Once upon a time, on Sunday nights on the Fox network, after all the wonderful-ness of The Simpsons, came a show that my father, sister and I could not wait to watch. This show was, and maybe for a diminishing number of fans is, a televised cultural and pop phenomena (cover of the Rolling Stone folks, when that meant something) that had that magnetism for sci-fi/fantasy/horror fans, and often had the added bonus of creeping you out or scaring the bejeezus out of you. That show was The X-Files.
“The X-Files Season 10 #1” continues what I believe is a trend that the comics medium can do well sometimes in keeping narrative properties of different mediums alive, with the caveat that the stories often in capable hands (IDW Publishing has shown great success with this current volume of Doctor Who comics featuring the 11th Doctor). The X-Files joins the comic adaptation lazarus pit of properties like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and if you are new to the story here is a brief primer– Influenced heavily by a now cult-level show Kolchack: The Night Stalker from the 1970s (also available on Netflix instant watch for the curious), The X-Files has a simple premise. F.B.I. agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully work together every week to hunt down the unexplainable and unsolvable cases that fall off the radar. That simple premise though had some nifty layers, mixing in elements and story beats of shadowy governmental conspiracies, general occult/supernatural elements, and some bio-chemical madness here and there, while adding a great pinch of visual shadow play to create a potent alchemy. So does this inaugural issue pick up nicely where we (fans of the show) last saw Mulder and Scully?
My bias is already showing through in this write-up, so yes, it works. Reading this issue is like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. The story, with a credit to series creator Chris Carter and Joe Harris, is right off the original series, introducing a five-part arc that has a strong village of the damned vibe about it. (I don’t want to say too much; again, I don’t want to spoil things for fans.) The artwork of Michael Walsh and colors of critical favorite Jordie Bellaire remind me of the original visual tone of some of the best episodes, utilizing darkness and shadows in tense moments and balancing some very nice emotive characterization based on the real actors faces (i.e., David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson).
Is this a comic that is accessible for new readers? Maybe. I think the nice introductory bit on the inside cover and some smart compact writing not only introduces the main players, but also adds some interesting emotional background (again, no spoilers), I think this story will probably arouse interest in folks to go back and maybe watch some of the show or even do a quick and dirty Wikipedia or fan page search to fill in some blanks. But that would be a shame, so I think I would encourage people to watch a few episodes. IDW Publishing finally has a property to rival Buffy, and I will be interested to see if the original creative forces of The X-Files can negotiate translating mediums to bring something new to a fictional world that may still have a few good stories yet to tell for those of us who indeed still want to believe.