The covers: A surprising threesome with two done in a fashion not seen before on this series. The Regular cover is by Francesco Francavilla with a robed figure hunched over a parchment by candlelight. He is about to write something down, perhaps pertaining to the “MISSING” photos of Agents Doggett and Reyes. The gigantic X filled with stars cuts the background of the underground lair into pieces. Is this two different time periods or one? It’s a mysterious image and one well suited for this issue. The Artist’s Edition cover is by Tom Mandrake who did a sensational job when The X-Files had a crossover with 30 Days of Night. This black and white image showcases Mandrake’s fantastic ability to do realism with horror by having Mulder and Scully standing their ground on an X as five of their most infamous foes surround them. Simply gorgeous work! The Subscription cover is, for the first time, a blank sketch cover one could take to a convention to get signatures of the contributors to this issue or have an artist create an original illustration. I love this idea, and the Artist’s Edition Concept, and hope they both expand to other IDW books. Overall grades: Regular A-, AE A+, and Subscription A-
The story: Sioux Falls, South Dakota on a farm in the middle of nowhere. A man wakes up and makes himself breakfast. His face is not shown once. He also makes and sets a plate for someone who doesn’t join him. After finishing his meal, he picks up the other plate and goes down the hall, pushing open a hidden entrance to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs he pulls down a set of keys next to two FBI badges, one of which belongs to Monica Reyes. She sits huddled in the darkness. He tells her, “They’ll be here soon, Agent Reyes…It’s almost time, Monica…” He closes the door and goes outside to make a startling pick up in town. “Monica & John” is an overdue story from Joe Harris. I don’t say this in any negative way, I say this because this is a story that needed to be told. Reyes and Doggett appeared earlier in this series, but their fates were never given. I, like most readers, was caught up in the joy at having new adventures of Mulder and Scully. The fans’ neglect let these two agents be forgotten and now Harris shows what the effects of that neglect bring. When I saw who the antagonist truly was on Page 13 I felt a chill wash over me, knowing what this character could do to our heroes. The emotion on 16 was great, for who else could this pair ever depend on? Page 20 was a brutal shock, yet absolutely true to that individual’s character, which only makes the final three words of the book stronger. A great resolution, at last. Overall grade: A+
The art: This story would be desirable by any artist because the visuals have to tell so much of the story, and the first three and a half pages do so without any words. Matthew Dow Smith does a great job in putting the creepy with the normal. The antagonist’s morning routine shifts into the frightening so easily because of he art. The transition between Pages 3 and 4 is dramatic and shifts the tension into overdrive before a word is ever spoken. The bottom panel on 5 cements the horror of the situation. The two page flashback sequence is a brutal reminder of Daggett’s last appearance and it, too, leads to a jarring transition to one agent’s fate. The bottom of 16 pushed me completely over the edge in wanting justice and retribution for what’s been done, yet I was still floored by Page 20. Terrific work is also done on all the likenesses. That’s a good word to sum up Smith’s work on this issue: terrific. Overall grade: A
The colors: Terrific work is also found in Jordie Bellaire’s contributions to this issue. The dark, plain colors of the farm were expected, but once going into the secret basement the colors go dangerously dim to show how far from the light Reyes has fallen. The use of red on Page 7 was an excellent way to alarm readers, and red was also used well on Pages 9 and 10. This bright color was completely absent on the following pages, emphasizing the agents’ conditions. The green on 20 was fantastic, and I loved the choice of color for the blanket on 21. Well done. Overall grade: A
The letters: Shawn Lee creates the iconic scene settings, sounds, dialogue, and yells in this issue. There’s a lot to pack in some panels, such as on 18, but Lee shows he can do so without eclipsing the visuals. This is how a pro does it! Overall grade: A
The final line: A fantastic tale of what happens when one is forgotten. I hope Reyes and Doggett return for more X-Files. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.