The X-Files #1

Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Matthew Dow Smith
Colorist: by Jordie Bellaire

A review by Adrian Hodgkiss

xfiles 1Having never read an X-Files comic book I had no idea what to expect from this new first edition of a new series. The X-Files last run-season 11-had ended rather early compared to its predecessors in February of this year. This new series appears to have dropped the “season 12” moniker and is just #1 of a new series. Rather helpfully, and in a well worn trope of the source material’s format, here is how the book introduces itself.

“Previously on The X-Files…

For years, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully toiled in the X-Files Unit, a one-office division of the Bureau dealing with cases deemed unsolvable and related to unexplained phenomena. Eventually, both agents left the FBI and began new lives in peaceful anonymity. However, recent events prompted them to return to the Bureau and the X-Files.”

This could easily have been the intro to the recent  limited-run revival of the television series and I think it definitely works. As I have already said, I’ve never read an X-Files comic book and, if I’m honest, I tend to avoid comic adaptations of licensed properties on the whole. If this book is anything to go by then I may have to rethink my feelings on this: there is a lot to enjoy here.

From the very beginning our two protagonists Mulder and Scully (as if you didn’t know) are thrust into a chaotic and bloody scene of a mass shooting in a shopping mall. The question we and our heroes are asking is why have the X-Files team been sent to what is a tragic but not supernatural event? There in lies the mystery, the mania which lead to the shooting seems to pass from one person to the next causing there eyes to glow and talk about mysterious holes in the sky and the fact we are being watched. The book finishes before the mystery is solved and I was left wanting more and a very real possibility I will be picking up #2!

The overall feel of the book is one very familiar to me. The X-Files television show was a mainstay in my household from its beginnings in 1993 until it’s eventual end and then recent reprisal. The show in my opinion was always at it’s best when it had a “monster of the week” episodic feel and although this is clearly part of an on-going mystery, the same vibe was there with the characters behaving within the parameters of their already  well worn roles. Mulder is world weary and skeptical, Scully is pragmatic and practical just as you would want them to be. For me it was like a chance meeting with old friends from my youth.

Joe Harris has been working on The X-Files comics for sometime and it shows. He is adept at encapsulating the feeling of the TV show and the characters with his script which is concise and not overly wordy.  The art is graphic with lots of shadow and shading to mirror the overall tone and feel of the book and the story as it unfolds. The panels themselves are laid out in a fairly ordinary and functional manner with 4 to 5 large panels per page. Within these large panels however, we are given a variety of wide establishing shots and character close ups which only add to the visual or cinematic feeling. This could easily be an episode of  TV show drawn and coloured beat for  beat. The character likenesses are on the whole very good and as with Harris, Matthew Dow Smith has been on The X-Files book for some time too, so his ability to draw David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson is by now probably unparalleled.  Jordie Bellaire does a good job with the colours too, as always! The book does have an overall muted dullness to it’s colour pallet with splashes of colour here and there. Again, this suits the book and the genre, techni-colour FBI agents at a mass shooting just wouldn’t work here!

The Verdict
I enjoyed this book a lot! I had  no idea what to expect and was more than pleasantly surprised. I didn’t feel at all lost despite having never read the series before. As long as you have a working knowledge of the TV show I’d say give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised too.

Adrian Hodgkiss

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