COMMENTARY TRACK: Joe Harris on "X-Files: Season 10" #1

Fri, June 21st, 2013 at 9:58am PDT

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Karl Keily, Contributing Writer

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IDW Publishing brought Agents Mulder and Scully, two of sci-fi's most iconic characters, out of retirement this week with the release of "The X-Files: Season 10" #1 by writer Joe Harris and artist Michael Walsh. The new ongoing series picks up the characters' story several years after the finale of the cult TV show that lasted for nine seasons before ending in 2002.

"X-Files: Season 10" follows in the footsteps of other cancelled TV shows that have seen their lives renewed and extended via popular comic runs like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," featuring original, in-continuity tales starring fans' favorite characters. Original "X-Files" series creator Chris Carter will serve as a story consultant and executive producer for "Season 10."

Harris went over the first issue of "X-Files: Season 10" page-by-page with Comic Book Resources, explaining how he came to the project, which major characters will be appearing in upcoming issues, dissecting Mulder and Scully's relationship and more.

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CBR News: Joe, before we get into the details about the first issue, how did you find yourself writing "X-Files: Season 10?"

Joe Harris: It sort of happened really fast. I was talking with Chris Ryall, who offered congratulations on the launch of my Image Comics series "Great Pacific," and he asked me if I had any interest. It was one of those things that caused me to almost reflexively respond, "Yes!" without even thinking too long and hard about it. For one thing -- and the best thing -- I'm a huge fan of the show, the characters, Chris Carter's execution and his wonderful staff of producers and writers over the years. I was really "of age" when the series hit, a teenager with Friday nights to spare, and over the years, it had already become one of those points of discussion and reminiscing amongst my closest childhood friends and my brother, all of whom would have a hard time separating memories of growing up in the 1990s from their "X-Files" fandom.

Anyway, once IDW asked, I holed up for a couple of days and punched out a take on the material, which they responded really enthusiastically to. From there, it went to Fox and I managed to get them excited about the direction I had outlined too. And I was hired, and we started getting to work when, one day soon after, I'm told that what was thought to be a routine meeting with FOX and representatives from 1013 Productions turned into an unexpected meeting with Chris Carter himself who sought more involvement with the series. From there, we all got on the phone and talked about what I was doing. Chris had some thoughts, concerns, suggestions, etc., and we ended up meeting in Los Angeles to talk about things further and deepen the trust, the commitment and all that.

What I love about this property is the memorable mythos that wrapped around these character, unspooled over nine seasons -- and one movie that dealt with it directly. It was dizzying in its execution and some of the most anticipated television in history. Once Mulder started digging into the government cover-up of the existence of extraterrestrials in hopes of uncovering the truth of what happened to his little sister, believed abducted by aliens years ago, things got intense and fast. Following Mulder and Scully through everything, their relationship and devotion to one another, and the price they continually paid in search of "the truth," just left an indelible mark on my brain, as both a writer and creator of science fiction and horror, myself, and a fan who knows what the good shit is when he sees it.

Also, it's the prototypical paranormal investigation franchise. So much else out there is derivative of it in some way. The show obviously borrows from the old "Kolchak" series, as well as the format of "The Outer Limits" and the various Rod Serling series' like "Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery"... but how many properties, across various media, do you find out there which resembles "The X-Files" in some way or another? You can tell so many types of stories in this universe, with these characters and within this paradigm, and they certainly did for a good many years.

Moving on to the first issue, the story opens with Agent Scully in quite a bit of peril. Are these new foes, or something from "X-Files" past?

They're new adversaries whom we'll definitely be learning more about as this opening story arc unspools. They're connected, in ways both obvious and subtle, rooted in some of the past mythology of the show, as well as something wholly new.

How long has Scully been out of the X-Files division and living in this new identity?

Scully, and Mulder, have been away from things since the end of the last movie -- so it's been a few years.

I cast her as a practicing pediatrician, which is a new role for her but, I think, one that fits with her character as we've seen in the past. She's clearly got a soft spot for children. That aspect of her character, especially as it pertains to more personal elements of her past, will be a major part of all this going forward.

That name "Van de Kamp" should ring a bell for the more intrepid viewers of the show. How direct, or oblique, the reference proves to be to our story going forward remains to be seen, however --

Did Mulder just steal a baseball from those kids?

Ha! Yeah -- I don't think the retired suburban life is really agreeing with Mulder these days. He's about a second or two away from yelling at those kids to get off his lawn.

The slight-of-hand "magic" trick speaks to his assumed identity, "Blake" and the connection to an earlier bit of "X-Files" trivia I'll speak more about in a second.

I knew early on that I wanted to get one old "Spooky" Mulder utterance into this first issue!

Are Scully and Mulder living together now?

They are living together, all biblically and such. But, like with most relationships, outside pressures and internal fissures test theirs, so I wouldn't necessarily read this as "happily ever after," you know?

Will Skinner play a prominent role in the series moving forward?

I love Walter Skinner. I want to get back to that classic paradigm where he's challenging Mulder, pushing him, clashing with him, etc. All the while, we're thinking he's such a dick, and that he even might be in league with the antagonistic forces within the FBI, the larger government and the conspiratorial elements both outside it and within... only to reveal that he's really doing his best to protect Mulder and Scully, from those very same forces.

But, in any case, yeah. He's around for the foreseeable future.

I pulled the "Blake" name Mulder and Scully are living under from a flashback scene in the season two premiere episode of the television series, "Little Green Men," in which young Fox Mulder witnesses his sister Samantha's apparent alien abduction following an episode of his favorite television show, "The Magician" -- starring Bill Bixby, who went on, as comics fans know, to play David Banner on "The Incredible Hulk." I thought it'd be a neat nod to continuity, and it's the first of a few Easter egg-ish bits and pieces woven into this story arc.

Hacking, eh? This seems like a case for the Lone Gunmen! Will they be appearing in the series any time soon?

As we've already leaked the covers for issue #2, I don't think I'm spoiling anything by answering, Yes! The Lone Gunmen will be making their return, next issue.

Here, we see Scully's concern for her child, William, whom she gave up for adoption toward the end of the show's final season in an effort to hide him from the forces who would always hunt him.

So, Mulder is writing a book? I have to imagine that there's more than a few shady figures who would like to get their hands on that manuscript --

He's writing it, but I'm not sure it's the sort of thing that will be publishable as he's redacting himself as he goes. That manuscript won't be very useful, to a publisher or an enemy, with all the classified parts blacked out like they are.

I just like the idea of him struggling with what he knows, what he's learned, what he can and can't talk about, and what he's had to accept without being able to change it for the better.

Why would Mulder redact his own book?

Well, if he didn't, the government surely would. You can't just publish a memoir about classified, top secret stuff. The world knows Special Agent Fox Mulder worked for years on the X-Files. We saw a number of times, in early episodes, that his search for evidence of aliens on earth was known to other conspiracy theorists, alien abductees, etc. But he couldn't write a book about what he's seen go on within the government, what they've covered up -- for bad or good, honestly -- without a rain of shit coming down on him.

But even beyond that, Mulder's wanted peace. He's wanted nothing to do with the FBI, or The X-Files, for years. Breaking that anonymity would invite scrutiny, and threaten both his and Scully's privacy, as well as their safety. Although, once you read issue #1, it needs to be said -- a lot of good that did him.

Is Skinner calling Mulder instead of the FBI an indication that he might not be authorized to contact his two favorite former special agents at all?

He's actually calling Mulder to lure him away from home. Skinner is under these mystery villains' control. He doesn't want to make the call, but we can see that his nose is bleeding, one of those visual cues that psychic power is being exerted over him. These hooded figures want Skinner and Mulder as far away from Scully as possible, so they can make their bigger, actual move on her.

Are we catching a glimpse of the cult leader in this final panel?

It's... complicated. You're catching a glimpse of a very significant member of this group who's going to have a lot to do with Scully going forward. Whether he turns out to be friend or foe remains to be seen.

Things aren't looking too good for Scully. What's coming up for our intrepid paranormal investigators in the next few issues?

Scully is seen as a sort of prize to these characters. Based on her history, what she's seen and experienced, these robed and glowing eyed figures are drawn to her. But now, Mulder's coming after them all, and that's bad news for the bad guys.

As Mulder tries to get to the bottom of who's hunting them, who got to Dana Scully, and why, we'll see old allies and enemies both crawl out of the woodwork. I've confirmed The Lone Gunmen, and we've already teased the Cigarette Smoking Man on the cover to issue #3. I'd look for the return of other old friends within the FBI, as well as more of a connection drawn between the uniquely special, potentially part-alien child Scully bore and surrendered for adoption years ago and the reason she's being hunted today.

Where were "X-Files" creator Chris Carter's fingerprints in this first issue?

Honestly, it's on what you can't and won't see. I know that's cryptic, and I apologize. Maybe one day I'll elaborate on what we didn't do in this opening story arc, but I'm grateful for advice he gave me for writing "The X-Files," and for the story challenge he presented when he requested a change to the opening arc, "Believers," and why he wanted it made.

Sorry I can't tell you more. State Secrets and all.

"The X-Files: Season 10" #1 by Joe Harris and Michael Walsh is available now from IDW Publishing.

TAGS:  commentary track, idw publishing, x-files, x-files season 10, joe harris

 
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