Friday, June 21, 2013

What Lurks in the Longbox? #39 - The X-Files: Season 10 #1

The X-Files Season 10 #1
IDW Publishing
$3.99, color, 22 pgs.
Writers: Joe Harris, Chris Carter
Artist: Michael Walsh

The truth is out there, once again.

For the fourth time since the mid-1990's, The X-Files, one of the longest running science fiction television programs, has been adapted into comic book form.  However, this new ongoing series from IDW Publishing takes the property in a different direction than what was done with the prior three adaptations. 

Like the TV series, the Topps comic book alternated between "mythology" tales (stories focusing on the government conspiracy to cover up the truth about alien races and their agenda), and what has been referred to as "monster of the week" stories, which were usually stand-alone episodes about supernatural phenomena, genetic mutations and serial killers with unusual abilities.  The comic was launched during the peak of "X-Files Mania" and generated much excitement, with the first issue quickly escalating in price on the collectors' market.  While this series featured both great writing and art (including Artist Charles Adlard, most known for Image Comics' series The Walking Dead), the creative teams were somewhat limited by how far they could take both the characters and the storylines, since the comic book was running concurrent to the Fox television series.

In 2008, Wildstorm Comics released a six issue mini-series (preceded by a single issue "special") that once again featured the characters up against horrific monsters and conspiratorial forces that sought to prevent them from discovering the "truth."  This series was released shortly after the premiere of the second X-Files movie I Want To Believe, and both the comic and the movie were met with mixed reviews.     

In 2010, Steve Niles and Tom Mandrake brought back the two F.B.I. agents in the X-Files/30 Days of Night mini-series, as Mulder and Scully faced off against the vampires of the popular horror franchise.  This time the series was a collaboration of Wildstorm Comics and IDW Publishing.  While not linked to any specific season, the story appeared to take place early on in the duo's adventures, as evidenced by Scully's continual specticism of Mulder's theories, which all but disappeared in later seasons of the program. 

In this newest iteration, the creative team of Joe Harris and Michael Walsh have taken a similiar route to what Dark Horse did a few years ago with Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight.  This new series launches as the official "Season 10," with canonical stories that take place after the series finale and two movies.  "Believers" begins with showing readers where Mulder and Scully's lives have taken them after the end of their careers as government agents.  There is life after the F.B.I., but it may not necessarily be what readers were expecting.

Dana Scully has returned to her medical career, working at a Virginia medical clinic under the assumed name of Dr. Dana Blake.  While she seeks to distance herself from everything associated with The X-Files, Spotsylvania County is an interesting choice for her relocation (in real life, the county is actually close enough for many commuters that work in Washington, D.C.).  At the same time, Fox Mulder appears happy to be lost in suburbia, at least on the surface.  However, there's no mistaking that infamous "I Want To Believe" poster that spent nine years hanging on the wall of his workplace, and is now taking up residence in his home office.  The first issue also features the return of fan-favorite character Walter Skinner, who has since been promoted to Deputy Director at the F.B.I.

The first issue is compelling, suspenseful, and brings back that great "spooky" feeling that viewers would experience during the earlier seasons.  It even includes the standard "teaser" scene that would usually precede the opening credits of each episode.  Joe Harris delivers a great first issue, diving right into the story and placing all three characters in immediate peril by a sinister threat as yet unrevealed.  His enthusiasm for the series is undeniable, especially given his recent appearance at Heroes Con in North Carolina earlier this month, where he enthusiastically promoted the first issue to fans.  At the same time, Michael Walsh's art style is perfectly suited for this series, with a similiar approach to the way Stefan Petrucha drew the characters in the original Topps series, but still with an unique style all his own. 

With an exciting cliffhanger closing out the premiere issue, this new ongoing series is already off to a great start.  Although a lot happens in the first 22 pages, there are just as many questions as there are answers, which is exactly how The X-Files should be.

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