what exactly happened to her remains to a degree mysterious, Christmas Present is a beefed up Skinner (very much alive), and Christmas Future is sort of the Reaper, sort of the Cigarette-Smoking Man (who you could I suppose argue is by now undead!).
That, of course, speaks to the fact Harris’ take on this narrative isn’t precisely the same, with a mysterious narrator who could be extraterrestrial or demonic or even angelic, using the traditional elements of Christmas to study Mulder and, by default, study mankind. That’s the hook which allows Harris to probe Mulder’s mind and pluck out elements which will raise a smile of understanding on any die-hard fans face.
What’s also great, beyond using all the elements of Christmas to his strange and quirky advantage, is how Harris tethers events even more directly to Season 10 by having Mulder mention, when presented with a traditional vision of an apocalyptic future, the now ‘debunked’ conspiracy he sought for years. This is all still being debated in the fandom as we hope for a Season 11 but it’s great to see that placed in context for Mulder. Plus it’s also great to see (and shippers will love) the continued wish fulfillment of a romantic interest in Scully from Mulder, allowing for a Christmas kiss in the most unlikely of circumstances. By the end, the reset button may to an extent have been hit but you don’t feel robbed, more that you’ve joined Mulder for a lightly comic, neo-Dickensian yet still meaningful journey.
Look out also at the back of the issue a sneak preview of the next multi-part story Joe Harris is bringing us from January, ‘Contrarians’, which seems to be delving back into the historical lore of The X-Files. Raise a glass of port to Harris, Wayne Nichols, Matthew Dow Smith, Denton Tipton & all the folks at IDW Publishing bringing us Philes wonderful continues adventures for Mulder & Scully as we hope for their return on the screen. Merry Christmas to you all guys, and here’s to a great 2017. The minced pies are out there…