In Review: The X-Files: Season 10 #23

This book came out last month, but it's worth tracking down. Recommended.

The covers: Francesco Francavilla is the artist of the Regular cover. A gigantic X cuts the cover into four pieces. On the left is Fox Mulder with his face cast down, to the right is the Second Elder — a member of the Syndicate, and down below is a frightened looking Gibson Praise. The center top is comprised of the title and some machinery resembling the cloning facility shown last issue. This is a good cover by Francavilla who’s captured the likenesses of David Duchovny, George Murdock, and Jeff Gulka well. The Subscription photocover features Jeff Gulka as young Praise, before he became the monster that’s causing Mulder so much trouble. This is an excellent cover and one to get. The Retailer Incentive cover is another in the painting/portrait cover series by Matthew Dow Smith. It features one of my favorite characters from the series, Mr. X. It’s a decent interpretation of actor Steve Williams, but it looks too digitized. Overall grades: Main A, Subscription A+, and RI C+

The story: Part 3 of “Elders” by Joe Harris opens in a very usual setting: U.S. Naval Base Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Alarms have gone off since a prisoner has escaped. A squad has been dispatched but hasn’t caught him. The escapee makes his way through the woods, speaking aloud to seemingly no one. “Ten meters north…Then twelve east.” He enters a section marked as dangerous for containing land mines. Counting off his steps aloud, he’s successful until he reaches twelve. He’s thrown backwards, alerting his pursuers to his location. Sadly, they have to pull back to “mind the sovereignty line.” Sitting upright, the Cigarette Smoking Man pulls a pack of jags from his orange jumpsuit. “Get to the beach…To the water…Learn…Remember before–” and he’s interrupted by someone yelling at him in Spanish. He turns and says, “I don’t suppose I could trouble either of you for light, hm?” The two men in fireproof suits ignite their flamethrowers and torch him. That’s how to start a book, ladies and gentlemen! The remainder of the book goes between Fox and Parish, while Scully listens to the Cigarette Smoking Man (?!?!?)reveal why Parish must be stopped. One or both of the agents is/are being played, but, like a classic episode, readers will have to wait for the next installment to see what the answer is. How the dead have returned is revealed, though their purpose is yet to be made clear. Excellent reading that creates distrust in everyone. Overall grade: A+

The art: Cinematic needs to be Matthew Dow Smith’s middle name. His panels are like looking at stills from a movie. The first three pages use six horizontal panels on a page to tell the story. Without consulting the text a general understanding of what’s going on can be inferred; however, it is the dialogue that makes what’s going on eerie. I like how Smith is able to go three pages without revealing the identity of the CSM. Page 5 takes up three-quarters of the page and it’s horrific and spellbinding. The frustration on Mulder’s face at the bottom of 6 is perfect, as are his looks on 9 and 11. The character who appears on 12 creates a great “Uh-oh” moment and the tight close-up in the fourth panel implies he’s getting uncomfortably close to Mulder. The flashback sequences on 13 and 14 nicely mirrors the episode they’re from, but the scene stealer on 14 and 15 is the foliage behind Scully. Smith has captured the likenesses and tone of this series flawlessly. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jordie Bellaire also contributes heavily to the tone of this book with her coloring. The opening sequence has a fantastic sunrise in the background of every panel. Colors are muted because of the early morning, which only makes the action on Page 5 startling with its strong yellows and oranges. Mulder’s setting is very dark, but Bellaire still has every sight remain seen, though readers, like Mulder, really have to strain to see the details. I love the pea green on several pages to denote a telltale sign of an infamous character trait. I also like how Gibson’s glasses glow an unearthly blue, making him so alien to Mulder. The oranges used on 13 – 15 are terrific, and sounds explode due to their bright colors. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Agent Chris Mowry reports to duty with iconic scene settings, sounds, dialogue, signage, the opening story title, screams, a creepy dialogue font that first appears on Page 12, and the tease for next issue. His work is great and that font on 12 looks as scary as it mentally sounds. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This book came out last month, but it’s worth tracking down. Heroes in danger, a conspiracy/mystery, and villains apparently changing course make this riveting reading. Recommended. Overall grade: A+

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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