Wednesday, June 19, 2013

X-Files Season 10 - First Issue

There is a new X-Files comic hitting the news stands and comic shops today. Is it worth picking up?

One of my personal criteria for adapted/tie-in media (whether comics or novels) is the (sometimes) simple question: Is this something more than just fanfiction? That question can be deceptively difficult to answer sometimes. I find with media tie-in stuff you often have to keep in the back of your head that this story is like a sort of parallel universe, where the characters are very similar to what you're used to....but not exactly the same. Usually the dialog is the hardest thing to match, getting the vernacular and cadence of a character's speech in text isn't always and exact science.

All of this was going through my head as I was reading IDW Publishing's first issue of their new X-Files comic: X-Files Season 10. With the popularity of Dark Horse Comics Buffy comics taking the approach of being a direct continuation of the original television series and have series creator Joss Whedon as a sort of "Executive Producer" of the series, it seems probably that another publisher would take that approach as well. Having X-Files creator Chris Carter filling a similar role for this comic should give some gravitas to the book, particularly among long-time fans of the television show.

X-Files Season 10 picks up after the end of the television series and the two movies released in theaters. Mulder and Scully are both there, and their characterizations are pretty much what you would expect them to be. Scully is the always helping and nurturing doctor, and Mulder is his sarcastic and irascible self. In the broad strokes, the characterizations are within the area of where they should be. There are some false steps with how the characters speak and interact, and while that can be a bit grating, I'm not sure yet how much that interferes with enjoying the comic. Getting a feel for how writer Joe Harris handles the characters, and if I like that, is going to take a few issues.

I'm not sure if the issue has the feel of an episode of the show, however. It is hard to judge off of a single part of the story arc. I think that it comes close, but I am going to have to see the entire story before that can be judged. I really want to give this a more positive review. It isn't that I think it was a bad comic, it is just that it isn't as great of a comic as I wanted it to be.

One problem that this comic is going to have is that it not only has to compare favorably with the television series/movies, but it also has the previous X-Files comics from Topps to contend with. The Topps X-Files comics were excellent books, well done by the creators and they did a top (ha!) notch job of capturing the feel and cadence of the series. Hopefully seeing more issues will changes my opinion of the current book, but without seeing more of the story I have to say that the IDW book does not do as good of a job at being an X-Files comic as the stuff from Topps did. Some might think that it is a bit unfair to compare one issue to a series, but that is what we have. As this story arc is developed my opinion may change, and I will revise my opinion, but currently this is where I stand on this.

To answer my initial question: Yes, I do think that this is more than fan fiction. The creators are working hard, but for me they just aren't there yet.

Do I recommend buying this comic? If you are a fan of the X-Files or conspiracy fiction in general, there is likely something that you can dig of out this comic to enjoy. As it currently stands, I think that I would suggest trade waiting and pick up a collection. The reasons that I have problems could be because this is one of those books that reads better as a whole than as individual issues. There are a lot of comics that come across better in the trade. As it is, this is an interesting paranoid conspiracy story that might suffer because it has the X-Files name attached to it, and does not live up to the expectations that come with that name.