If I may be honest for a moment: I’m buying “X-Files/30 Days of Night” for my girlfriend. She’s a big “X-Files” fan and enjoys reading the comics, so I don’t mind picking any up when they come out. I read them for reviewing purposes or just because it’s a comic that I bought, and, I’ve got to say, I’m surprised at how entertaining this series has been. Place me in the firm ‘no more vampires for a long time’ category, but this series has done a great job at putting the vampires in the background for the most part, using the “X-Files” style of only showing bits and pieces of the supernatural or otherworldly elements of the case. It's just enough to whet our appetites and know that Scully is wrong in her protests that vampires don’t exist.
Stranded in the Arctic, Mulder and Scully discover that their helicopter crashed on a Russian island last issue and find themselves working with their Russian counterparts in the intelligence community who are also on the trail of a serial killer (or killers) that seems to be of supernatural origin. Considering the size of the group of vampires, using Alaska’s proximity to Russia to give the FBI agents some additional allies is a smart move and also provides them with the chance to learn more from ‘the man without limbs’ through the Russians. His story provides some background information on the vampires and leads to what looks like a pretty big plot point near the end of the issue.
With the dark mood of this issue, Tom Mandrake continues to prove himself the perfect artist for this series. His sketchy art communicates the feeling of each scene as well as the emotions of the characters. Everyone is on edge, not quite sure what’s going on, and that comes through in his art. The contrast between the darkness of the unending night and the whiteness of the seemingly unending snow allows Mandrake to play with light and shadow in ways that cultivate and elevate the creepy mood of the comic. This book looks more like a straight-up horror comic than an “X-Files” comic, but that balances out well with the writing, which leans more towards “X-Files” than horror.
This issue does suffer somewhat from being an exposition-heavy issue. While ‘the man without limbs’ delivers some pertinent information, not much necessarily happens here except Mulder and Scully meet the Russians, here what ‘the man without limbs’ has to say, and the vampires come for the undying man. Halfway through the series, this issue feels like a second set-up issue, not one that re-energizes the book in the middle of the story. It’s a fine line to walk between too much exposition and delivering new information to drive the story forward, and this issue leans too heavily towards the latter.
Despite that, this series is entertaining and demonstrates how two different properties can cross over without it being cheesy or forced. Niles and Jones manage to make the two worlds mesh without any problems, while Mandrake delivers strong, dark, moody art. I may be buying for my girlfriend, but I find I’m reading it for me.