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The X-Files #10

Review by Paul Bowler

A chance meeting for FBI Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files #10 uncovers new clues to the secret involvement of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s and now defunct Syndicate’s role during the Iran-Contra affair. Following the success of the X-Files triumphant return in the Fox TV event series in 2016, Mulder and Scullys investigations into conspiracies, the unexplained, and strange extraterrestrial phenomena continues in this issue of the all-new ongoing X-Files comic book series from IDW Publishing, written by Joe Harris, with art by Greg Scott, and colors by Wes Dzioba, together with the participation of Chris Carter.

The X-Files #10: Contrarians Part 1, marks the start of a new two part storyline, and wrier Joe Harris weaves an ominous blend on mystery, politics, and intrigue with a flashback to a pivotal moment in history during a broadcast from the Oval Office by President Regan… one that it seems was overseen – in more ways than one – by the most nefarious and ruthless member of the Syndicate; the Cigarette Smoking Man!

Meanwhile, in the present day, Mulder encounters a destitute old man with a message for him. As Mulder and Scully investigate, they discover links that connect the Iran-Contra affair, a strange new metal, and the action of the Cigarette Smoking Man…


Joe Harris has crafted a terrific issue of the X-Files here, one that very much reflects the tone and style of The X-Files fourth season episode Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (written by Glen Morgan and James Wong) from 1996, which also delved into the sinister past of the series’ most prominent villain and his involvement in key historical moments and assassinations during his rise to power. Contrarians Part 1 is very much in the same vein, only this time we see the Cigarette Smoking Man using his power and influence over a fatigued President, but it is the chilling flashback mid-way though the issue to events in Nicaragua that really show just how far-reaching and manipulative the Cigarette Smoking Man’s grand designs had become.

Greg Scott’s artwork seamlessly brings the separate eras of the story together as one. The panel layout is unfussy, but there is a distinct edge and pace to every scene, bold close-ups, panoramic flashbacks, and the clever use of angles and perspective all conspire to immerse you in the stories multifaceted layers of intrigue. The scenes in the White House are especially powerful. Scott’s rendering of all the characters is also absolutely spot on; and at times the likenesses are quite uncanny. Wes Dzioba’s subtle use of color and shade enhances every scene, ominous tones dominate the White House broadcast, while more vivid hues match the contemplative silence of Mulder’s office, but it is the grainy, almost newsreel-like quality to The Cigarette Smoking Man’s secret meeting in Nicaragua that proves the biggest – and most shocking – highlight of this issue.

The X-Files #10 builds towards a fittingly bizarre and unexpected cliff-hanger, when Mulder’s acquisition of declassified memorandums leads his investigation towards another fateful encounter, one where the past isn’t quite as dead and buried as either Mulder or The Cigarette Smoking Man would like to believe…

This issue exemplifies that unique blend of fact, fiction, and the ambiguous that always makes The X-Files so compelling and thought provoking. The X-Files #10 presents us with yet another fascinating insight into The Cigarette Smoking Man’s actions and motivations, Joe Harris, Greg Scott, and Wes Dzioba have done a fantastic job with this issue, and I’m intrigued to see how the Contrarians story-arc will be resolved next issue. The Truth is out there! So, if, like me, you’re a fan of the X-Files and loved The X-Files 2016’s special TV event series, then IDW’s X-Files comic is most certainly for you, I’d highly recommend it, and there’s plenty here for new fans to enjoy as well.

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Writer: Joe Harris / Art: Greg Scott

Colors: Wes Dzioba / Letters: Chris Mowry