After two middling-to-okay issues by “X-Files” show writer, Frank Spotnitz, things pick up with Marv Wolfman’s arrival for scripting chores. That this six-issue series has three two-issue stories speaks to the thought and intelligence put into it as two issues genuinely seems like the proper length for these sort of stories. This approach also allows for the first two issues to be forgotten with Wolfman’s superior writing.
The plot here is simple as two senior citizens are killed at the same time one night. Forensics turn up the killers’ fingerprints and they’re the same on each body. So, Mulder and Scully get called in to solve the mystery of how one person could kill in two different places at the same time. As well, both bodies have a Tong symbol carved into them, giving some indication of what’s going on.
This issue improves over the last two mostly in the skill and knowledge about writing for comics that Wolfman brings with him. Spotnitz’s issues seemed to suffer mostly because he didn’t know how to write comics yet, while Wolfman has been doing it for years and it shows. His pacing, while brisk, never feels rushed. In fact, he seems to draw upon movies and TV by entering scenes at the last possible moment and leaving before things get boring.
As well, he also compresses things well, allowing the art to tell one aspect of the story, while his words tell another. He knows that this is a visual medium that can’t rely on actors to create tension and calls on artist Brian Denham to make up the difference. Denham, to his credit, continues to improve with each issue, particularly in his depiction of Mulder and Scully. As he grows to know how these characters should look, he seems to rely less on photo references that look stilted and like he simply copied a screenshot. That aspect to his art remains in spots, but he’s definitely improving with each issue.
The only real negative of this issue is one big storytelling choice where Wolfman gives us shots of those behind the murder. This doesn’t build tension as we know more than Scully and Mulder, it takes away from the mystery of how a person could kill in two places at the same time. He builds the mystery up well by having all of the clues point at a man, except that man was in Hong Kong at the time of the murders and another one takes place while he’s talking to Scully and Mulder.
Marv Wolfman’s writing is improvement over that of the first two issues and he’s matched by a continually growing Brian Denham on art. Fans of the series will no doubt enjoy this issue.