In Review: The X-Files X-mas Special

A must have for X-Files fans of any era. Creepy, cool, and Christmasy.

The covers: A pair to pick from your favorite time period. The Regular cover is by Carlos Valenzuela. It’s a Christmas tree decorated with bulbs of the agents: Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, Ellinson, and Ohio. Topping the tree is a glowing green X. If I were to nit, and it’s a small one, I could think of a trio who should also be included as bulbs, but this is great. Also take note, don’t let the image I’ve used for this review let you think that’s the actually cover price of this double-sized issue. The real price is $7.99. The Artist’s Edition cover is by Vic Malhotra spotlighting the original X-Files team of Bing Ellinson and Millie Ohio. The agents are about to be caught in a downpour of gremlins. Fun cover maintaining the holiday theme while having a slew of trouble for the heroes. Overall grades: Both A

The stories: “Season 10 Greetings” by Joe Harris begins on December 24, 1972, in Chilmark, Massachusetts at the Mulder residence. Little Fox Mulder and his littler sister Samantha have made a trap for their “quarry.” They’re planted across from the fireplace behind a sofa cushion fort. Suddenly their signal bells begin rocking and a thump sounds on the roof. Fox leaps to look up the chimney but doesn’t see Santa. The next two pages deal with the fallout of his experience, given to him by his father. Harris then moves the action to the present on Christmas Eve at the city mall in Arlington, Virginia where last minute shopper Fox is trying to find something perfect for Scully. Meanwhile, at Crystal City, Dana makes her way to Skinner’s apartment where he’s having a little party, complete with three (probably) uninvited guests. This story has Harris walking an exceptionally fine line between serious and funny with this holiday tale. I love the reoccurring symbol that Mulder encounters (good link for this story between time periods) and the person he encounters is cool. I especially like what this person is holding–a good sign of the times. The party has some great moments, including the first and last panels on 11, Page 17 (Can’t this pair get any respect, Joe?), all of 18, the hiccupping individual, the gift, the final panel, and the final word. Terrific! But this isn’t the only X-Files story as Karl Kesel takes readers back to 1946 on the heels of the recently completed The X-Files: Year Zero with the 20 page “Merry Christmas, Comrade!” The Grummet Aircraft Factory in Detroit, Michigan, Christmas Eve. Special Agent Ellinson has arrived to speak with Clay Hardin about the “little misunderstanding” of people thinking he’s a Soviet spy. 48 hours ago a major incident occurred creating the third shutdown for the month. When workers scramble up to catch the figure on the second level they find Clay practicing with some magician’s rings. Things have been going wrong at the plant ever since Clay has been hired. He emphatically states it wasn’t him that caused the accident, but he’s not believed, and no one notices the lithe figure watching them from above. Millie Ohio’s arrival spins the story further back providing a nice backstory for her and Clay. His disappearance from her allows the supernatural catalyst to enter the story. I was surprised at how easily the agents accepted Guy’s story and how the problem was resolved. However, this can only be because the pair have gone on other untold cases. It’s my hope that Kesel will continue to reveal the adventures of this couple. Overall grade: Both A+

The art: The first story’s artwork by Matthew Dow Smith is as close as readers can get to the presentation of a lost episode, unless someone comes forward to use the images from the series like John Byrne now does with Star Trek. The opening page is a perfect focus into the Mulder home from up high, which leads to a perfect pulling back to establish the young protagonist and his sister. The chimney sequence looks like something from the series with its fantastic overpowering light. Smith exceptionally captures the likenesses of the actors, starting with Fox’s father before moving to more familiar faces. The conversation between Mulder and the man is visually tense as Smith moves the reader’s point-of-view around the pair. The final panel of the story is reason enough for fans to purchase this special. The second story is illustrated by Matthew Southworth. It, too, is excellent. I love that Southworth’s style looks like a comic from the time period. This issue looks like lost art by Roy Crane. The shading/textures that he places in the art gives the story a good aged authenticity. The disaster from two days earlier is a dramatic segue between days and tales. Millie’s entrance is terrific! Her story reminded me of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon strips. The three page origin of the supernatural element is beautiful. This story looks great! Overall grades: Both A+

The colors: Each story also has its own colorist. Jordie Bellaire handles this chore in “Season 10 Greetings.” The colors are subdued in most of the tale, save bright reds on Christmas items such as sweaters. I love the black and grey spin she places on the photographs for the party. And were it not for Bellaire’s coloring I would have never initially noticed the reoccurring symbol throughout this tale. “Merry Christmas, Comrade!” is colored by Matheus Lopes. The coloring helps the art in establishing its time period with many tans and browns. The three and a half page sequence focusing on the origin of the supernatural element is beautiful. Lopes uses superb roses and rusts to show the intensity of this scene. Both did excellent jobs. Overall grades: Both A+

The letters: Whew! Only one letterer for both stories and it’s Shawn Lee. He provides narration, iconic X-Files scene settings, sounds, opening titles, and supernatural speak. Southworth provides sounds for his story, as shown in a behind-the-scenes five pages from Santa’s workshop. Lee allows these tales to be told and makes me hear Mark Snow’s music each time I read his writing. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A must have for X-Files fans of any era. Creepy, cool, and Christmasy. 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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