In this month’s Comic Book Corner, Sophie explores the X-Files universe, while Beth dives into Marvel’s Patsy Walker AKA HellCat series, thanks to Kindle Unlimited.
We hope you have a great summer and look forward to sharing our reading suggestions with you in the next Comic Book Corner on October 1st.
The X-Files Origins: Dog Days of Summer, Issues #1 and #2
Writers: Jody Houser, Matthew Dow Smith
Artists: Chris Fenoglio, Colin Howell
Publisher: IDW Publishing
After a fabulous, if short, run last year, Sophie was delighted when The X-Files: Origins returned to comics with a new four issue limited arc. Dog Days of Summer is set just one week after the events of the previous arc and, as with last year’s run, is composed of a Mulder story and a Scully story that run separately from one another but have some connections.
In Mulder’s story, young Fox is still brooding over the events of the previous week, convinced there is more going on than the grownups of Martha’s Vineyard want him to know. His friends, Tim & Eric, appear more content to let sleeping dogs lie—Eric clearly concerned about his father yet unwilling to admit so to the other boys. During issues one and two, Fox helps save the life of a young deaf girl called Lisa—twice—when she finds herself standing in strange places, mesmerized by something in the air. He also bumps into Mercy, the mysterious blonde girl from the last arc, and the two discover over half a dozen dead whales that have washed up on the shore, most certainly connected to the strange readings being recorded by the scientists and military from the Oceanic Institute.
Scully’s story is set three years after Mulder’s in San Diego where her father has recently become Rear Admiral in charge of Miramar Naval Base. Dana is still reeling from the murder of her Sunday school teacher, an apparently random crime committed by a homeless man she discovered living on a nearby beach, and coming to terms with the loneliness that comes with moving to a new town at an important age. Over these issues, Dana realizes that a nearby plane crash is linked to last week’s events when she recognizes the pilot is the same homeless man responsible for her teacher’s murder. The police don’t take her claims seriously but within hours, the detective she spoke to washes up dead on the very same beach. However, it is her father Admiral Scully’s story that has so far been the more gripping as he confronts the men using his base to conduct secret tests and finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a conspiracy with the Smoking Man at its heart.
Both stories in issue one are short, partly owing to the need to bring readers up to speed on events of the previous arc, however, both also pack in plenty to establish the new mysteries that will form the backbone of this new mini series. Issue two takes both and expands on each, giving readers much more to think about and as many new questions as answers. Scully’s questioning of her faith once again feels a little heavy-handed, but the scenes with her father more than make up for that, and the hopelessness that surrounded Mulder’s character is already plenty evident here. Sophie also loves how the two stories feel like part of a bigger whole but without messing up canon by interweaving Mulder & Scully’s lives too early. Details such as both kids ending issue two by making a discovery on a beach with Mercy by their side show that the two are part of one universe and one story.
These are some of the best X-Files stories in years, and anyone concerned about Kid Mulder and Kid Scully not fitting into later canon should definitely give the series the benefit of the doubt.
The X-Files: Funko Universe One-Shot
Writers: Derek Fridolfs, Mike Raicht, Matthew Dow Smith, Denton J. Tipton
Artists: Pamela Lovas, Charles Paul Wilson III, Chris Fenoglio, Troy Little
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Sophie was also thrilled when The X-Files was one of five franchises to receive the Funko Universe treatment, this year’s crazy offering from IDW. The X-Files issue was composed of four short stories by various artists and authors, all drawn using Funko Pop style versions of the characters. Despite the entire thing being solidly tongue-in-cheek, the book featured some truly excellent X-Files storytelling.
The first story, “To Believe Or Not To Believe,” is more like a simple series of vignettes featuring Mulder spotting various paranormal phenomena while Scully remains comically oblivious. A Funko flukeman can be spotted, as can the shadowy figure of the CSM, and a tearful AD Skinner when Mulder pulls on a bald cap and imitates him—much to Scully’s annoyance. There’s even a nod to the 2012 alien invasion plot that the show’s creators seemingly brushed under the rug. Sophie’s personal favorite featured the two agents in the desert, Scully’s eyes dripping black. This is not, however, the alien Purity virus as Mulder immediately suspects, merely Scully’s eyeliner running in the heat.
The next story, “You Are What You Eat,” is entirely without dialogue and sees Mulder and Scully investigating a smoothie store giving away “free black oil milkshakes” that appear to be turning consumers into vicious monsters. Upon investigating, the agents discover that the owner of this store has a suspiciously green complexion and an equally suspicious mustache. When the monsters attack, the proprietor seizes the opportunity to escape with Mulder on foot behind, leaving Scully to fend off the attackers with a nearby frying pan. Bursting out of the back door, Mulder sees the creature fly away on a flying saucer, typically, mere seconds before Scully arrives on the scene.
Story three, “Escape from Space Mountain,” is set at Area 51 1/2 outside “the town next to Roswell.” A black suited figure infiltrates the base, discovering a shiny UFO sat within a hangar, before being discovered themselves seconds later by the Smoking Man and a small army of soldiers. Dumped into the base’s prison, the figure now revealed to be Mulder discovers an alien captive and hatches an elaborate plot to escape with the being, only to learn that the alien has a Star Trek-style teleporter that can free them with ease. The two bust out of the mountain aboard the spaceship and Mulder suddenly finds himself sat at his desk in Washington, DC, where Scully drily informs him of a very important case sent down to them from Skinner.
Finally, “Sasquatch on the Set” sees Mulder, Scully, and their plaid-wearing guide out hunting Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. The beast appears, their guide makes a break for it, and Scully is caught. Just when it all looks bad for the agents, an even bigger Bigfoot (Biggerfoot?) looms out of the woods, knocking the first beast to the ground and freeing Scully. Suddenly, we spot Funko Chris Carter standing behind the camera asking whether they got the shot and the real Bigfoot snuggling the fake one from the show production, much to the dismay of the man inside the costume.
These stories all show the fun side of The X-Files while adding in elements of conspiracy, horror, and everything else that made the show what it was—all without becoming bogged down in the overly serious, convoluted plots that often plague X-Files storytelling. There are dozens of fun nods for fans to discover, and one-liners that are bound to bring a smile to faces. Honestly, this is the best X-Files comic Sophie has read in years.
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 1 & 2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Kate Leth
Artists: Brittney L. Williams, Megan Wilson
Beth has been playing in the Marvel end of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited pool this summer, and discovered the joy that is Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! This series is bright and fun, and the casual reader doesn’t have to be familiar with the old Patsy Walker series to enjoy the reboot. There’s plenty of action and humor, and several asides to explain characters from other series as they appear in this one, so even though Beth doesn’t read many Marvel titles, she felt like she could keep up with the history and the current storyline.
Patsy is a superhero in need of a job, but her dream is to build an agency for fellow superpowered beings who need employment, too. Several of them are hired by an Asgardian sorceress who wants to build an evil minion army on the cheap, and Patsy, along with She-Hulk and other friends, foil her plans. Add in a fight with her former friend Hedy, who owns her likeness and is reproducing comic books from her past, and even gets Patsy’s demon ex-husband to send her back to a dimension of Hell, and Patsy has her paws full. That’s not even counting the trouble with Black Cat and the war on Thanos!
In addition to villains, the two collections have an awesome set of guest appearances, including Doctor Strange, Jessica Jones, Nick Cage, Jubilee, and even Howard the Duck, who gets more page time here than screen time in Guardians of the Galaxy. Great storylines and writing from Kate Leth and vivid art from Brittney L. Williams and Megan Wilson make this a perfect summer read, especially for comic fans on a staycation budget.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.