There will be spoilers in this review.
Out in the desert, a substance that could bring euphoria or damnation to those that consume it, awaits to be uncovered. Meanwhile, Agent Mulder is having an impromptu lunch meeting with Cigarette Smoking Man and Mulder is not happy about this. But will he try to find out what G-23 really is and what role it plays in America’s past and future? It’s time to take a trip…
The plot is packed, but I just want to talk about the art of Tom Mandrake and the colour work of Sian Mandrake first. The pair have managed to bring together an issue that’s really detailed, but also reflects the visionary confusing nature of the story’s main plot device: a powerfully hallucinogenic and psychoactive drug. Everything looks like its tightly wound and just one step from spiralling out of control and this makes it a very beautiful issue. I really like the styles being used here, it fits really well.
Now, the story is packed. It’s got exposition, characterisation and mystery. Joe Harris has really managed to pique my interest, which is great as I was disappointed by the previous issue. We’ve got some nice historical X-Files elements at work in the issue: looking at the working relationship between Cancer Man and Mulder’s father, plus hints of a secret government project to create the trippiest drug ever during the height of the hippy movement. In the present, we’ve got Mulder getting super pissed off with whatever it is that Cancer Man is these days, and some fantastically snide comments from Mulder: he is delightfully biting in this issue. You really get an emotional handle on the character, Harris brings him out of the page a bit more than what he’s tended to achieve and it works really well.
I’ll admit, the end of the issue makes it look like there’s a threat that everything’s going to go a bit stoner movie crossed with government conspiracy movie. But I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised. And I loved how Harris used the Lone Gunmen this time. We haven’t had enough of them lately (yes, I know they had their own mini-series in the past twelve months but they are a welcome presence).
I wouldn’t say that this is a good storyline for new readers to pick up on if they’ve never watched the TV series. There’s a lot going on, mainly the dynamic between Mulder and Cigarette Smoking Man, that you’ll only really appreciate if you’ve followed the X-Files story beyond the first few seasons of the TV series. But overall, this was an enjoyable issue to read and I’m looking forward to the next one. Definitely worth reading.
The X-Files season 10 issue 19 “G-23, Part 1” is out now. Our reviewer bought their own copy.