The X-Files: Case Files–Florida Man #1

An excellent addition to The X-Files saga.

The covers: A threesome to choose among for this opening issue and each one is a winner. The A cover by Catherine Nodet is a gorgeous frontpiece of the leads in their work suits looking at the reader. Fox is slightly in front of Dana, an X-File cradled in his left arm. Dana has her arms crossed as if in disbelief at what Mulder is going to show her. Behind the pair are several X-Files, with Duane Barry’s name on the topmost. This is a fantastic image and is print, poster, and tee shirt worth. The B cover is by J.J. Lendl and it’s the one I purchased. This has cheesy text, the kind found on handouts or advertisements that try to attract tourists. In a white rectangular box, Scully and Mulder have their guns drawn at an unseen foe. Both characters are colored in a vivid red. To their left, emerging like a giant from the Everglades is a half-man half-gator. He holds his clawed hands up with a silent scream. Beneath all is the illustration of a happy alligator, with the text “Prepare for the mystery of the…FLORIDA MAN…” I love the cheese factor on this and I had to buy it. The RI cover is by by Charles Paul Wilson III and I couldn’t find a copy of this anywhere in any store! This is an ad for Big Steve’s Gator World which makes an appearance in this issue. Resembling a poster used to advertise a highway mom and pop shop, a gator is the center of this image, though the head is only comprised of the creature’s skull which is open to strike at its prey. Above and bellow the artwork is incredibly cool text that lists the owner and the name of the shop. I’d pick this one up if I saw it. Overall grades: All A

The story: August 5, 2017. Ocala, Florida. Mulder and Scully exit their plane, with Fox complaining about the heat. At a highway diner, Fox reveals that they’re in the Sunshine State to meet the Florida Man. Their destination is the town of Halpadalgi, that has the “highest concentration of ‘Florida Man’ incidents in the state. Not only as relates to bath salt-induced crimes, but also regarding unexplained disappearances.” After back on the road for some time, Fox has Dana pull over so he can ask a young man why he’s painting outside. He gets his answer and finds himself attracted to one of the artist’s works that has subject matter with an Egyptian influence. The two reach their destination and find things shockingly normal. They meet with the local law and things go as they both expected. Leaving the police station they come upon Big Steve’s Gator World. They contents of this store aren’t exactly their cup of tea. It’s outside this establishment that something odd happens, ending the issue with an outstanding cliffhanger. This tale by Delilah S. Dawson has all the strangeness of a classic X-Files. It was neat to see Mulder be the uncomfortable one for the story, as it’s usually Dana who’s having a terrible time during their investigations. The agents are well written, with Dana’s responses to Fox’s comments wonderfully dry; she’s going to do all that she can to complete this case and then get back home. When the pair enter Big Steve’s Mulder seems to fall into his element, though once outside both are shocked at what they encounter. I like that this incident occurred in the middle of the street in daylight, since most X-Files are in the dead of night with no chance of witnesses. The ending is an awesome tease that has me anxious to see what happens next. Overall grade: A

The art: The great visuals on this book hail from penciler Elena Casagrande and inker Silvia Califano. One of the reasons The X-Files has been so successful is that it has a high level of reality, so that when something incredible appears it’s shocking. The artwork on this book looks very real, with both artists packing in a ton of details into every panel. The rural setting the agents are traveling through in the opening page’s second panel looks great. Seeing Mulder dying from the heat in the next panel, while Scully continues to drive while wearing her jacket visual shows the reader how each is handling the humidity. The point of view of the final panel instantly communicates to the reader where the pair have stopped without the characters having to mention it. The stance and design of the cashier at the bottom of the second page is the perfect response to Mulder’s request. The artist the pair encounter on the road looks great. His calm demeanor makes the subjects of this paintings even more odd. The creature they find further down the road is drawn very well, with Mulder’s position at the end of 6 a fitting punchline. Halpadalgi looks like the perfect American small town, which set me on edge since nothing is ever normal in this series. The sheriff is an excellent character, whose emotions are obvious and his body language extremely telling. Big Steve’s Gator World has a fantastic character running the business and the items within the store are fantastic. The action on 18 is surprising, since this rarely happens on the show. The final large image on the last page is fantastic. All that’s missing from this image is the closing music by Mark Snow. This is the perfect art team for this series. Overall grade: A

The colors: All the colors of this book showcase the heat. Arianna Florean always has a bright light source and it’s constantly hammering on Fox. It first shows itself in the third panel on Page 1. It continues to make itself known when Fox is at the cashier, with the shadows heavy on the ancient device. When the painter’s face is revealed it’s also colored brightly with a strong shadow to show the heat. The colors on the painting Mulder buys are very off; it’s not done in pastels, but it’s close enough, creating the first odd element in the story. The sheriff’s office has all the expected browns one would expect in such a location, but again the shadows and brights done on the characters remind the reader of the heat. The walls within Gator World are a burnt rose, making the items for sale ominous. When the action occurs at the end of the issue, Florean uses whites extremely well for the most intense panels. Often colorists will color empty backgrounds in bright, harsh colors to up the intensity, but by leaving them white the reality of the situation isn’t lost and the reader is incredibly focused on the characters. Overall grade: A

The letters: Shawn Lee creates scene settings, dialogue, newspaper text, signage, yells, sounds, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings resemble those of the series, bringing the reader into familiar territory from the get-go. The dialogue is easy to read and never overpowers any of the artwork they accompany. There’s a nice variety of signage throughout the book, from business marquees to scrawled messages on cardboard. I do wonder about Scully’s gun. The first time she shoots her weapon, which is close to the reader makes a fairly small sound, but when she fires again, and is further from the reader, the sound is five times as large. It’s a little difference, but one I picked up on. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A search for the Florida Man has the agents stumbling upon something wrong with a small town. An excellent addition to The X-Files saga. The characters are true to their television counterparts, with Mulder having some sensational comments, and the art creating a wonderful sense of reality. Things are slowly being revealed and I want to know what’s going to happen next. 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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