X-Files: Year Zero – Review

Two cases, generations apart, have disturbing similarities and potentially deadly consequences for our favorite feds. And so far the premise for X-Files Year Zero is one of the best IDW has produced so far.

Here’s the official word from IDW:

When a blue-collar worker from New Jersey passes prophetic messages to the FBI from a mysterious “Mr. Zero,” Mulder is convinced it is the same otherworldly entity that contacted the FBI through a suburban housewife in the 1940s. This similarly named “Mr. Xero” pointed the FBI toward many unusual cases, leading to the establishment of “the X-Files”!

After launching X-Files: Season 10 last fall IDW has only made one attempt at a limited series featuring the characters of this muchSTK645610 beloved cult favorite — and it was, in my opinion, sub-par. Yes, I’m talking about the crossover debacle known as X-Files Conspiracy. While the Season 10  series relaunch has been relatively successful, Conspiracy felt like a simple money grab, offering a paper thin plot that tried to pull as many different fans from as many different titles into one event. It’s for this reason that I picked up X-Files Year Zero with a bit of apprehension. The premise, from a distance, seems ripe for fumbling — writer Karl Kesel promised a script that would offer a quasi origin story of the X-Files by toggling back-and-forth between an unsolved case from the 1940s and a current case plaguing Mulder and Scully today. Adding to the oddity, the 1940s agents were (essentially) doppelgangers our our current heroes — a mismatched pair of agents with nothing to lose and everything to prove. And to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it.

But then something magical happened. It was good. Quite good, and issue #2, where Kesel allows Mr. Zero (or Xero) to engage the page are some of the creepiest and most memorable X-Files moments since IDW breathed new life into this franchise. This is, of course, a testament to Kesel’s very good writing, which finds a wonderful balance between playful and terrifying — something that’s very hard to achieve.

The art, by Vic Malhotra and Greg Scott takes an innovative approach. Each artist adopts one era, meaning the reader not only jumps between time but visual styles, too. Given the unique premise of the book, it’s effective.

X-Files Year Zero is a surprise treasure, and one you should grab today.

Author
Max Delgado is the founder and curator of The Longbox Project (@LongBoxProject), a memory project for comic geeks. You can check it out at www.thelongboxproject.com