In Review: The X-Files: Year Zero #5

A fantastic addition to The X-Files' history.

The covers: A pair of images showing our favorite FBI agents in two radically different environments. The Regular cover is by Carlos Valenzuela. Mulder and Scully are in the woods when they’re startled by Mr. Zero’s appearance. They’ve drawn their guns but are they fast enough to stop this supernatural foe? Sweet poses by the heroes and good coloring as the wooded background shines through most of Mr. Zero. The Subscription cover is by Robert Hack with colors by Stephen Downer. This is my favorite cover as it mimics the look of a pulp novel, including the sticker price tag. Mulder is calm and collect watching Scully plug the beast on the ground with a pistol. Absolutely fantastic! Overall grades: Regular A and Subscription A+

The story: Writer Karl Kesel wraps this series up in fine fashion. The book opens in present day Egg Harbor, New Jersey, as Mulder and Scully confront Mrs. Savoy at work. Fox says she’s Dell Spoon’s mother. That’s impossible because she’s younger than Dell and he hates his mother. Suddenly Mrs. Savoy has a vision of three men pointing guns at Dell and she passes out. When she wakes up in her apartment, brought there by the agents, she is reassured by Scully that they have experience with “unusual cases.” Savoy then admits she’s Dorothy Sears. She then reveals her relationship with Mr. Zero and that he promised her immortality. Her spell in the diner was a sign of an occurring event that causes the three to go to Dell’s location and the climax and conclusion of this tale. Just as readers may suspect the story is winding down, Kesel has some good twists on every page from 8 – 13. There is a terrific Mulder line at the bottom of Page 14 with a nice coda following that which is found in the better X-Files episodes. However, the final five pages go back to the past showing what Ellinson and Ohio’s fate is to be, as directed by J. Edgar Hoover. It includes a tease for The X-Files X-Mas Special and a one word bombshell on the penultimate page. Terrific conclusion. Overall grade: A+

The art: Two artists on this book with Greg Scott handling the present and Vic Malhotra providing the past. Scott creates a very realistic present. Mulder and Scully look great, with outstanding portraits occurring on Pages 9 and 13 – 15. I really must draw attention to that final panel on 14 which is the perfect pose and rendering to go along with that single word of dialogue. The supporting characters are also well done with Dell being a particular standout. The individual that appears on Page 10 had me concerned. This person is given an origin which could have made Scott alter the character into a cliché, but he does not. If anything the character retains his mystery and is someone to fear, as shown on Page 11 (Love that second panel!). In 1947 the visual chores switch to Malhotra and I love this look. The art is stylized to resemble the visuals in comics form that time period and it works tremendously. I love the look of the leads, but that Hoover was perfection. The setting the heroes go to on Page 17 is great, and I love the motion line for the hat! The final page is as close as The X-Files will ever get to walking into the sunset. This book looks fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Mat Lopes colors this book excellently. The X-Files’ best stories take place in the dark, but Lopes knows how to light such settings to allow readers to see what must be seen and keep what must remain hidden dark. The issue opens in a nicely lit diner with some good shadow and backlight work. A moment of pain on Page 2 explodes into crimson, leading into darkness. Sears’s apartment is washed out, symbolizing her age in a Dorian Gray fashion. When the time goes to night flashlights glare wonderfully and sound effects pop boldly. An arrival on 10 is gloriously over the top. For the 1947 sequences the colors are again washed out, instantly dating the action and making the experience more real for the reader. Very well done work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Tom B. Long closes things out strongly, contributing the famous X-Files location identification, dialogue, sounds, and report font. All completely submerge the reader in the story, especially that report font on Page 15. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A fantastic addition to The X-Files’ history. However, it can’t end here. I want more from 1947. Everyone must return for a second series. C’mon, IDW! Don’t make me go Robert Patrick Modell on you! 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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