Those who are familiar with the site will know that I’m a huge fan of anything to do with Chris Carter’s Millennium TV series. I own the complete collection. I’ve got Back to Frank Black: A Return to Chris Carter’s Millennium sat on a shelf straight in front of me as I type this. It’s a horror TV series that people should watch. And I was ecstatic when its main character, Frank Black, made an appearance in a recent X-Files season 10 storyline. Now, with that out of the way…
Frank’s appearance in his own comic book series (only a miniseries for now) was inevitable once Joe Harris began writing the X-Files season 10 comics. The two worlds are linked, as evidenced in episode four of season seven, “Millennium”. Frank’s name was one Mulder knew before that episode, the former FBI’s reputation something that was well suited to an X-File of its very own. But this comic is set after all of that (apart from a bit of opening context). Frank is still “free” of the Millennium Group, which sought to bring about a cleansing of humanity through apocalyptic means. But he’s not free…
The first issue opens with a sweet flashback to Christmas Eve 1999, where (if you’ll remember) people were trying to celebrate Christmas but getting slightly panicky about whether the Y2K Bug/Millennium Computer Bug was going to lead to planes crashing out of the sky, banks left in ruin and all that other jazz that didn’t really happen. Or did it? There’s this great insinuation, as Colin Lorimer captures the former majesty of the World Trade Center in the distance, juxtaposed with the computerised, pixelated symbol of the ominous Millennium Group (an Ouroboros) and two members of the Millennium Group toasting to some evil plan, having just mentioned planes could drop out of the sky because of Y2K. It’s chilling and works, and helps Joe Harris set up just how evil the Group could be without really saying anything.
Flashback over, the issue switches to the present day, and an early release hearing for a prisoner that Mulder helped put away just as his career with the FBI was starting in the late 1980s. I liked how Harris worked in this side of Mulder, that there’s these cases that he keeps trying to stop coming back into the present – there was an element of this in the TV series. Tying this in with Frank Black’s concerns and his “gift” is just the icing on the cake. Unlike Frank’s appearance in X-Files season 10, we get a far more haunting representation of his ability to see into the minds of killers.
Lorimer and colourist Joana Lafuente manage to give Frank’s gift a more tangible existence on the pages of the comic than was done in the TV series. It’s creepy and sneaks into the pages as you read through the issue, but its representation is perhaps conflicting for fans, as it feels like it goes further than the flashes Frank would get on the show. At the same time, it really helps you to empathise with how it sneaks up on Frank when he least wants it to – that he’s never really free of this gift, or his past, because he knows what Mulder’s murderer has thrown his lot in with.
Harris’s choice of having Mulder ease us into Frank’s shoes is solid here, even though this isn’t an X-Files comic, because we’ve been without Frank even longer than Mulder. Of course I’m hoping that we’ll see things even more from Frank’s perspective in issue two.
Millennium issue one brings Frank Black out of the cold in all the best ways. Harris is respectful of the character and his, and Colin Lorimer and Joana Lafuente give Frank the clarity he needs in a story that’s going to get way more complicated before we have any answers. This is definitely a comic for the fans, but I’d like to think that even if you’re only previous experience of Frank Black was that season seven episode of The X-Files that you’d be able to appreciate what’s happening in this opening issue. Definitely worth giving this first issue a go.
Millennium issue one is out now and published by IDW. Our reviewer bought their own copy.