Although not released to coincide with the summer’s “X-Files: I Want to Believe,” this six-issue mini-series does begin just in time for the DVD release in a couple of weeks. Then again, since this series takes place sometime during the original run of the television show, it doesn’t actually tie into the film that much (which, depending on your opinion on the movie could be a good thing). So who knows what the thinking behind the publication schedule here is.
Not that that matters much since when this comic is released has little to do with its contents, which are thoroughly below average. Writer Frank Spotnitz wrote for the television series and this issue tries to read like an episode, but lacks the depth or mood of the show. Scenes are rushed through, conversations are brief and lifeless, and the plot is barely engrossing. The differences in comics and television obviously necessitate a little compression since a 45-minute episode has more room for dialogue and lingering in scenes, but making it work is the job of the writer, and not the fault of the medium.
The plot is relatively simple: a biochemist working on classified government projects seemingly kills himself, but what little evidence there is points to murder with a cover-up. Agents Fox and Mulder are brought onto the case by the biochemist’s sister and their investigation is very straight-forward, leaving little room for character work. Obviously, Spontiz is relying on readers to use their knowledge of the characters to fill in the blanks, which isn’t unreasonable — but, still, a little bit would be nice.
Brian Denham’s art manages to capture the likenesses of the characters sometimes, albeit in oddly elongated forms. At other times, faces look off, poorly constructed, and not at all like the characters/actors. His positioning of the “camera” does mimic the show well, often using close-ups and over-the-shoulder shots. He relies on straight-on shots of characters a bit too often, but, for the most part, his art does a suitable job.
At first, the brisk pace seems to suggest that this is a self-contained story, but it ends on a cliffhanger. As solicitations for future issues show, this series isn’t one big story. The lack of content here begs the question of why it wasn’t a done-in-one issue. As it is, Spontiz’s script is far too sparse and lacking for a plot that isn’t outstanding. If anything, this reads like a forgettable mid-season episode put on fast forward.
(But, hey, maybe you’ll disagree… Check out CBR’s preview and see for yourself!)