Number of pages: 124
This compilation features three stories from the X-Files Season 10 series of comic books.
The first story, Immaculate is possibly the creepiest comic book story I have ever read. Very dark throughout, it opens with a teenage girl approaching an abortion clinic, and walking past a line of anti-abortion protestors.
Once in, however, she blows up the abortion clinic with a bomb hidden under her dress, and somehow survives, which should be a hint that she has some sort of supernatural power. The story then turns into some sort of Satanic version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", as she encourages the protestors who didn't flee the scene to start following her.
The story itself is quite hard to follow, but involves a lot of sinister drawings of pentagrams, and people being led into a light, which could be alien, but judging by the subject matter in the story, it's probably something far scarier. It did occur to me that there could be some connection with the unseen "Chittering God" from one of the earlier stories, and the superbly creepy ending makes it appear that this is a plotline that will be picked up again later.
This story is most notable, however, for the appearance of Frank Black, who was originally in Chris Carter's show, Millennium about a retired F.B.I. agent with apparent psychic powers. It started as a gritty thriller series that usually involved a serial killer of the week, but later on introduced demons, Christian symbolism and apocalyptic prophecies. He ominously tells Mulder, "If you knew the things you knew ... then your hair would be grey too".
Overall, the story is effective at being spine chilling, but it is very hard to make sense of.
The second story is entitled Monica & John, a reference to Monica Reyes and John Doggett, who were introduced in the show's eighth season, and who were abducted at the start of the comic book series. Unlike their previous fleeting appearances, this story sees them taking centre stage as we find out what happened to them (it involves a shape-shifting alien).
I like the characters of Doggett and Reyes, so was pleased to see them again, although I'm not sure if this was meant as closure for their story, or part of a story arc that the series will return to. I liked the fact that the story gave them scenes together, and it was refreshingly simple to follow. The story was slightly padded out by a lot of scenes where characters were seen moving from one room to another, but it did do an effective job of reflecting the type of cinematography that the show did so well in order to keep things suspenseful.
Mulder is strangely absent from the story (Scully says he is testifying before a parole board), but it was ultimately satisfying, despite the fact that the shape shifter makes a strange decision to go into public while assuming the form of John Doggett.
I quite enjoyed the story, though I suspect it would lead to complaints from fanboys and fangirls, who express a lot of hate for Doggett and Reyes on the internet.
The final story, G-23 involves some sort of extra-potent version of marijuana, apparently made by the government, which "brings out the worst in anyone". The story felt almost darkly comic at times, and started off with a flashback involving the Cigarette Smoking Man and Bill Mulder and two test subjects.
In the present, Mulder is given a tip off by the Cigarette Smoking Man, and events lead to both him and Langly being exposed to a drug. This leads to a trippy story that almost feels like the Pink Elephants sequence from Dumbo. The Cigarette Smoking Man turns into some evil dominatrix-type version of Scully, and that's just one part of a bizarre series of events that includes visual homages to films like Thelma and Louise; Mulder manages to get a reference to Star Wars in and an oblique one to The Simpsons. The hallucinations also included a brief appearance from the character Diana Fowley, a former lover of Mulder's who was the subject of a lot of hate on the internet.
Each story features different artwork styles, with my favourite being Matthew Dow Smith's from the second story. The other stories were drawn well too, with Immaculate just being drawn in a very creepy manner, and the likeness of the actor Lance Henriksen (who played Frank Black) is very good.
The artwork in G-23 gave it a very trippy style through the hallucinatory sequences, though for some reason Mulder, Scully and the Cigarette Smoking Man seemed to be drawn differently in each frame, and at times did not look like the actors who play them. At one point, Mulder looked more like former Doctor Who Matt Smith. However, this might have been done to add to the trippy feel of the story and I may have just completely missed the point.
Overall, I liked that fact that this book managed to provide three stories with very different tones that made them stand out from each other.
Next book: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins