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The X-Files (Topps) #30-31 – Surrounded (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Surrounded marks the beginning of the end for Topps’ licensed X-Files tie-in comic book. There are only twelve issues remaining before Ten Thirteen would decided not to renew the contact, making this the last year for the comic. Of course, Topps would rather relentlessly milk the comic for whatever it was worth over the next year, publishing both a range of Season One adaptations and an adaptation of Kevin J. Anderson’s Ground Zero novel. They would also finally get around to releasing Stefan Petrucha and Jill Thompson’s AfterFlight graphic novel.

So there is a lot of content coming in the final year of Topps’ hold on that license. The X-Files was clearly a massive success for the newly-minted comic book wing of the company. Indeed, The X-Files was the last comic standing for Topps, and there is ample evidence that Topps was hoping to continue the line beyond The X-Files: Fight the Future, with several Season One adaptations solicited, but never published. Much like for the show itself, this was a boom time for Topps.

What's eating you?

What’s eating you?

However, the final year of the comic ultimately feels rather safe and generic. John Rozum is a competent comic writer; he understands the medium, and he knows how to play with other peoples’ toys. However, there is a sense that the comic book is really just marking time. There is very little that stands out about this last stretch of the comic; nothing which really demands to be read or to be added to the great X-Files canon. It is not bad, by any measure; it is just there.

Surrounded is a prime example of the comic book marking time. It feels like a retread of familiar ground – both for the comic book and for the parent show. When Stefan Petrucha and Charles Adlard set stories like Silent Cities of the Mind or Home of the Brave in militia compounds, they were very much ahead of the television. By the time that Surrounded was published at the end of the fourth season, the show itself had already told stories about this world in episodes like The Field Where I Died, Tunguska, Terma and Unrequited.

Shining some light on the matter...

Shining some light on the matter…

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