Want an original adventure with Mulder and Scully but don’t feel like going near their recent so-so reviewed film? You can’t go wrong by checking out Wildstorm’s brand new X-FILES comic, written by Frank Spotnitz and drawn by Brian Denham. Though this first issue is very low key in regards to action and X-files mythology, it still delivers a compelling story, and captures the magic of the hit 1990’s tv show.
Denham draws in a photo-realistic style; His Mulder, Scully, Lone Gunmen and even Skinner look exactly like the actors they are based on. Sponitz’s script is set up in such a way that it mirrors a regular X-Files episode, all the way down to the opening credits. Iconic pictures from the show’s intro, like the man pointing at the UFO or the shots of Mulder and Scully’s FBI badges are spread out in the panels on the first page. All that is missing is the music by Mark Snow. The team has stuck to the format of the show so strictly that they have omitted a title, since X-Files episodes never featured one. The omitted title is strange for a comic, and may cause confusion for readers down the road when they try to collect individual storylines. For our benefit, I will come up with a title for this issue - “Falu,” which is the type of abstract title you would see for an X-Files episode. Don’t worry, the word “Falu” is actually used in the comic. I will get around to explaining it.
You don’t need to be an X-Files fan to enjoy this comic, but it certainly affects how much of the comic you will appreciate. The story does not involve any of the X-Files mythology. After the end of the first issue, it is sage to guess that neither the aliens or the syndicate are going to be involved. Mulder and Scully are there on the page, with all of their quirks, saying exactly what they would say in each situation. Readers who aren’t fans of the show, if they have half a brain, can glean all they need to know about the two main characters from what they’re reading - Mulder is the believer. The first person to state: “There is more to this case than what the police report states.” Scully is the skeptic, there to play Devil’s Advocate to him.
Our story opens with an Asian woman describing her brother’s death to Mulder and Scully. At first, Mulder and Scully dismiss the woman, telling her that they deal with cases that “seem to defy rational or conventional explanation” and not suicide, which is what seems to have occurred with Noah Park, the woman’s brother. However, the woman explains that Noah didn’t commit suicide. In fact, he was determined not to die.
Scully still thinks that Noah killed himself, while Mulder is intrigued by the woman’s story. It is then off to the morgue for our two agents. Because of a clerical error, Noah’s body was cremated, which of course makes it impossible for Scully to do her complete autopsy thang. The forensic report from the scene of Noah’s death mentions that there were no powder burns or bruising on Noah’s body, which are usually found when a person shoots themselves. The wound in Noah’s head also looks as if something had burst out of it, rather than something having been shot through it.
A description like that should mean that we are only a few pages away from some sort of brain bursting monster that you would typically find in an X-Files episode. Sadly, this issue is sans a creepy monster. The real evil in this first issue is a black corporation called Rauch Industries. Remember that word “Falu” I mentioned before? Well it is a certain shade of the color red, and it is the exact color that Rauch Industries has in its logo. Mulder finds a portable flash drive, that is falu in color, lying on the floor of Noah’s lab. The Lone Gunmen are able to take this detail and link the project Noah was working on to Rauch Industries. For the rest of the issue, Mulder tries to uncover what Noah was working on for the company and why it led to his death. All the while, Mulder becomes more paranoid and disheveled.
On the second to last page, Byers from the Lone Gunmen calls Scully, warning her that there might be a dangerous substance on the flash drive that Mudler found. The “To Be Continued” shows up right when Skinner is trying to get into Mulder’s apartment. Inside, Mulder has his gun drawn and is staring at his decaying reflection in the mirror. Pretty freaking creepy.
To be honest, I am glad that Spotnitz focused on a black corporation in this first story arc as opposed to anything dealing with aliens. I am always telling people that the public consciousness shifted since 9/11. Before 2000, and before September eleventh, a good portion of entertainment media focused on the idea of government conspiracies. The X-Files was the cause of this trend to question government authority. It was the catalyst to the proverbial snowball rolling down the mountain side. Around that time, conspiracy nuts could be found preaching on prime-time television shows at least once a week. There was a public obsession with Area 51, Big Foot and secret societies.
This way of thinking went the way of the Dodo in the post-9/11 world. Nowadays, the idea of questioning a corrupt government about what they are hiding from us is only really mentioned on websites that are outside of mainstream consciousness. The X-Files Issue #1 is a nice reminder of those good old (paranoid) days. This book is a treat.
Whether Spotnitz and Denham are huge X-Files fans or they were forced to watch a lot of episodes of the show, they get it right. Everything is authentic, from the layout of Mulder’s office, to the dialogue between each of the Lone Gunmen. Fans of the show will pick up on all of these small details and will also marvel at the fact that the action in each of Denham’s panels matches the camera work and color scheme of an X-Files episode. The book looks like a collection of still frames from an X-Files episode that was never aired. With any luck, Wildstorm will package this series in the same way that Dark Horse packaged the comic book form of BUFF THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON EIGHT. This could be a quality continuation of the adventures of Mulder and Scully.