Tony Black reviews The X-Files #11…
“Contrarians,” Part 2 (of 2): Mulder chances upon evidence that suggests the now-defunct Syndicate’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. Guest-starring the Cigarette Smoking Man and President Reagan!
SEE ALSO: Check out a preview of The X-Files #11 here
The second part of ‘Contrarians’ manages to continue Joe Harris’ glance into the dark underbelly of America’s recent history, with a classic The X-Files slant. The first issue heavily pivoted around the Cigarette-Smoking Man & the Syndicate’s connection to Ronald Reagan’s at times controversial presidency, while casting the events of Grenada in an entirely different light. Part two continues those elements while adding more of a supernatural touch, in two time periods – the present, as Mulder faces an informant who connects him to the past, where we see a slightly younger Smoking Man in the late 1980’s alongside Bill Mulder, attempting to cover up an extra-terrestrial presence. It’s another enjoyable fusion of conspiracy and alternate history which Harris has nicely interwoven in many of his comics in this sandbox to date.
What’s impressive is just how Harris manages to connect both stories, past and present, without it feeling like a stretch. Scully doesn’t get as much to do here as she has done previously but she’s still ultimately involved in Mulder’s search for the truth behind the events in Nicaragua, via the contact we last saw approach him at the end of part one. He’s the connective back to Smoking Man & Bill Mulder flashbacks that never feel contrived and serve ultimately to make a greater commentary on government interference beyond American borders while enjoying the subtle, sparky by-play between the devilish CSM and the increasingly embittered Bill.
Indeed Harris clearly has great fun tapping into the wellspring of innuendo and subtext which layered the Mulder parentage issue, which the show enjoyed playing with at times. Beyond this, there is enough of a paranormal aspect beyond the conspiracy, with a downed UFO drawn ominously in an almost Prometheus-style hue by Greg Scott, to keep the story entertaining. Seeds clearly are planted here once more, with a callback or two to Harris’s greater story plan, but they’re not too overt and never detract from an interesting tale, well told.
Stick around too for a delightful stinger of a final moment which brings ‘Contrarians’ full circle in many ways. If this issue lacks the raw, post-election anger Joe Harris poured into the first, it nonetheless reeks of mythological understanding of the series and the greater political and conspiratorial elements of the characters and story being told. A brief, therefore, but stylish and enjoyable two-part story, very nicely drawn, which ends here in satisfying fashion.