The X-Files comic is back for season 11 and I've got issue #1. Let's take a look.
The first thing you're going to have to get used to is the baroque styling of the artwork. I don't mean baroque in the classic sense where there is a profusion of detail, rather, it is the counterpoint of shadow that is used to heighten dramatic tension. (Page one provided above.)
You could argue this intense use of shadow serves the mood of an X-Files "episode" well. The original TV series was shot in the Vancouver area and the dank/damp northwest set provided the X-Files with the mood it needed. Many argued that mood was lost when production moved to L.A..
I, for one,was not a fan of the artwork provided here. I found the use of shadow overwrought and distracting. The book's artist is Matthew Dow Smith and the colors were provided by Jordie Bellaire. Bellaire must have been paid at minimum scale because color was not this comic's strong suit.
Another thing to get used to is Mulder with a mustache. Now that's spooky. Not to worry. Although he spends much of the comic with the "stache" it is just part of a clever disguise.
This would probably be a good time to introduce the rest of our characters .
Naturally, Scully is on board.
Thankfully, The Lone Gunmen are present and accounted for. Skinner gets a mention and we have a new bete noir.
Praise is not new to the comic. Apparently, he was a large part of "season 10" of the book. Here's how he is introduced to start season 11 and his relationship with the X-Files.
"...Mulder has seen his work with the FBI discredited and has found himself a fugitive from the U.S. government - all thanks to the machinations of a former ally, Gibson Praise, who now weilds powers far beyond what even Mulder can imagine."
And so, therein lies our story.
Mulder, under the pseudonym of Anthony Blake a character played by Bill Bixby back in the seventies and known for his sleight of hand, has a lead on the downed satellite and is joined by a team of scavengers anxious to get their hands on the communication array of the Medici 3 satellite.
Simultaneously, Agent Dana Scully is sitting before an investigative board of the FBI led by Director Morales while Deputy Director Skinner is on administrative leave. Scully is before the board defending Mulder while he is on the run from the FBI although she hasn't seen him in two months.
Writer Harris sets us on a couple of flashbacks with Scully to set the stage for her and Mulder's separation. It seems Mulder hasn't kept his appointments and forgone any communication.
The chronological flips Harris employs is something we've seen plenty of on TV. I'm not a fan of this either but it seems to be a popular story telling trope this day and age and it doesn't subtract too badly from the narrative stream.
Still, not a fan.
While Mulder and Scully pursue their goals separated by a continent both come in contact with the mysterious Cantus group to some degree. We're informed by Director Morales that Cantus is merely a consultancy and efficiency contractor for the FBI but as Morales speaks we find Mulder's group has been compromised and Morales' board is under attack.
Jasco, a coworker of Mulder's, pulls a knife on him while Morales suffers an ischemic incident. A mysterious "off screen" voice speaks to both Mulder and Scully. We don't know the nature of the voice, whether telepathic or by radio via earpiece, but we're led to believe it comes from Gibson Praise.
Praise tells our X-Files team to basically stay on target while their world spins out of control around them. Mulder is spared Jasco's attack by a pack of wolves (I'm not kidding) and Scully is forced to call 911 while Morales dies before her and the rest of the board passes out.
Later, Scully finds and confronts Praise in Mulder's old office. (The "Truth is Out There" poster still in intact. Woo!) Like Mulder she survives her encounter although it's a mystery why, while disarmed by Praise, she doesn't attack him hand to hand and try to apprehend him that way.
Mulder meets up with the Lone Gunmen (with trusty VW van in tow) and Langly closes the narrative loop by showing us how far the evil reach of Cantus extends.
Cantus has corrupted the Medici 3 software and downed the satellite after it received a communication from deep space.
So the stage is set for our mysterious adventure to begin.
We've got a malevolent figure in Praise and a shadowy government organization in Cantus pulling the strings while our underdog overachievers matches wits with them.
I mean, in the old series we had the Smoking Man and his endless supply of Men in Black so this is hardly new ground.
Harris seeks to renew our interest in the vast government conspiracy while an untouchable rogue remains just out of reach. The reintroduction of many of our old favorite characters is welcome but the chronological and set placement "sleight of hand" is a little dizzying.
Our storyteller is just scratching the surface and I'm sure he has a long way to go but I'm a little worried we've been here before.
In fact, I think Harris is speaking through Mulder when he says in the penultimate panel....
Trust is earned Mr. Harris but I'll see you next issue!