In Review: The X-Files #15

Government takeovers, conspiracies, and things eager to be let loose make this an outstanding X-Files.

The covers: Two covers to track down for this second chapter of “Resistance.” The Regular cover is by Menton 3 and shows a disturbed Fox Mulder standing before a circular graph that’s barely visible. As the reader’s eyes drift downwards, the graph disappears and is replaced by utter darkness. Good symbolism of what’s to be found within this issue. The Subscription cover is a photo cover featuring David Duchovny as Fox Mulder. His gun is out and pointed to his left at an unseen foe. I’m a huge fan of photo covers, so this was the one I had to purchase. Overall grades: Regular B+ and Subscription A+

The story: If you’ve never read an X-Files comic book before, you’ve got to read the first five pages of this book. It’s both funny and frightening. Joe Harris begins this tale in the White House during a meeting of the President’s National Security Council. Things have gotten serious with North Korea, they’ve shot three more missiles into the Sea of Japan. The majority of the members want to make a response, but General Cunnigham would prefer to consider other options before using a military response. Over a speaker, President Trump puts in his two cents, when it’s not interfering with his golf game, which can be heard. One person at the meeting says, “If we retaliate for the missile launches, we have options. Mr. President…We could commemorate the occasion with a series of limited edition coins, for instance.” Which has the president responding, “Now I really like that idea!” Cunningham is stunned and voices his opinion more strongly, which has the president thinking he doesn’t want to be on a winning team. As the POTUS launches into his vision for the nation, the other attendees beat Cunningham to the floor. Their eyes have turned a luminescent yellow and a similarly colored energy beigns to pour out of them as they converge on the shocked general. The book then moves into the past, 1982 to be specific, where one character’s backstory is revealed and how his run-in with Conrad Strughold, from The X-Files: Fight the Future, changed his life and, possibly, the world’s. Things get dramatic quickly, with the agents separating and Fox meeting with Ben-Brahim and discovering something terrible. Worse still is the revelation from Firas that things are about to get worse. Meanwhile, Scully has gone to investigate a reoccurring address in several of Ben-Brahim’s letters. What she finds there is a surprise, leaving the reader hanging for another month. This story excellently captures the paranoia, the conspiracies, and the supernatural threats of the series. Plus, bonus points to Harris for the address’s numbers. Outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The art: Matthew Dow Smith has a photo-realistic quality with his artwork that is the envy of other books. Not just with the characters, but his settings are outstanding. Take a look at the first page’s slow pull in to the Security Council meeting: a long shot of the White House, then an empty and dark Oval Office, followed by two Marines standing guard to a pair of doors, ending with a close up of the doors themselves. Completely cinematic. Page 2 reveals the people in the room, sitting around a table. This is not Dr. Strangelove territory, this is a cramped room with at least seventeen people and computer monitors on the walls. The tense faces of the speakers show the severity of the situation, with a speaker box representing the absent president. When Cunningham makes his final plea he’s given the most space of any character and his resolve his obvious by the illustration. As the general is surrounded and knocked to the ground, the shock of the occurrence is palpable, ending Page 4 with the general’s eyes going wide telegraphing to the reader that there’s something even worse going on. This leads to the amazing Page 5 where the hidden nature of the other attendees is revealed. It’s Lovecraftian in its utter alien-ness. This is followed by a three page flashback sequence that I instantly recognized as soon as I saw the crops — It gave me goosebumps revisiting this location. Interrupting this flashback is the present, where Firas is making a plea to some unseen individuals. Combined with the dialogue, this is practically Shakespearean. Fox’s scenes with the antagonist are full of tremendous emotion, with is due in no small part to the backgrounds. The final three pages have Scully entering a house and what she finds, and what she doesn’t, will have readers on the edge of their seats. It falls heavily on Smith to provide every visual clue to the reader as to what Scully can and cannot see, making him or her feel as nervous as the character. Smith is making this a home run. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Completing the artwork perfectly are the colors by Jordie Bellaire. The first page sets the stage brilliantly for the pages that are to follow by having the White House darkened. As one of the most famous structures in the world, it’s always lit up at night. Not in this book. Even where the Marines stand guard is dark. This creates an ominous feeling before a page is turned, and when it is — Wow! The Security Council is green, due to the monitors surrounding them. This gives the book a very alien feel and foreshadows what’s to occur. Notice how the president, who’s not present, is given a red border on his speech balloons to show his power and how he’s absent. The flashback panels are in greys and whites, creating an instant recognition of the past for the reader. These contrast spectacularly with what’s occurring in the present. And check out the third panel on Page 7; any darker or lighter with the colors would have ruined the effect, but Bellaire nails it. A familiar setting is revisited on 12 and it’s dark, but not so dark that the artwork is lost in the coloring. This page and 13 provide a nice build for the reveal on 14 that shocks the reader and Fox with its colors. This is outstanding coloring that makes The X-Files the moody series that fans want. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Christa Miesner is responsible for scene settings, transmissions and dialogue (the same font), the story’s title, a haunting voice, sounds, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings mirror the classic transitions used on the television series, and they bring the reader more deeply into the story when they appear. Given the amount of dialogue that appears in several panels, it’s impressive that Miesner can insert it without stepping on the artwork. The dialogue is always easy to read, though I wish that the president’s speech had been a different font, as it’s coming over a speaker, rather than just having the dialogue balloon’s shape changed. Overall grade: A

The final line: After reading this, you’ll be lucky to sleep through the night. Government takeovers, conspiracies, and things eager to be let loose make this an outstanding X-Files. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A

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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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