In Review: The X-Files #16

Scully is at ground zero for the conspiracy, Mulder is far away, and the missiles have been launched.

The covers: A pair of covers on this penultimate issue and both are worth buying. The A cover is by Menton3, showing a bust of Scully looking at the reader. She’s wearing a white collared dress shirt with a jacket and her face is empty of expression. Prison bars come down from the top, caging her. Emerging from the bottom of her image are handcuffs, chains, and a key. The background is a smoky white. This is excellent! Tom Whalen is responsible for the B cover featuring a character that can be found in Audible’s recent X-Files release, Cold Cases – Flukeman! Seen from the left, the creature dominates the cover, with one arm held close to its chest as it emits a roar. The character looks great and the coloring is outstanding, with the orange background and criss-crossing lines super. Either one of these would be a welcome addition for a collector. Overall grades: Both A

The story: The third part of “Resistance” begins with Scully in dark room. She yells, “Who’s out there? Can anybody hear me?” Someone can, because she’s being monitored on close circuit. “I’m a federal agent!” A light goes on and she’s momentarily blinded. Before her are several bodies on gurneys, the sheets covered in blood. A military woman, shown last issue, reveals herself. “He had it coming, I assure you. Then, once we realized who you were, Agent Scully…our parameters regarding the National Security Crisis we’re currently dealing with changed entirely.” Asked who all these people are, the woman continues, “Traitors to their country. There is a conspiracy at work, against this nation and its leadership, Agent Scully. Forces intent on undermining our efforts to transform this country are out there, hidden among the living.” She then produces an electrical probe to show the agent what sort of conspiracy it is. The final panel on the fourth page shows the agent how bad her situation is. Writer Joe Harris is certainly pulling out all the stops for this final X-Files: Scully is in over her head, treading into territory that’s more often Mulder’s, while he gets help from Skinner, only to end up with Ben-Brahim. An explosion, a launch, and a demand end the issue with the world’s end inescapable. I’m confident that Harris will get the heroes, and the world out, of this situation, and I can’t wait to see how he does it. Overall grade: A+

The art: Artist Matthew Dow Smith is such a cinematic artist. Every panel of this book creates tension, curiosity, and fear. The opening page is nightmarish with Scully in the dark, with the reader aware she’s being watched. The military woman that speaks to Scully had me jumping up and down in glee. I don’t know if Smith was directed to make this character resemble this individual, but I couldn’t be more ecstatic to see this actress in this book and series. Page 6 is a thrilling full page splash that’s the perfect image to create a major “Uh-Oh” moment before a change of scenes. Skinner and Mulder’s pages are great, with both men intense and the Assistant Director’s final panel full of irony, pain, and anger. Scully’s scenes are intense for not only whom she’s up against, but the fallout from that conflict is as mesmerizing as anything from the series’ best mythology episodes: Pages 11, 15, and 16 contain little dialogue, but say so much. Technology in the story allows Mulder to see his partner, and Smith does a very cool job in delivering Fox’s view to the reader. The final three pages move back and forth between four settings, increasing the tension wonderfully, and leaving the reader gasping for thirty days awaiting the conclusion. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jordie Bellaire is a vital contributor to this issue because colors are key for the story and creating tension. The first page has the reader barely able to see what’s happening to Scully, with the cold pale blue of a monitor and the harsh red light of a camera telling the reader that the agent is not alone. When the lights go on, they are a sickly antiseptic industrial yellow, which increases the secrecy of the location. Eye color is absolutely paramount in this issue, as they reveal dark truths to the characters and reader. Yellows return for the lights of an underground garage, making it seem unearthly. The oranges on Page 14 are great, with the colors informing the reader of the point of view. The light greens and the darker ones used for sound effects on 16 foreshadow so much trouble, as do the dialogue balloons that are colored black. The coloring on this book is unquestionably a key component to its understanding. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, mournful pleas, the series’ iconic title, scene settings, sounds, computer text, and the tease for next issue hail from Christa Miesner. It’s always cool to see the scene settings in this series be similar to those of the television episodes, since it brings the reading experience closer to that of the episodes. All the work in this book looks good, though I would have preferred seeing an italicized font for the transmissions, rather than a change in the shape of the dialogue box and its coloring. Overall grade: A

The final line: Scully is at ground zero for the conspiracy, Mulder is far away, and the missiles have been launched. This penultimate issue has the entire future of the world in jeopardy, as one group continues to remain silent. Must reading for X-Files fans that creates paranoia and visual thrills on every page. Overall grade: A

To purchase a print or digital copy go to http://www.idwpublishing.com/product/the-x-files-16/

To see both covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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