Tuesday, December 1, 2015

(A semi-recent) comic review: The X-Files Annual 2015 (IDW, July 2015)

Released between the final issue of Season 10 and the first of Season 11, Annual 2015's "Most Likely to..." is a standalone, complete exception to the ongoing storyline(s) in the regular comics, I suspect designed to give the regular team a break after Season 10's big finale and a chance to get their bearings so as to begin the current "season".

As established by the opening panel's caption, the story takes place in summer 1999, which would set it sometime during season seven (but definitely before its final episode). Despite my and others' negative connotations, the story tonally and thematically evokes seasons six and seven.  In the real world, at the time the story occurs, the seventh's first run would have just finished up in May. Thus, "Most Likely"'s place on the timeline is fitting both internally and externally (if you're able to follow what I mean by that...)

For better or for worse, like many of the "MotWs" of those two seasons, "Most Likely" indulges in some cutesy toying around and teasing in regards to the (at that point only and heavily fan-fantasized) prospect of Mulder and Scully being in a relationship. Also like those (to me, justly) maligned two seasons, it "whimsically" and kitsch-ily embraces a particular element of pop culture -- here, though an anachronism, cable reality shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures that would become popular late in the following decade -- and has a more upbeat, Hollywood-ish tone. Though it by no means has a happy ending, it does have a clean, polished -- family-friendly even -- quality in the "neatly tying it all together" ending, with Mulder delivering a "solemn", "reflective" overview of his conclusions re: the case, expressing an allegory that suggests a karma-based fate/resolution for its subjects.

Though the theme of a high school outsider vs. the popular kids has -- it's safe to say -- been done to death, and despite the questionable aspects of the "geek" being the football star's "sidekick", writer Mike Raicht's variation of this old tune is original enough. Mulder and Scully's encounters with the concerned individuals' parents -- depicted in a state of enduring sadness and brokenness in the wake of the backstory's central events -- evoke the drearier take on domestic suburban America of earlier seasons. And the mild twist of the "truth" -- the specifics as to what happened to the kids, which entail the requisite "unexplained phenomena" -- that's revealed at the story's end admirably strikes me as just like something the show would have done. And Kevin VanHook's art, which is more showy and bulbous and much less minimalist and diminutive than that of the regular comics, it's more, er, extroverted nature fits the seasons-six-and-seven orientation of the story.

-- Ryan

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