Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

The X-Files: Season 11 (IDW) (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

The X-Files: Season 11 is a relatively lean beast.

The X-Files: Season 10 seemed to struggle to map out a clear direction or identity for itself. This was most obvious in the context of the comic book’s mythology, as writer Joe Harris and his collaborators frequently found themselves revising and rewriting the mythology from one story to the next. All the elements introduced in Believers were reduced to a footnote in Monica & John. Although Gibson Praise made his first reappearance in the final pages of Believers, the mythology only truly galvinised around him over the course of Elders.

xfiles-endgames1

In contrast, The X-Files: Season 11 has a very clear idea of where it is going and room for a minimal amount of distractions along the way. While the art team on Season 10 changed quite frequently, the nine comic book issues that comprise Season 11 are all handled by the core team of writer Joe Harris, penciller Matthew Dow Smith and colourist Jordie Bellaire. There is a consistency and focus to the run that is striking. There is no time for exploration or improvisation. Everything serves its purpose in the context of the story being told.

This is a double-edged sword. While it does reduce the chance of an endearing standalone story like Chitter or Immaculate, it does afford the run a purity and energy that was somewhat lacking as Harris had to revise and rewrite his mythology while the revival miniseries moved closer and closer to public announcement. In some respects, Season 11 feels kind of like the version of The X-Files that some fans wanted when the revival was announced. It is an efficient attempt to resolve dangling plot threads and bring closure to the story being told.

xfiles-homeagain2

Continue reading

Advertisements

The X-Files Deviations (IDW) #1 – Being and Time (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

Being and Time is not a good comic book.

There are a number of reasons why the comic doesn’t work, but the simple fact of the matter is that it has an interesting premise but does little of interest with that premise. Nevertheless, there is something quite intriguing the set-up, an “out-of-continuity” tale that offers a glimpse of a parallel universe where Fox Mulder was abducted in the place of his sister Samantha. More to the point, it seems entirely telling that the only supplemental X-Files comic to be published by IDW during the entirety of The X-Files: Season 11 was one entirely outside continuity.

What might have been.

What might have been.

Continue reading

The X-Files: Season 11 (IDW) #6-8 – Endgames (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

With Endgames, it all comes to an end.

The grand epic story that writer Joe Harris had built across thirty-five issues of The X-Files: Season 10 and The X-Files: Season 11 comes to a close with this three-part story. Given that the default length of a mythology-heavy story in Season 10 was five issues, Endgames cannot help but feel somewhat truncated. However, there has always been a sense that Season 11 is winding down rather than ratcheting up.

Alien nation.

Alien nation.

In some ways, Endgames suffers from being overly ambitious. Harris reintroduced the faceless rebels into his mythology with My Name is Gibson and The X-Files Christmas Special 2015, but they feel like they crowd out what is otherwise a straightforward confrontation with Mulder and Scully squaring off against Gibson Praise. It is in some ways disappointing that all of Gibson’s plans build to a handful of trucks in the desert.

And, yet, in spite of that, there is something oddly charming about Endgames. The three-parter might be a compromised twist on the ending that Joe Harris originally envisaged for his massive epic, but it is still an ending.

Full circle.

Full circle.

Continue reading

The X-Files (IDW) Christmas Special 2015 (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

Nothing gives a better sense of how compressed The X-Files: Season 11 is than the decision to incorporate The X-Files Christmas Special 2015 into the larger arc of the season, as a bridge between Mulder’s capture at the end of Home Again, his detention in My Name is Gibson, and his adventuring with Scully in Endgames. Although it might be possible for readers to smoothly jump from the climax of My Name is Gibson into the high-stakes action of Endgames, the events of The X-Files Christmas Special 2015 smooth the transition.

Arriving late in the run of The X-Files: Season 10, The X-Files Christmas Special 2014 felt almost like an “out of continuity” adventure that found the cast sharing the holiday season together in the apartment of Walter Skinner. The festive levity provided a nice contrast to the trauma regularly inflicted upon these characters, providing a much lighter story in the spirit of the season. In contrast, The X-Files Christmas Special 2015 struggles to balance the lighter tone expected of a Christmas special with the demands of the larger arc.

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

Continue reading

The X-Files: Season 11 (IDW) #5 – My Name is Gibson (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

It feels like Season 11 was barely getting started before it started winding down.

There is a leanness to Season 11, as if the eight-issue series exists primarily to wrap up all the loose ends spinning out of Elders so the series can be rebooted and relaunched in keeping with the new continuity established by My Struggle I. The new status quo set up in Cantus was striking. While the premise owed a lot to the set-up of Nothing Important Happened Today I and Nothing Important Happened Today II, putting Mulder on the run as a roving one-man freelance X-files division evoked The X-Files by way of Kung-Fu or The Incredible Hulk.

Bewitching.

Bewitching.

In some ways, the set-up felt like a striking homage to seventies pop culture. The wandering hero is a staple of pop culture in general, but American pop culture in particular. In the sixties, it was The Fugitive. In the eighties, it was The A-Team. Nevertheless, the set-up evokes the mood and feeling of the seventies, of a nation lost and discovering itself in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam. Setting Mulder on that particular course was a very clever story hook. The X-Files owes a lot to seventies film and television, so this set-up felt strangely appropriate.

With that in mind, it feels somewhat disappointing that the new status quo comes to a close so quickly. At the end of Home Again, Mulder is taken into custody as a fugitive. With My Name is Gibson, Joe Harris begins aligning the pieces for the climax of his three-year run on Season 10 and Season 11. It seems like Season 11 is over before it has started, which seems quite disappointing given all of the promise on display.

Chess master.

Chess master.

Continue reading

The X-Files: Season 11 (IDW) #1 – Cantus (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

The X-Files: Season 11 is a truncated season, in more than one way.

While The X-Files: Season 10 ran for twenty-five issues with two annuals, a Christmas special and three tie-in miniseries, The X-Files: Season 11 is a more modest affair. The monthly series runs for eight issues, although there is a single Christmas special thrown in for good measure. More than that, there is a very clear condensed quality to the narrative. It feels like writer Joe Harris, along with artist Matthew Dow Smith and colourist Jordie Bellaire, are racing frantically towards the finish line.

See no evil.

See no evil.

This makes a certain amount of sense. After all, The X-Files: Season 11 was not the only big news to hit the fandom in February or March 2015. The creative team had done good work reviving the nineties science-fiction franchise, but news of a fresh season of X-Files comic books was always going to pale in comparison to news that Fox had managed to bring back Chris Carter along with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny for a six-episode miniseries to air less than one year later.

The X-Files: Season 11 was always going to exist in the shadow of the louder and showier revival. In some respects, the entire eight-issue series feels like a frantic attempt to wrap up all the dangling threads set up in that initial run. It feels very much like the publisher getting its house in orders before that classic theme music plays on prime-time once again. The X-Files: Season 11 is a somewhat modest affair. Although that modesty is somewhat endearing.

On the road again.

On the road again.

Continue reading

The X-Files: Season 10 (IDW) (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

The X-Files: Season 10 is something of a mixed bag.

A significant portion of that is down to changes that took place in the background over the comic’s life cycle. When IDW first announced the series, The X-Files was largely considered to be a dead franchise with no viable future. By the time that the first arc (Believers) had wrapped up in October 2013, there were already murmurings about bringing the series back in one form or another. By the time that the second mythology arc (Pilgrims) was kicking off in April 2014, Chris Carter was already meeting with Glen Morgan to hammer it out.

xfiles-pilgrims55

By the time that the comic’s final arc (Elders) wrapped up in July 2015, the entire world had known for months that The X-Files would be coming back to television. This knowledge deflated the comic book relaunch somewhat. The X-Files: Season 10 had been launched with a “co-writer” credit for Chris Carter on the first five issues; he was afforded an “executive producer” credit on most of the rest of the line. What had been positioned as a semi-official continuation of the adventures of Mulder and Scully was swiftly reduced to a historical curiosity.

However, these developments affected more than just the perception of the series. When the comic launched, it was very much the only game in town. By the end of his first arc, Joe Harris was already forced to make concessions to the possible return of The X-Files in film and television. A lot of the mythology set up in Believers was hastily abandoned and brushed aside, with the characters even acknowledging as much in Monica & John. This put The X-Files: Season 10 at something of a disadvantage, with the sense the mythology was being rewritten on the fly.

xfiles-elders

In a way, it felt like a lot of The X-Files: Season 10 was driven by a recurring conversation about its own validity and legitimacy. In More Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man, the eponymous character tries to piece together his own fractured continuity. In Pilgrims, a clone of Alex Krycek fought desperately to assert his individuality. In Monica & John, Monica Reyes lamented being abandoned and “forgotten.” In Elders, the clones of the conspirators lament the warping of their organisation into something grotesque.

While there was something suitably clever and postmodern to all of this, there was a sense that The X-Files: Season 10 was suffocating in nostalgia and continuity. Of the twenty-five issues published, only one (Chitter) was a completely original story that did not serve the return of a familiar premise or a meditation on some past point of continuity. The classic mythology dominated the series, but even many of the standalone stories played as continuity-filling “origin stories” for classic characters and concepts.

Missing in action...

Fluke Man got a very X-Files origin story in Hosts. Mister X got a very generic origin story in Being for the Benefit of Mister X. The Cigarette-Smoking Man explored his history in More Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man. Even the classic “I Want to Believe” poster got an origin story in G-23. This is to say nothing of the fact that Hosts and More Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man were explicitly sequels to The Host and Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man. At a macro story level, The X-Files: Season 10 often felt like an exercise in nostalgia.

Which is a shame, because it really feels like writer Joe Harris has a firm grip on The X-Files. The writer has a good handling on most his characters, particularly Mulder’s sarcastic and the tragedy of the Cigarette-Smoking Man. He understands the core themes underpinning the series and even finds a way to make those themes feel contemporary in stories like Chitter and Immaculate. However, the comic feels somewhat hobbled by its insistence on keeping the mythology running. The series has its eye on the past more than the future.

xfiles-immaculate27

Continue reading