Review: Millennium #1

For some reason I kept reading the title as “Millennials” so I was expecting an angst ridden, existential meditation of what it’s like to be in your late 20’s in New York.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is actually Millennium based on the 1996 TV series of the same name.  To give you some context Millennium was X-Files for the post Se7en crowd.  Made by the same creator, Chris Carter, the tone of Millennium was quite different than its counterpart.   X-Files was monochrome, at times stiff and methodical.  It focused somewhat on the “will they/won’t they” dynamic between its two leads: Mulder and Scully.  In many ways it was more about the long con, those two characters and conspiracy theories as a concept than it was “bogeyman of the week”.  Although X-Files did have its share of those. Millennium was drenched in earth tones, was more personable and started life in the “bogeyman of the week” format before evolving.  Frank Black was able to see through the eyes of serial killers and it was refreshing in that he saw nothing supernatural about being able to do that.  It was just a thing he did, like turning your eyelids inside out or curling your tongue or being able to rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time.  The Millennium group played the part of the shadowy conspiracy but the show was very much more about Frank Black and his abilities and his relationships.  Later seasons would introduce some major supernatural elements, one highlight being a bunch of legit demons hanging out in a café talking about the people they damned.  Amazing piece of television, I recommend you find at least that episode and watch it.  The episode is called “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me”, if you’re curious and it will provide pretty much everything you need to know about the show and the character of Frank Black.

Millenium01_cvr 1-21-15So, that’s the context that this comic book is surrounded by and its context you’re going to need if you want to derive any sort of pleasure out of this.  If you don’t know who Frank Black is, the Millennium TV show tone, who the Millennium Group are, what the X-Files are or who Fox Mulder is well they don’t do much to help you.

We start with two nameless guys going to a nameless party and doing something nameless the eve of Y2K.  Remember Y2K?  I had a New Year’s Eve party 99/00 and Y2K was such a worry that one of my friends mom showed up suddenly to take him back to the family home to prepare for the techno-pocalypse, good times.  I digress.  They say some shady stuff and clink some shady glasses in front of a shady World Trade Center.  No idea what’s going on, not really enough information to get me intrigued either.  Is the implication that the Millennium group is behind 9/11?  Do we really need to be reminded of 9/11 in a comic?  There are no answers provided for those questions which really gives it that X-Files feel!

We then cut to modern times and Fox Mulder is testifying in front of a parole board.  We get a detailed description of the serial killer up for parole that leads to very little payoff later on.  Following that is the part that bothered me the most.  Frank Black goes back to his hotel room and lays out a bunch of old papers when Fox reveals himself by flipping on a light.  The problem is that both Fox and Frank are people who get lights flipped on them.  They are both the guy in the dark room doing something only to be surprised by a third party in the darkness.  It just seems so out of character for Fox, but I guess someone has to take up the role.  It would have been better to team up Fox and Frank and then have a series mystery man, like, the Cigarette Smoking Man, show up.  But whatever, it brings me my next point of contention: Ostensibly this comic is aimed at fans of the series, it better be because you’d be even more lost without the context, but the characters don’t feel “right”.  Mulder is too witty, too solid, not at all the weird, awkward guy I remember from the show.  Frank is barely in this issue making it hard to get a bead on his character so I guess that will have to wait for future issues to draw a conclusion.

The bottom line is this issue scratched that nostalgia itch for me, obviously since this review is drenched in nostalgia, but did very little else.  The plot was a little muddled, the payoff wasn’t really there and there just isn’t a whole lot of reason to grab the next issue unless you are such a hardcore fan you picked up on some nuance that I missed.  I watched the shows when they first aired but I haven’t seen them since so I might be missing some great subtle thing or I might be misremembering the characters.

Either way unless you have SOME connection to the source material, or are willing to slog it out for several issues to gather some context, I can’t imagine there’s much reason for the average person to pick it up.  If you have that nostalgic connection then add a point to the score otherwise I’d steer clear unless you’re really ready to mine some meaning from what’s to come.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Joe Harris Artist: Colin Lorimer Colorist: Joana Lafuente Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/21/15 Format: Print/Digital