Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Karl Kesel
Artist: Vic Malhotra, Greg Scott
Release Date: 16th July 2014
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”!
Origin stories are the easiest access point to any story, but when it’s something as established as the X-Files that’s a different I love the idea of an X-Files origin story, but the rich mythology and expectations from longtime fans makes this an uphill battle, if not an impossible task, especially within the relative constraints of a five issue run, but we’re past the point of no return here.
Kesel has written a story that stays true to the series in terms of structure, tone, and characters. At the beginning of the story Mulder and Scully are working a case that seems to be connected to the very first X-File case. As Mulder recounts the facts, we [the readers] get a flashback set in 1946, which introduces Agents Bing Ellinson and Millie Ohio who, for all intents and purposes, are Mulder and Scully’s predecessors. Even the banter captures Mulder’s dry wit and Scully’s headstrong personality. It’s a slow start but by the end, it feels like you’ve just seen the first 10-15 minutes of an episode before going to a commercial break.
Scott and Malotra’s artwork provide an accurate representation of the characters, and Mat Lopes’ intentionally drab color schemes complete the illusion that you’re watching the original series. The flashback sequences on the other hand are brightly colored, some of which look so different that you’d think you were reading a pulpy comic strip e.g. Dick Tracy. The juxtaposition differentiates the two time periods, but some of the brighter panels feel a bit out of place. I was hoping the flashbacks would utilize the black-and-white versions of agents Ellinson and Ohio. Otherwise I would have settled for Mulder and Scully dressed in 40’s fashion (see the subscription cover by Robert Hack and Stephen Downer), which is a gimmick the show would have taken advantage of.
All in all, this issue is just ‘okay’. It’s definitely more for the fans of the X-Files than mainstream audiences. The story did very little to grab my attention, and definitely didn’t leave me wanting more. I for one am interested to see how this origin story plays out, but it’s hard to recommend – at least right now – since this is essentially the first act of an overarching story, which means the flow is being bogged down by a lot of exposition.