Review: X-Files – Year One #5

X-Files: Year Zero’s first arc finale was not horrible, but it also didn’t blow my mind. That’s about par for the course on the series so far, though, so if you’ve been digging it so far: there’s more here to love! If you’ve been not-digging it, continue to stay away. In this issue we find out that the fake out from last issue was a classic Mulder-and-Scully-Mix-a-Round, and what we initially thought was true. That doesn’t make much sense from an outside perspective, but trust me, there’s only one or two good twists per issue here, and the one I’m talking about, you can spot from a mile away. Basically everything about the story in this issue wraps up in the first ten pages or so, and then we get twelve pages of epilogue and wrap-up. I’m not fundamentally opposed to that, especially since this is a miniseries, but it is the most obvious kind of writing-towards-a-trade that runs rampant nowadays.

XFiles_YZ05_cvrSUBKarl Kesel’s writing on this series has been the most uneven part of the whole thing. For a five-part miniseries, a lot of the early issues wandered, with one entire issue being dedicated to proving the point that Mr. Xero knows what’s up when he leaves his messages. All things considered, there was a lot of air in this story, in terms of things happening that didn’t build much into the central arc, but there was also a sense of busy-ness to it, while it jumped back and forth between timelines and set out to answer every question you’ve never had about the X-Files at the same time. Even the final reveal of what gave the X-Files their name is predicated on a joke about homonyms that doesn’t work anywhere except a comic book or novel page. It’s not lazy it just... doesn’t seem to add up to much. It doesn’t seem like he’s doing it to have fun with the medium, so it comes out as a tedious joke that we’ve waited five issues to see play out.

On the other hand, as always, is the artwork by Scott and Malhotra. I’m still mad I have no idea who’s responsible for which time period’s artwork, but both of them are doing a heck of a job carrying the story. The present time period stories with Mulder and Scully feature a Mulder and Scully who look close enough to be recognizable, but not so close that they’re exactly photo referenced; the past time period still retains a bright sense of innocence, even though that’s the timeline where people were getting murdered on the regular.

To me, that dramatic tension is the X-Files. It’s unsolvable, gruesome cases, but they’re so ridiculous that you have to laugh so you don’t scream. That’s the reason the Lone Gunmen exist, it’s the reason Mulder cracks wise in the face of literal demons (he’s got more than a little Spider-Man in him, I think). This series lacked that flavor. It went as dark as it could and didn’t let you come up for air, other than the times that you were supposed to think Dell was simple because he worked with animals like a savant. Glad to have this one over and done with.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Karl Kesel Artists: Greg Scott, Vic Malhotra Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/26/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital