In Review: The X-Files #22

This is shaping up to be a sensational season finale. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Three covers that will move you closer to the truth. The Regular cover is by Francesco Francavilla. The Glasses Wearing Man is in the foreground with Mulder coming up on him, looking upset. In the background a giant X separates the two. Good, moody image with GWM looking at something red that’s engulfing him. This teases wonderfully at the story within. The Subscription cover is a surprising image of Mulder wearing prison orange. This shot of star David Duchovny also teases the story well. The Retailer Incentive cover is by Matthew Dow Smith. As with last issue’s RI, this is a painting of a major X-Files character–GWM. The curtains have been drawn and he’s revealed. Aren’t you anxious to see who he is? Overall grades: Regular A-, Subscription A+, and RI A-

The story: Klovis, New Mexico, 2001. A small boy is running down the street carrying a bag of “stuff.” He’s stopped by a police car. The Chief of Police emerges from his vehicle with his gun drawn. The boy turns, revealing a very important character from The X-Files mythos. Deputy Carter emerges from the car next┬ásaying the kid isn’t the one they’re looking for. The chief’s gun swings to him. “I said get back in the damn car!” The deputy goes back in to request assistance and then retrieves a screwdriver looking instrument. “I know what you are,” the boy says to the chief. That’s when Carter stabs the chief in the base of his neck, and is then shot by the chief. Both men fall to the pavement, and the boy continues his trek. If that’s not enough of a dramatic beginning to “Elders” Part 2 by Joe Harris, page 7 will hammer home things aren’t right. In the present, Scully is looking for the missing Mulder, and even Skinner is telling her to watch her step. Where Mulder is and what he sees has him crossing paths with several infamous characters and explains how they’ve been able to appear in this comic book season. I was cheering at the individuals on Page 14 and the confirmation on 20. This is so bad for our heroes, but so good to read. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals are winners on every page in every panel. Matthew Dow Smith doesn’t just excel at capturing the likenesses of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, he’s also outstanding with Mitch Pileggi, Tom Skerritt, and Jeff Gulka. The first seven pages are a superb tense action sequence with Smith starting with five letterbox panels that hide the boy’s identity until the top of Page 2, which has a terrific stone-faced look on the young man. Love the tease on the figure in silhouette at the bottom of that same page. The action on 5 is perfectly choreographed, again using letterbox panels. The settings are also strong, with Page 13 echoing a familiar scene from Fight the Future. There’s a pretty grotesque scene on 18 that could have been more explicit, but Smith illustrated it correctly: it begins subtly and then morphs quickly. My favorite image of the book is the final page, which reveals the antagonist and it’s the perfect closer. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The opening sequence is instantly recognized as a flashback not because of the story or art but because of Jordie Bellaire’s coloring. Black, white, and gray pull readers into the past and then the bright colors of reality signify a shift to the present on Page 8. As good as Bellaire does on these pages, it’s the sick yellow-green that’s introduced on Page 13 that really creates an emotional response. That disturbing blend of colors telegraph the unease that Mulder will experience up close and personally. Excellent work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Chris Mowry provides the iconic X-Files’ scene settings, sounds, dialogue, the issue’s story title, and yells. His dialogue is crisp and I felt the emotion of each italicized word. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is shaping up to be a sensational season finale. A dream come true for X-Files fans. Highest possible recommendation. 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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