Issue #21 brings us a new arc heavily steeped in X-Files mythology. Is it good?
The X-Files: Season 10 #21 (IDW Publishing)
Remember ‘The Syndicate?’ If not, then you might be a little lost. But if you do remember them…THEY’RE BACK!
Still lost? Okay, don’t worry. This is actually kind of cool.
If you’ve been reading the series for a while, you know that the Cigarette Smoking Man and a few other key figures in X-Files lore have been brought back somehow. Something about them clearly isn’t right, though (aside from their usual sociopathic, self-serving tendencies).
For starters, their blood is green. We’ve seen this before, but are reminded of it when the new dude pulling the strings ices one of them for daring to talk back to him. We don’t know who this guy is, but he’s dangerous and smart…in like, a seriously meta way.
There’s also a chance that the ‘green blood’ is actually just the result of his victims crapping their pants.
After chewing out CSM and the others, he gives a spot on soliloquy about how their cloak and dagger days are not only over, but completely obsolete. Information is too readily available. It’s time to go public with…something menacing. He doesn’t say.
Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully are enjoying a day of playing hooky at the fair. Unfortunately, their date is catastrophically ruined when a woman in the crowd calls out Mulder’s name, blames him for something vague, and begins indiscriminately shooting and killing people. After taking out a handful of innocent bystanders, she puts a bullet through her own head.
Since this isn’t the 1990’s, the camera phones were out in force, recording her every action and statement. News (and ‘news’) organizations are already jumping on the incident, as well, digging up information and speculating about how she might be linked to an FBI agent named Fox Mulder. For his part, Mulder claims she looks familiar, but only as a former interview subject who killed herself almost 25 years ago. All of this brings down a heap of trouble on his head, both from a PR and official standpoint.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, the issue ends with Mulder being kidnapped by Syndicate members.
Is It Good?
I’ve been pretty hard on this series when it comes to mythology issues, but Harris totally nailed it this time. He even managed to use one of the things I’ve the most critical about—bringing back a string of dead characters from the show—and turned it into an intriguing plot point.
What he does best in this one, however, is the world building. The X-Files doesn’t exist in an analogue universe anymore. The things that happened on the show we all watched 20 years ago wouldn’t remain confined to their local origin points. Information (and misinformation) spreads at an exponentially faster speed. Everything is recorded and everyone can be investigated by the public, including a clandestine FBI agent.
In addition to the great setting, Harris also offers us a villain who is fully aware of the new paradigm facing his organization. He’s not content to just be mysterious and evil while rubbing his hands together inside a smoke filled room. This guy is proactive—he’s making really bad things happen and using things the Syndicate would consider to be a handicap to his advantage.
And speaking of The Syndicate, how cool is it to be rooting for CSM? It feels weird…but kind of good. It was also a brilliant decision to make an old school, beloved character like him our new villain’s primary frenemy.
There’s still plenty that can go wrong with a mythology story like this, but Harris/Smith knocked the opening chapter out of the park. If they keep this up, I just might become a believer again, myself.