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The X-Files: Season 10 (IDW) #9 – Chitter (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.

Chitter is an interesting single-issue story.

In many ways, Chitter feels very much like a throwback. It is a “monster of the week” story, the first such story to be written by Joe Harris focusing on an original creation. In fact, Harris acknowledged as much on his blog, remarking, “It’s my first, original ‘Monster of the Month’ (a term I’m taking sole credit for) story and it’s utterly disgusting, I’m sorry.” Although the plot includes a few nods towards the overarching themes of The X-Files: Season 10, the story stands almost completely alone. It would be possible to skip the issue entirely without missing much of importance.

Bugging out...

Bugging out…

This is very much an oddity in terms of The X-Files: Season 10, a monthly comic book series that has been very focused on the mythology and continuity of The X-Files. The first eight issues of the series were given over to threads dangling from the original show, whether the continuation of the mythology in Believers or the fate of the Fluke Man in Hosts or the origin of Mister X in Being for the Benefit of Mister X. This is the first time that the comic book has told a story that feels self-contained and truly standalone.

There is something very refreshing in that, with Harris constructing a story that feels very much in keeping with the tone and mood of The X-Files without relying on specific details. In many ways, it feels more like a classic episode than any of the previous issues. More than that, it actually feels very much like one of the early X-Files comics written for Topps by writers like Stefan Petrucha or John Rozum. It is a very strong piece of work.

Crawl good...

Crawl good…

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The X-Files – D.P.O. (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

What is interesting about the third season of The X-Files is the way that everything seemed to click into place. After two years of figuring out how various parts of the show worked, the series was in a place where it worked like a finely-honed machine. The conspiracy episodes hit all the right boxes. The second season had demonstrated the show could do experimental or even humourous episodes. Even the standard “monster of the week” shows were delivered with more confidence and style.

While D.P.O. may not be the strongest episode of the third season, it is an example of how comfortable the show has become. It is an episode that move incredibly well, where the vast majority of the pieces click, and one which is fondly remembered by the fan base. There’s a very serious argument to be made that writer Howard Gordon was the best author of “monster of the week” scripts working on the show at this point, and D.P.O. demonstrates how well he crafts these sorts of stories.

Cooking up a storm...

Cooking up a storm…

D.P.O. also benefits from any number of elements that make it seem memorable, even if it is “business as usual” after a massive three-part conspiracy epic. The opening sequence – featuring Ring the Bells by James – is one of the first times the show has so successfully integrated music into its action, something that would become a memorable part of later shows and even Millennium. The guest cast features Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black. The episode also perfectly captures teen angst in an insightful manner.

The show was apparently drawn from an index card labelled “lightning boy”, which had been on Chris Carter’s white board since the first season. It’s very hard to imagine the show pulling off something like D.P.O. during its first season. While it might have worked towards the end of the second season, the start of the third season seems the perfect place for it.

Cloudy with a chance of angst...

Cloudy with a chance of angst…

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The X-Files (Topps) #2 – A Dismembrance of Things Past (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

A Dismembrance of Things Past is an absolute delight, and a nice demonstration of how well writer Stefan Petrucha and Charles Adlard could tell stories set within The X-Files universe.

There are many interesting things about A Dismembrance of Things Past. It’s a fine piece of work, deftly balancing the demands on a new comic book set within the world of The X-Files with an urge to tell a story that fits very clearly and very comfortably within the show’s basic structure. It is easy to imagine A Dismembrance of Things Past receiving a live-action adaptation. Indeed, Petrucha’s script feels like something of a tribute to writer Darin Morgan before Darin Morgan had even written for the show, half-way between Blood and José Chung’s “From Outer Space.”

Something to remember them by...

Something to remember them by…

A Dismembrance of Things Past confronts the difficulties of writing a tie-in comic book to The X-Files, while using those constraints to tell an interesting story in its own right. After all, the comic book would have to tell an alien or U.F.O. story eventually. The words “The X-Files” are written on the cover, and that comes with the territory. At the same time, Petrucha and Adlard have to acknowledge the fact that the tie-in comic book cannot advance the on-screen mythology arc. Indeed, it seems unlikely Carter had shared too much of that arc with Petrucha or Adlard.

It takes a lot of skill to balance these competing demands of a tie-in comic book – to remain connected to the source material, but never pulling too far away or ahead, while remaining interesting. A Dismembrance of Things Past manages to satisfy all of its obligations and then some.

Through alien eyes...

Through alien eyes…

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