In Review: The X-Files #4

A good addition to the X-Files canon, adding another layer to the complex character of Dana Scully.

The covers: Scully receives most of the focus on three covers for one to collect. The Regular cover is by Menton3, showing Dana walking forward as if in a dream. A bright light behind her illuminates circular graphs flitting about her and hints at the words written on her suit. A dreamy image for this dreamy X-Files story. The Subscription cover is a Photo Cover of Gillian Anderson with her arms folded. This looks as though it was taken during the recent Season 10. She’s comfortable as she’s listening to some information. A great image. The final cover is the Retailer Incentive and it has no credit given to it on the inside cover, and that’s a shame because this is really interesting. This is a very abstract cover composed of several images colored brightly. Fox holds a flashlight forward, while Dana stands beside him with her pistol ready. They look to be in a grassy wood, based on the shapes at the bottom and the trees off to the left and in the back. Above them is an orange moon accompanied by a UFO that has a large hand reaching toward Mulder. The art is really good and the colors really make this pop. I’d love to see more covers like this. Overall grades: Regular A-, Subscription A+, and RI A+

The story: Part I of “Ishmael,” a title that instantly has meaning for X-Files fans, by Joe Harris opens at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, 1977. Melissa Scully is fixing her younger sister Dana’s hair, making it look like that of a famous actress from that summer’s blockbuster movie. “I look like I should be at that convention downtown,” Dana muses. The subject of boys is dropped when they hear a noise downstairs and Dana jumps up to meet her father, who promised to take her fishing. She walks into his den, greeted by his back, to hear him say, “No that’s not what I’m saying — Don’t you dare Ishmael me! Well, not when you’ve got the audacity to call me at my home!” He slams down the phone and turns to his daughter somberly. Dana apologizes for walking in and the man’s clothes suddenly morph into this naval whites. She asks why he’s dressed that way and he responds, “What do you mean, Starbuck?” His clothes then return to those that he was wearing when she first walked in. His face then changes into a frightening face, like that of a phosphorous burn, “Isn’t this what I always look like?” Now that’s a way to open an X-Files comic! All that was missing was the opening credits after that shocking change. Scully goes into work and discovers that someone has sent her something that signifies her relationship to her father. Mulder is concerned, so the agent reveals to him what she believes this object is about. On Page 15 she begins a conversation with a very interesting person, who has a very understandable reaction to seeing her. The final two pages really take the story into strange territory with something happening to Dana and the person she spoke to. This how I like X-Files’ cliffhangers: What the hell is going on? Again, all that’s missing is Mark Snow’s music. This is a solid “human” story focusing on Dana trying to deal with a personal dilemma, which were some of the better stories on the television series. Overall grade: A

The art: Andrew Currie does a slick job with this issue and he has to start with something incredibly difficult to create: a young version of one of the leads. Opening in 1977, Dana is in middle school, so Currie has to draw her really young, but still recognizable to the reader as the character. On top of this, writer Harris has her hair being styled into buns of an iconic film character. Even with this double whammy, Currie excels. The top of Page 2 has Dana looking in a mirror, considering her new look, and I’ve seen the same look on both of my daughters at that age: brilliant! The arrival of their father causes the two to turn smartly at the bottom of the page, even though there’s no sound. The change in her father on 4, first to whites and then to nightmare is terrific. Page 5 gives the reader a way out of the horror and the pull back from the first panel into the second is like looking at stills from an episode. The meeting she attends that day at FBI Headquarters is packed with a lot of details and several individuals, though Fox and Skinner stand out wonderfully. Mulder’s conversation in the hall, again, looks as though it’s a lost scene from the television series. Pages 11 and 12 have no supernatural moments, but Currie makes them incredibly tense because of what’s revealed. Very impressive. The new setting at the top of 14 just screams DANGER!, and the focus on what the individual is doing is creepy. Some good shocks in the issue, though the dramatic scares are just as strong. Overall grade: A

The colors: Colors in this book are used by Sebastian Cheng to be a clue to the reader about when the episodes take place. The past is a much brighter place than the present, which is how most people think of their lives. People’s clothes, the furniture, and the light is brilliant. This looks like a great time to be alive, but Cheng nicely takes those vivid hues away with the final panel on 4. The dark colors transition onto 5 and brighten slightly with Dana at work. The blues at her briefing are cool, as are the violets used for the hallway. The final two settings of the book have dark colors, but the characters’ skin is colored brightly, to have them stand out on the page and create reader focus. A good job. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, spooky dialogue, the series’ logo and story title, book text, a distant sob, a telephone conversation, floating dialogue, interior screaming (You’ll see), and the tease for next issue are brought to life by Dezi Sienty. Having the scene settings done in the familiar text from the show is a smart way to bring fans into this tale. This is fairly heavy dialogue issue with nary a sound until the final pages and then things appropriately explode. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Not all horrors come from space. Several live among us, and one is gunning for Dana. A good addition to the X-Files canon, adding another layer to the complex character of Dana Scully. Overall grade: A

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book or other X-Files books, go to

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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