Left in the middle of nowhere, tripping out of his head, Mulder embarks on what he thinks is a quest for the truth and evidence that will lift the lid on the mysterious G-23 (a hallucinogenic drug that holds a rep even more bad ass than anything used in the X-Files’ interpretation of MKUltra). Will he survive the trip? Will we?
The truth is out there
I think the most intriguing aspect of this issue is how Joe Harris progressed from the straight up conspiracy elements of the previous issue and turned it into a “vision quest” for Mulder, as he went looking for the source of what his father originally moved him to pursuing. Or as Mulder says to a hallucination of Scully:
“I’m gonna go find my spirit animal now and sweat out the rest of this vision quest. Thanks .”
But it really does grapple with some of Mulder’s fundamental drives as a character: that he’s on a constant pursuit of the truth and that he wants the government brought to account for what it’s done. Certainly, when coupled with the first part, this issue really helps to round-out how you understand Mulder, building much on the motivations that were once explored in the actual TV series. It also helps to show how his opinions of his “father”, Bill, have had a chance to mature with age – he’s no longer so angry with his father and that’s nice to see.
The trippy art of Tom Mandrake and flowing colours of Sian Mandrake really help to bring home the idea that Mulder is on this journey that’s questioning his continued existence. And they manage to create some of the creepiest looking aliens I’ve seen in the X-Files’ universe to date, with added glowing red eyes that really made the hair prickle on my neck when I saw they’d surrounded Mulder.
Despite all this, I was kind of disappointed with what happened with Langly. I wasn’t expecting Langly to have a huge role in this issue, but the way his drug experience was handled was a bit too throwaway and stereotyping the character, as it’s revealed that his bad trip includes Frohike showing up and looking like he now suddenly works for “The Man”. Props for showing what Langly experienced, but it didn’t seem authentic enough for the character for it to matter in the grand scheme of the X-Files story, and offered only a small bit of comic relief.
This is not a point for new readers to get involved with the series, though if you’ve ever been a bit confused about how Mulder feels about his dad, Bill, then this and the previous issue will really help flesh this part of Mulder out for you. I felt like things could have been a bit more dramatic, but I do like how it turned into a spiritual quest for Mulder to gain a deeper understanding of himself. It’s certainly worth checking out if you’ve ever wanted to understand Mulder just that bit more.
The X-Files season 10 issue 20 “G-23, Part 2” is out now. Our reviewer bought their own copy.