So apparently I missed the memo about the last issue not being the start of mythology-oriented arc, because this month features a monster-of-the-week tale. Harris knocked it out of the park the last time we had one of those, so I cracked this one open with quite a bit of giddy anticipation. Is it good?
The X-Files: Season 10 #9 (IDW Publishing)
The story begins with a ‘cold open’ that would make just about anyone run out to buy the biggest can of Raid they could find. An infestation of incredibly friendly cockroaches is shown attacking a man named Milton (who looks like an older, more realistic version of Dale Gribble from King of the Hill). The disgusting insects’ presence is eerily announced by a repetitive “CHT CHT CHT” sound along with snippets of vague exposition and Milton screaming his head off.
“Stop trying to tell me that Nancy is cheating on me with Redcorn!”
The story then switches to the same location, but this time as crime scene/potential standoff. Fresh off seeing one of his old contacts horribly mutated and back from the grave in the last issue (only to immediately die again), Mulder is back to cracking jokes with Scully and adorably subverting authority. But the combination of stuff getting weird and Scully almost passing out for unknown reasons snaps him back into FBI mode…right as Milton stumbles outside and asks the assembled task force to kill him.
While the FBI questions the bug victim as a suspect in multiple disappearances (and unsurprisingly discovers that he has a creepy crawlspace inside his house), Scully becomes the next target of the bugs’ attention.
Revelation of a possible religious motive for the bug killings and a chance interview with one of Milton’s neighbors leads Scully into danger. It’s then up to Mulder to save Scully along with the story’s narrative…and only one will survive (you can probably guess which did).
Spoiler Alert: It’s the hot one.
Is It Good?
With the Flukeman arc, Joe Harris proved that he could create a classic monster-of-the-week style story that still managed to remain fresh and exciting. This one, unfortunately, couldn’t have been more formulaic if it tried.
Aside from the story’s “twist” being painfully obvious, the plot drags along like a paint by numbers X-Files episode. Making matters worse is that instead of utilizing the freedom and benefits of the story being in comic form, the limitations presented by it not being a television show are highlighted, instead. What should have been instances of subtle foreshadowing became sledgehammer blows to the head that gave away the story’s ending. Moments meant to establish a creepy atmosphere ended up feeling stale and boring, instead.
On the positive side, the art by Greg Scott is good. Even though I like Walsh’s artwork a bit more (especially with regards to movement), I feel like Scott’s pencils “fit” the X-Files universe much better.
It should also be noted that even the worst X-Files issue from Joe Harris (of which this definitely qualifies for consideration) is still not completely terrible. But he’s proven on plenty other occasions to be capable of so much more.