Tony Black reviews The X-Files #16…
Tensions are building to an absolute knife edge in the penultimate issue of The X-Files continuation run, part three of ‘Resistance’, as Joe Harris front loads his story with the most pointed commentary yet about the Trump administration, the Lovecraftian alien menace cementing its hold and both Mulder & Scully under serious threat from the insidious forces taking power in the government. Events are racing toward the kind of conclusion you only ever get in Chris Carter’s magnum opus; enigmatic, open-ended and filled with topical subtext. ‘Resistance’ as a mythology story in many ways feels like the super soldier narrative of Seasons 8 & 9 of the show done with a little more political, satirical panache.
The super soldier storyline hasn’t been weaved into ‘Resistance’ but quite honestly it could be as Harris’ story, especially in this issue, hems closely to Carter’s take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In this case, the orange-eyed, almost demonic alien creatures living inside human beings begin communicating their intentions to both Scully and Mulder, through various different vessels. The concept of both storylines is identical; insidious forces taking power through weak, ineffectual Republican governments, and with the weakest American government in power for generations, Harris accentuates this many fold. He fuses the quiet alien consumption with a much louder distraction, the idea of Trump going to war with North Korea. This is classic X-Files; Harris exacerbating real world tensions for powerful dramatic effect.
With the spectre of possible nuclear war hanging over the story, a Third World War spurred on by these insidious and frankly creepy alien forces assuming control with Trump as their likely stooge, Mulder & Scully are placed in their classic position of trying to understand their situation, much less do anything about it. Firas Ben-Brahim lurks after his revelations to Mulder previously while Scully is kept in a ‘black site’, the epitome of off-the-grid X-Files paranoia, menaced by resurrected alien forces. Much like artist Matthew Dow Smith, whose panels once again drip with sinister foreboding, drew Ben-Brahim in the style of Mads Mikklesen, so the military official Scully encounters looks like a 1990’s Kate Mulgrew to a tee. When another officer called her ‘Admiral’, I almost guffawed at the in-joke. ‘Resistance’ gets away with these winks and nods with consummate ease.
Giving Skinner more of a presence has also been a boon to this story, he once again straddling the line between helping Mulder and what he can’t tell him, which helps further build ‘Resistance’ into the kind of spooky mythology story you almost wish the TV show was tapping into. Tight, complex, filled with unerring moments and a real sense of impending doom that fits the zeitgeist of our time, ‘Resistance’ sets the scene for what could be Joe Harris’ best story yet for this continuation series of The X-Files as he bows out of the job.