I reminded my girlfriend last night that the final issue of Wildstorm's "X-Files" mini-series ships this week and, excitedly, she assured me that I would be giving it at least four stars. She's been loving the book, while I've merely been enjoying it. Well, she'll certainly love this final issue, but I only enjoyed it. There's nothing wrong with that as this is a strong way to end the series which has, as a whole, been good.
This issue concludes Doug Moench's two-issue story about subterranean creatures that live in caverns and feed on humans. This is, by far, the most explicitly supernatural of the three stories to make up this series with the creatures shown several times, which does lead to the hope that Mulder has finally found proof of something beyond normal human existence. That is, if he can escape from these creatures without them eating him. The tension began last issue continues with Scully and a local police officer searching for Mulder and a murder suspect, while Mulder tries to escape with another potential victim.
Brian Denham's work is the constant throughout this series and is strong here. It's been a real pleasure to watch his style change and adapt over the series as he's worked to combine his own artistic elements with the likenesses of the actors who played these characters on the show and in the movies. Carlos Badilla's coloring is the weak spot in the art again as he continues to use a bright palate despite the entire issue taking place at night or underground. In the preview pages, you can see the amount of light blues and yellows used, which doesn't work with the setting or mood of the story. It's distracting, which is exactly what you don't want from the coloring.
In this issue, Denham makes a bold move by breaking from that realistic style in a couple of spots to depict flashbacks in very sketchy, frantic drawings. The results are fantastic as he demonstrates that, while this is a licensed comic book, it should also be executed as a comic book and take advantage of the medium's strengths, like using differing art styles for differing effects. For the first time in the series, an issue reads like a comic rather than a TV episode in comic form. It's a shame that this moment of growth came in the final issue.
Moench's writing doesn't quite live up to the potential of his first issue, but he does keep things moving well. He almost overcomes the knowledge that everything will work out for these characters in a few spots, but the resolution of the main plot is a little too neat and tidy, ignoring the problems raised by these creatures' existence.
"The X-Files" six-issue mini series has been a well-executed book with this issue ending things well. The use of three writers doing two-issue stories with one artist is a great format for a licensed book like this, and, if anything, is an idea that should be stolen by others. This issue also had a very impressive few pages by Brian Denham where he broke from the typical look of "The X-Files" to use a technique that the TV series never could, and, in the process, hinted that a future series could take advantage of the medium more than this one did. I hope it gets the chance.