Tony Black reviews The X-Files: Deviations 2017…
In a world where young Fox Mulder was abducted by aliens and never returned, another Mulder takes up the crusade against deception! Agent Samantha Mulder returns with Agent Dana Scully to investigate a shadowy figure who may hold the truth behind the disappearance of Sam’s brother Fox. Guest-starring the Lone Gunmen!
SEE ALSO: Read a preview of The X-Files: Deviations 2017 here
IDW have over the past year been producing comics for a range of their tie-in titles called ‘Deviations’, which take a key concept from each property and invert or twist it, allowing them to sell a similar story from a different perspective. Think a parallel universe version of the world and characters you know, and in the case of The X-Files it’s a world where it wasn’t Samantha Mulder abducted in 1974, but rather her brother Fox we know and love. In this ‘Deviations’, Samantha–or Sam as she’s known to many–was the one who grew up, became an intrepid FBI agent, and discovered the X-Files as a pretext to exposing the truth about her brother’s disappearance. A simple inversion, yet one predisposed to the idea Samantha would grow up and become almost the exact same person as Fox, which I don’t particularly buy at all.
The first ‘Deviations’ last year, which saw Sam Mulder get a new partner in the Dana Scully we’re all familiar with, wasn’t a comic I was enamoured of, in truth. It felt like a gimmick, and in many respects so does this one. Amy Chu’s story is simply a greatest hits repackage of the ‘Colony/End Game’ story from Season 2 (an absolute classic piece of TV incidentally), alongside a revision of the Lone Gunmen introduction scene from Season 1’s ‘E.B.E’. That’s it really. That’s basically the sum total. Not an exact copy, but the same beats – secret alien clones living among us, the Alien Bounty Hunter, shades of conspiracy. Done. No subtext, no shades of gray, not even much in the way of menace given the fact the Alien Bounty Hunter is pretty scary when we first see him. It’s reheated to the point any X-Files fan will groan.
Or will they? Then again, the opposite may be true for many. You may lap up the dialogue lifts, or subversions of memorable dialogue from the show. You may love similar beats being re-trodden. You may love names and characters Mulder & Scully rarely openly talked about bandied about very clearly so people can understand. If you do, that’s great. There’s very little here, though, that sells the concept of The X-Files to anyone new. It sits closer in tone to the recent Origins mini-series, though it lacks that series’ freshness in style and setting. It does have some nice art and rendering, and it’s really nice at the end to get some bonus pages showing how the storyboards, script and lettering are put together, but it’s not worth enough for the price of admission.
Though the ending suggests more are on the way, I’d be happy if this was the end of The X-Files Deviations, in truth. Beyond the one-line gimmick of Samantha being the Mulder character, it’s not a concept which really feels like it has legs, certainly none which have the ability to tell an inventive, original version of the show we know so well. For anyone who wants a greatest hits, fill your boots. If you want some more subtlety and intrigue, stick with what Joe Harris is doing on the revival run.