The X-Files #1
Written by Joe Harris
Art by Matthew Dow Smith
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Chris Mowry
Review by Joey Braccino
“Nothing says true love like coordinating shifts at a fast-food shoot out.”
After the show’s successful return to Fox this past January, it was only a matter of time before IDW launched another X-Files comic book, this time with returning creators writer Joe Harris and the stellar art team of Matthew Dow Smith and Jordie Bellaire. The publisher has found success with the franchise before, with Harris writing the long-running X-Files: Season 10 and Harris, Smith, and Bellaire running the more recent X-Files: Season 11 mini-series that ran concurrently with the new season. And yet, even more so than those previous runs, this new X-Files book feels more in line with what’s going on in the show and, by extension, more akin to the Mulder and Scully adventures that fans will immediately recognize and love.
One thing going for this new series is the declaration that the storyline is couched within the continuity established in the recent season that aired on Fox. This doesn’t feel like an alternate continuation or departure from the show, but rather a legitimate extension of the storylines that we invest our viewing time to. With that in mind, there is an immediacy and weight added to what happens on the panels. Maybe we’ll get some more insight into those crazy cliffhangers and fill in the gaps of this older, wiser team of Mulder and Scully.
Regardless, given their experience working with the franchise, Harris and company have a keen grasp on the characters and the tenor of the world that Chris Carter created. This first issue feels like an episode of the series—strange and shocking cold open, Mulder and Scully get called in, weird things go down, banter-action-banter-action, strange and shocking resolution, ominous cliffhanger that might suggest things aren’t all they seem. For this particular issue, we’re dealing with the aftermath of a brutal mass shooting (which, admittedly, could be a bit triggering). Initially confused as to why they were called in to investigate, Mulder and Scully quickly discover that the causes of the shooting are much weirder than they initially believed. Furthermore, someone may be watching our agents…
Harris has a stellar grasp of our protagonists’ individual voices and characters. Mulder’s wry wit and Scully’s cool reserve pop off the page in the concise and effective character beats sprinkled throughout the issue. Unlike previous volumes, however, the age and subtle shifts in the characters evident in the recent TV season are present as well, as shown in an interaction between Scully and a possessed mother and Mulder in the issue’s climax. Harris is clearly in sync with what’s going on in Carter’s TV world, so this feels more like the X-Files than any of the previous runs.
Smith and Bellaire deliver some stunning work here in their blend of noir moodiness and hard-boiled realism. The frequent use of wide panel sequences more closely resembles a cinematic camera than more traditional layouts, and Smith’s focal points throughout the issue are unsettling and perfect. There are plenty of over-the-shoulder shots and close-ups on eyes and strange details, making for a dynamic visual experience. Given the need to blur realism and sci-fi, Bellaire’s use of muted greys and blues versus stark oranges and reds is absolutely perfect. A real cool book from cover-to-cover.
Verdict: BUY. Even more so than the recent X-Files – Season 11 mini-series, IDW’s new X-Files ongoing captures the fine balance of wry humor, strange sci-fi, and moody noir that made (makes!) the television series so iconic. Joe Harris has an exceptional grasp on our protagonists’ individual, unique voices, and Matthew Dow Smith and Jordie Bellaire deliver a dynamic visual experience from cover-to-cover. I still want to believe, and having this team on a new X-Files ongoing has me excited for what’s to come!