In Review: The X-Files: Season 11 #2

The most infamous episode of the series inspires a worthy cringe inducing sequel.

The covers: Three covers that scream intensity. The Regular cover is by Menton3. This features a tight close-up of a pale faced man emerging from the darkness. His pale blue eyes are the only color in the image. If one were to be greeted by this visage, it would most likely be the last thing seen. Creepy as hell. The Subscription cover is by Hi-Fi Colors very own Brian Miller. Against a wrinkled and folded black tapestry, the predominant image is a red shovel that drips blood. A red, jagged line meets in the center of the tool to form a house with a single light on within. Four graves stones are in the home’s front yard. Two giant white eyes are at the top of the shovel, making the graves appear to be broken teeth. This is a nice symbolic cover that just makes me shudder the longer it’s looked at. Disturbing. The other Subscription cover is a wrap around photo cover featuring Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) discovering Mrs. Peacock. If you’re an X-Files fan, you know that name like a bullet to the head. It seems this issue is going there. I’m excited and terrified. The image is from a climatic moment from the episode “Home”, with Karin Konoval looking horrific. Overall grades: Regular A, Subscription Miller A, and Subscription photo A+

The story: Part I of “Home Again” by Joe Harris begins “675 kilometers above the Earth, six weeks ago.” Skywatch satellite contacts Earth to say that they’re being hailed. Fox Mulder sees a splash of light as he’s woken by the bus driver telling him they’ve reached his stop. He’s let off in Garden County, Nebraska. He’s not getting any indication that recently revealed baddie Gibson Praise knows where he is. Two children ask if he’s “with the drilling folks” who “make the ground shake” and “the water catches fire when it runs!” He asks where the “drilling folk” are and the pair point to a rig towering above the interior of a cornfield. Finding a man outside a trailer, Fox learns that one farm close by hasn’t leased their land to be drilled on; and that’s what he’s looking for. As he leaves, some men have gathered to surround the man he spoke with, who urges him to tell the owners of that farm “get out while the getting’s good.” As the men go back to work, a sign that says CANTUS is shown on the side of the trailer. What Mulder finds at the lone house will curdle your blood. Harris has created a worthy sequel to the most infamous episode in the series’ history. I didn’t think it was possible, but he has. Every step Mulder takes had me screaming at him to get out of there. Things for him quickly go from bad to worse, resulting in a scream-worthy cliffhanger. This isn’t a sole Mulder installment; Scully is facing her own demons, but not in the field — back at F.B.I Headquarters. She gets some assistance from steadfast Skinner, but a new character is putting the pressure on her, and it’s too soon to tell if she’s friend or foe. Her passing an envelope to Dana doesn’t make her motives any clearer. I love the danger for both characters and, as loathe as I am to admit, I love the Peacock clan. Overall grade: A+

The art: Matthew Dow Smith is a master of the layout and execution in creating tension. The opening page shows how a flashback can cause instant pause with the reader and then transition to Mulder’s “vision.” His exit from the dark, cramped bus leads to an opposite environment in the plains of Nebraska. The contrast of the drill with the cornfields is a an odd, but familiar image in America today. The layout on Page 3 is excellent, making the readers assume that Fox and the man are alone, but revealing only in the bottom panel that there are more men, and Fox seemed ignorant of them. The second panel on Page 4 is threatening, as each man has a face of stone, carved by progress and profit. There’s a huge amount of detail when Scully meets with Skinner. I liked that the pair didn’t have their conversation on Page 6, which is where in the previous season another character would speak with Fox. Instead, the pair go elsewhere, allowing Smith to show his skill at this unique location. When the story goes back to Fox on 9, the tension began to grow. I cringed as he explored. There’s some subtle foreshadowing in the fourth panel on 12. The characters shown at the top of 13 are another foreshadowing, albeit much stronger, of what’s to come, resulting in an absolute nightmare at the bottom of the page, continuing onto 14. The darkness of 17 had horror reaching out of every corner, with 20 being monstrous. This was grotesque, inspiring chills for those who’ve seen “Home”, and creating horror for those that have yet to bear witness to it. Smith aced this issue with graphic perfection. Overall grade: A+

The colors: There are some things I just don’t want to see in the light. Glimpses provide enough horror for me to realize that seeing too much would send me over the edge. The Peacock clan inspires such feelings. With this story focusing on their return, colorist Jordie Bellaire waits for just the right emotional moment to show readers the unspeakable. The first page has a nice filter for the past, provided by Mulder’s sleep, until exploding in a blast of colors when he awakens. Trippy is the right word for that bottom panel on 1. The bus is doom and gloom in black and dark blue, which explodes into the colors of a bright day (and I love that the two children that direct Mulder consists of a boy with brown hair and girl with red — the future Mulder and Scully?). Because of Smith’s excellent use of black, Bellaire really gets to have images explode in colors when the time is ripe. Colors begin to lighten with a character’s appearance on 11, and then the most disturbing pink appears at the top and bottom of 13. The darkness returns on 17 with only skin colors and eyes lighting up panels, until the reveal on 20. I’m squirmy just looking at the flesh colors on 20. Bellaire completes the disturbing imagery of this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: A space transmission and dialogue (the same font), the iconic scene setting from the series, CANTUS’ logo, opening story title, sounds, snorts, a behemoth’s syllabic speech, and the tease for next issue are done by Chris Mowry. The dialogue balloons are changed in shape to evoke tones, rather than use a different font. I would have preferred to have Mowry use a different font, but what’s done is fine. Overall grade: B+ 

The final line: The most infamous episode of the series inspires a worthy cringe inducing sequel. Hold on to something: this is going to turn your stomach. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five 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.
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