Have you ever thought to yourself: you know what the X-Files needs? More pantsuits. Well, for you mid-90’s fashion aficionados, you’re in luck! The newest addition to the X-Files mythos puts a gender-bending spin on the popular series by replacing Detective Mulder with Detective Mulder! That is, Samantha Mulder, Fox Mulder’s sister who famously got abducted by aliens, spurring his life-long obsession with all things bizarre. IDW Comics, the home for the official ongoing cannon of the X-Files series, has started their yearly Deviations series, where they take established series and do a “What-If?” inspired work such as, what if Fox got abducted, not Samantha? Would she be just as driven to find answers to the biggest questions that plague the cosmos? Would she also be a giant nerd? These questions and more are answered in the first issue of a five-week event starting with a case of the multiple identity man.
The comic opens with our heroines, Agents Mulder and Scully as they take in the sights and sounds of Black Hills, South Dakota in a case about three men who all happen to look exactly the same. They manage to catch up to one of them just to watch him get killed by another man in a suit speaking gibberish, a green ooze dripping out of the corpse in place of blood and things only get weirder from there. At the local coroners, the body disappears in an instance of double identity and the detectives are warned by their supervisor to let it go, but it wouldn’t be the X-Files if they did. Having few options, Mulder calls up some of her old friends in attempt to the knots between the bodies, the ooze, and the shadowy world of a certain smoking man. But who are the real enemies and why are they so determined to keep the agents away from the truth?
The Mulder sibling swap aside, X-Files: Deviations feels like a genuine X-Files story. It’s got that perfect balance of mystery, horror, and sci-fi that made the show so popular. The characters are captured perfectly, from the stone-faced science of Agent Scully to the lovably awkwardness of the Lone Gunmen. Even Skinner has that classic, perma-scowl that might as well have been etched by the gods of salt themselves. The best part is that the “What-If?” aspect doesn’t feel forced or gimmicky at all. The writer, Amy Chu, manages to create a character that is very much like Fox Mulder (maybe a little too much) and her presence doesn’t interfere with the flow of the story. She is very much her brother’s sister and while a little deviation in their characters would’ve been interesting, it’s expected that they would have very similar traits considering that they are related. Her existence is used to spur the plot along in a very organic, if not spooky way, adding very interesting twists to an already fun concept.
Seeing as how the Deviation event is an annual occurrence, this is not the first time that IDW has featured Samantha in place of Fox. At last year’s Deviation event, she made her first appearance in a one-shot and had proved so popular, that IDW brought back the three original contributors to the newest issue. Chu, along with illustrator Sylvia Califano and inker Elena Casagrande, work together to continue the Samantha Mulder legacy with smooth illustration, sharp inking, and natural back and forth dialogue that’ll have fans clambering for X-Files re-runs. Their dedication to making an authentic experience is much appreciated, especially since it so easy to slack on the finer points of comic making when handling a pop culture item. They understand that despite the popularity of the X-Files franchise, its reputation alone doesn’t bring in the fans; it’s the attention to detail and respect for the series that pays the bills. In fact, it’s probably what allowed IDW Comics in general to hold onto the comic rights for the X-Files for as long as they have. They really give it the five star treatment.
X-Files Deviations is coming to a comic shop near you on March 1st!
Words: Svetlana Fedotov