Tony Black reviews The X-Files: Origins – Dog Days of Summer #2….
Before the FBI, before the X-Files, they were just two teenagers in search of the truth. On Martha’s Vineyard, a strange encounter with a deaf girl sends 13-year-old Fox Mulder on the hunt for a mysterious signal. While in San Diego, young Dana Scully looks into a plane crash somehow tied to the man she helped put in jail. Two kids, two mysteries, one conspiracy that threatens the future of humanity.
Operating in much the same manner as the first run of The X-Files Origins, Dog Days of Summer with its second issue continues the serialised story of young Fox Mulder and young Dana Scully, separated by three years in the 1970’s, as mysteries continue unfurling around them. Mulder is showing youthful signs of the selfless heroism that would later mark his career as an FBI agent, given at the end of the first issue he rescued a young deaf girl, Lisa, from a fatal accident. It also ties into his awkwardness around girls, especially when the mysterious Mercy comes back into the picture, with Jody Houser continuing neatly to build in the investigative, curious instincts in Mulder with the usual level of teenage angst.
One of the things that stands out with Origins, and IDW’s comics of recent years overall in fact, is just how well the writers clearly know X-Files canon. There is an appreciation of events bubbling under the scenes in Mulder & Scully’s childhood, evidenced by how Mulder begins piecing together elements on whatever is happening underwater the government are involved in with his parents, Bill & Tina, rowing in the background; their fractious relationship, buoyed by many of the secrets Mulder will uncover as an adult, maintains a level of appreciation of the backstory to the series so important to fans.
On the flipside, Scully is frustrated because her voice won’t be heard by law enforcement, which in many respects taps into the same innate sexist natures she would on occasion run across during the series as an FBI agent later in life; she has key details here about the plane crash, having discovered a connection between the pilot and the murder of her Sunday school teacher which happened in the previous series, but her age and perceived childishness locks her out of being useful. Matthew Dow Smith continues writing Scully intelligently & in character, and again he & Houser work carefully to weave connections and links between her & Mulder’s stories, while being respectful to backstory and canon.
Though very much still in the process of establishing mysteries, conspiracies and plot points, Dog Days of Summer continues to be a strong prequel to the events of The X-Files for our intrepid FBI agents as children. Lovely, bright, expressive panels from Corin Howell & Chris Fenoglio equally add to the tone and feel of Dow Smith & Houser’s story as the narrative wheels turn. It continues to feel totally in step with the strong first run and increasingly you realise, once complete, this is going to make a delightful, continuing story over numerous trade runs. Essential for X-Philes and beyond, especially children.