I won’t lie: I’ve missed the X-Files. And in many ways issue #2 of X-Files: Season 10 delivers everything my nerdy heart had longed for. It’s a big old reunion book, with page-after-page of character re-introductions, and the return of long lost friends. So why aren’t I happy? Maybe because what I really missed was a well paced story. And issue #2 missed the mark.
Here’s the official word from IDW:
In the opening story arc, “Believers,” readers will catch up with Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, living normal lives together under secret identities. However, a visit from an old friend threatens to rip them from suburban anonymity, as they learn that someone is preying upon everyone involved in THE X-FILES.
In issue #2 we have five — FIVE! — old-school X-Files characters returning from the syndication graveyard, just so they can plug into the ongoing “Believers” plot. And don’t get me wrong: I love all these guys; I do. But one of the things I loved most about the original series was its ability to delicately extend a plot line for maximum effect. As viewers, we were teased. We were made promises in one episode that wouldn’t be kept until later in the season, or even longer. While some might have criticized the glacial pacing of the series’ mega-narrative, and the slow reveal of various signature characters, it kept us hooked for years (think the Smoking Man).
Issue #2 has none of that careful pacing. Joe Harris bum-rushes with so many long lost characters that you never get to really savor each individual return. The story feels like an afterthought as a result. That said, for a comic that purporting to be season 10, Harris does a good job of keeping the momentum of the show going — the plot references retired continuities, and is clearly reaching towards mysteries from the past. It’s hard not to like what Harris is doing, even if the issue feels busier than it needs to be.
Michael Walsh’s art feels a little sketchier and bit more rushed than before, but still quite satisfying. All the signature characters are recognizable; the creepy-ass Acolytes still look creepy, and he does a good job of illustrating a cemetery at night — a sorta prerequisite for anyone wanting to take this title on.
Overall issue X-Files #2 is an enjoyable read, but mostly for the memories it evokes, and not so much for the new story it’s developing. Now that the gang is back together, let’s hope IDW can shift towards what made X-Files spectacular in the first place: plot.
Max Delgado is the founder and curator of The Longbox Project (@LongBoxProject), a memory project where comics are both inspiration and point of departure. You can check it out here.