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The X-Files (Topps) – The Silent Blade (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.

The Silent Blade is filler – one of those short stories that Topps produced as promotional material for wider consumption. In this case, as with The Pit, The Silent Blade was written as a short story to feature in the summer issue of The X-Files Magazine.

Writing a short story is tough. In some respects, writing a nine-page comic strip with a clear beginning, middle and end is harder than plotting a full-length issue or an entire arc. There is only so much space available, particularly when dealing with an exposition-heavy franchise like The X-Files. It can be tough to fit all the necessary ingredients in, let alone to put a novel twist on them. The temptation is to try to do too much with so little.

He won't be drawn on the matter...

He won’t be drawn on the matter…

Writer Stefan Petrucha and artist Charles Adlard had generally done well by their short stories, treating them as light and throwaway. They were not the strongest stories of the run, but they were aware of the limitations of the format and the expectations of the target audience. They were functional pieces of writing, aware of the limitations of the form. John Rozum’s first (and only) abridged X-Files story strains against those limitations.

After all, Rozum’s script for Thin Air had tried to fit too much into a full-length issue, so it makes sense that The Silent Blade is also a little too busy for its own good. This would be the last feature that Topps would produce for The X-Files Magazine, and the last of these sorts of short stories.

You have to do a lot of cutting to make a story this tight...

You have to do a lot of cutting to make a story this tight…

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