Okay, so I only gave the first issue of this series 1.5 stars in my review of it last month, but I wanted to give the book another chance since I would be buying it for my “X-Files” fan girlfriend -- who loved the first issue and still hasn’t gotten over my scathing review of it. I’m happy to report that the second issue is an improvement and a strong finish to the story.
One of the big flaws of the first issue -- the rapid pace and short scenes -- works much better here since there is a greater urgency to the plot in this issue. A military contractor has developed a biological weapon and used it to silence a scientist who worked on it. Now, Mulder has been infected and Scully is taking it a little more personally. Since the weapon can be transmitted through the skin and works with the body’s own chemicals, there is a palpable danger throughout the issue that anyone can be infected at any time.
While the pacing problems mostly work for the story, they are still evident in some scenes where comparisons to how it would work on television cannot be avoided. Spotnitz does his best to take his time and establish the right mood but, sometimes, he breezes through scenes a little too quickly.
His character work is roughly the same as the first issue, but there are a few small touches like one of the Long Gunman members realizing he made a double-entendre regarding Mulder and Scully. Or, the clever manner in which Scully foils the efforts of the company under investigation to recover the evidence of their crime.
Artist Brian Denham also improves, as his characters looking more like their real life counterparts more with each page. However, his odd habit of seemingly distorting figures continues with some panels featuring characters that look squished or stretched. It’s very distracting. His habit of using full-on shots of characters, though, continues to give the book a look similar to the TV show, mimicking camera shots as best as possible.
What really makes the issue work is the final page, which is meant to be a surprise, but isn’t really, falling more into the category of cynical realism. Spotnitz could have wrapped up the story in a neat little package, but chooses a harsher ending that is appropriate for the material. Denham’s drawing of Scully in the second-last panel also sells the horrific nature of the ending almost as well as Gillian Anderson could.
The conclusion to the first story in this mini-series redeems the weak opening by amping up the suspense and danger level, and ending on a cynical downer. I know that my girlfriend will love it and, thankfully, I got to enjoy it this month.
(Artist Brian Denham’s storytelling is strong, but what’s up with the distorted faces? See for yourself in CBR’s preview.)