Number of pages: 122
The third compilation from the new comic book series comprises a single five-part adventure, Pilgrims, with the action set initially in Saudi Arabia before switching to the United States later on.
The fact that Saudi Arabia is most associated with having oil reserves should be a clue to the fact that this adventure revolves around one of the show's most bizarre aliens, an oil-based creature that takes over a person's mind (a bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers).
I noticed that this wasn't an idea that translated well to the pages of a comic book. In the TV series (as far back as 1996), CGI was advanced so far as that people infected with the black oil were shown having flecks of the stuff swimming over their eyes. In a static picture, it comes across less obviously and at times it took me a few moments to realise that a character was host to the black oil. It's done here by showing characters' eyes as completely black, but since the artwork often includes a lot of shadows it was a bit confusing.
However, the story is decent and thankfully the plot involving the black oil is reasonably straightforward.
The bit where it gets complicated is where the on-going backstory is pushed forward, including the mysterious character with superhuman powers who has bought back the Cigarette Smoking Man and has some sort of hold over him. The most notable plot point comes at the end of part 1, but is a spoiler - so I'm hiding it behind a cut.
[Spoiler (click to open)]
Alex Krycek, a character who seems to show loyalty to no one else who was definitely shot dead by Skinner at the end of the show's eighth season, returns to life in this episode. After a brief scene with Mulder, he vanishes into a flash of light, seemingly abducted (alien abductions take up large part of this story, and Scully is herself taken at one point).
There is a vague explanation, which seems to be that certain characters are just bought back to life whenever they die - or something like that. To put simply, it seems similar to a recent Simpsons episode where Homer died, only to be bought back to life through a succession of 300 Homer clones. Alternatively, think of the old Futurama episode where life is like a video game; Dr. Zoidberg eats Fry, only for him to reappear moments later saying he had another life.
Krycek's is given a significant role in the story, and one of my favourite moments involves him and Scully together, possibly because there never was a single scene on the TV show that was just Scully and Krycek.
The show's backstory gets immensely confusing towards the end, as it raises more questions than it answers, and it's best not to even try to follow what's going on in certain scenes towards the end of the final chapter, that feel like something off Lost, or a David Lynch movie.
However, I enjoyed the characterisation of all the characters, particularly the Cigarette Smoking Man, who gets one of his most brutal moments (it involves him snubbing out a cigarette in another character's eye).
The main plot also has a satisfying ending that brings back another kind of alien previously seen on the show. I also liked the fact that young William Scully was mentioned again.
And at risk of angering the fanboys/fangirls, I'm hoping that Doggett and Reyes haven't been forgotten about and that they've not just been killed off. I'd like to see them return in supporting roles.
Next book: A Storm of Swords, Part 1: Steel and Snow (George R.R. Martin)