When we last visited The X-Files – Came Back Haunted series of comics I was… confused. Hit the jump to read our review and recap of The X-Files #9 – Came Back Haunted – Part 4 to see if there’s a light at the end of the multi-chapter tunnel.
We open to a pensive looking Scully, in a bathroom, in a… towel?
Last we saw her, she was mid-air and Ben-Brahim was needing assistance to land his private jet after the pilot had been killed. So, this is an odd place to start. The next panel, Scully enters a room back in her own clothes and it’s very important she lets him know this is what she wants. Did they just make love? Where her clothes in need of laundering after a crash? Why is she washing her hands after she’s clearly just stepped out of a shower? I have no clue what is happening. This is a theme with this series, so, I’m just gonna go with it.
Brahim wants Scully to come view the sunset over the ridge and she complies, asking him what this place is that they’ve arrived at. I’d really like to know how they arrived there. He informs her that it’s a community he has built where refugees may feel safe for the first time in, perhaps, years. The community is in the Canary Islands and is named “Shyma.” Scully seems suitably impressed.
As he takes Scully on the grand tour, Ben-Brahim informs her that his resources have narrowed down the search for Mulder to the Hungarian Border. Scully seems excited that they’ve found him but he tempers that by countering that they are “close.” He tells her that he has enemies and that Mulder seems to be in those same enemies’ way, as is she. He implores her to follow him a little longer.
Meanwhile, Mulder has somehow made it from the forests of Hungary to the Port of Sibenik, Croatia and we join up with him ten hours earlier.
A mysterious woman joins Mulder. Arguing ensues over a boat not arriving and the site being lost. Mulder seems pained by it all. Are these voices in his head, or an argument in the next room? The woman asks him if he thinks this is a game and Mulder states that if it is he isn’t enjoying it very much. I appreciate the Mulder snark even if I don’t know what’s going on.
The woman continues to taunt Mulder who seems just as confused as I am. She tells him that they liked him very much even though he didn’t have much to contribute to the community. The woman wonders what they might have contributed to Mulder. Field agents in her organization’s employ have detected an event that nobody had been expecting.
We cut back to Scully and Ben-Brahim. Scully wonders why it’s only he who is researching the weird affliction that Mulder and the previous victims seem to have contracted. Where is the EU or the WHO in all of this? He tells her that nations are failing the 21st century as we cut back to Mulder who seems to be having his head shrunk by the woman. He tries to say, “My name … is… F-F-Fah…”
Back to Ben-Brahim who tells Scully he can’t trust many people and also humblebrags about all the great things he’s been doing while they’ve been walking and talking. Scully doesn’t seem quite as impressed as he might have hoped for and we cut to Mulder who is being implored to tell the woman everything he has seen. The camera angle pans around and… her eyes are glowing.
It’s at this point we reach the end of the teaser and honestly… I’m sick of the glowing eyes thing. It’s less of a cliffhanger and more of an annoyance. Four comics in, I want to have some semblance of what on earth is going on. I don’t.
Over the Adriatic sea, an extraction team quietly arrives.
Mulder is mid-reverie and glowing eye lady seems a little annoyed that Mulder didn’t listen to the spirits (Spirits? Possibly. Let’s call them spirits for now) who spoke to him.
“Old ones return,” the voices say as the woman almost gouges out Mulder’s eyeballs in an attempt to get him to recall what he’s heard.
The extraction team approaches, with some bickering between them as to the best course of action, when gunshots ring out. One of the agents falls and the woman interrogating Mulder turns, irritated as the cavalry enters. Mulder implores them to chill out and not shoot him as he comes to his senses and tells them his name and that he is an American held against his will. It does the trick and the team wonders if they should bring the woman back too. Unfortunately, she’s dead. The glowing eyes transfer to the team member, because, of course they do.
Back in the Canary Islands, Ben-Brahim tells Scully about his daddy issues as he wraps up his tour, but Scully snarks him back down to her level with a comment about his “presentation” being effortlessly presented. She wonders, though, what is she actually doing there.
I’m glad I’m not the only one.
While Firas continues to espouse his momentous achievements and manly conquests, Scully points out he might want to add an antibiotic to the refugees’ regimen, as one seems a little ill. He pays her no mind and continues with his story of greatness. The whup-whup-whup of a helicopter arriving on scene is no match for his manliness and it takes Scully calling him by his first name to get his attention.
They make their escape while the extraction team demands the refugees get back to their shelters. Scully demands to know what’s happening as she’s led into a building on red alert. Ben-Brahim looks worried. Scully is increasingly scared and wondering what will happen to all the children they’ve just met. She thought this place was secure.
He assures her nothing is amiss and pulls out the “Dana” card before presenting her with… Mulder, who sits in a holding room of sorts.
The team leader reports that the mission was a success even though their contact didn’t make it back out. I’m assuming this is the glowing eyed lady laying dead in Croatia.
Scully is in full concerned doctor mode as she checks out Mulder’s scratched up face and heavily poked eye. Mulder isn’t quite sure he understands what he saw but he knows that the things out there spoke to him.
Ben-Brahim appears, to let them know that he’s glad Mulder is safe and that his “secondary jet” is fueled up and ready to take them home to Washington.
“What happened to his primary jet?” Mulder wonder-snarks.
It almost makes the series worth it.
Still, it’s a good question. Did Scully help land the plane? Did they crash? Did they ease them in for a smooth landing? I want to know all the things! I know none of the things.
Ben-Brahim also wants to know all the things and Mulder does his best to let him know what happened. He tells him that he was taken to the woods and that they were digging for something, that they wanted to show him something. He explains that it wasn’t the men there who wanted to show him things but the lights in the sky, or something…
The “holes in the sky,” the extraction agent with the glowing eyes interrupts, as he enters the room.
Mulder hears the voices telling him to look out as the agent pulls a gun. Ben-Brahim calls for security as Mulder fends off the madman. Ben-Brahim shoots him dead as Scully comes rushing inside to see what’s happening. Ben-Brahim exits the room looking concerned. Their sanctuary isn’t safe anymore and they will have to find a new location.
Scully asks Mulder what he heard and the voices compel him to remember. He has a vision of the Strughold Mining Company sign, and, Mulder being Mulder… he doesn’t tell her what he heard or saw but instead tells her to let him think on it. He thinks it’s pretty big.
And that… concludes The X-Files: Came Back Haunted.
First, the good news: Matthew Dow Smith delivers, as usual, with his artwork, creating feelings and mood where the story is lacking. The mytharc is intriguing, and maybe even a good concept, but four episodes in nothing has yet to be revealed other than that something is hopping from person to person and possessing them, making them do terrible things while trying to… I don’t know what they want.
And that’s where I come to the bad news: The narrative is all over the place, not making much sense and meandering in circles that only end in more people with eyes on fire and voices in their heads. There’s no conclusion to this conclusion and I’m left feeling irritated. I’m not sure if Ben-Brahim is a new ally like he presents himself to be or a skeevy antagonist hiding in sheep’s clothing. There’s a commentary to be found here regarding the current situation in the world, but I feel Harris missed the mark by leaning heavily on symbolism and the artwork and skipping out on the meat of the narrative.
I love a good cliffhanger, but, honestly, I feel like I wasted a few hours of my life with this series, having learned almost all I would learn in the first (and in my opinion, best) chapter of this storyline.
Next month, the series moves on to “Contrarians,” and I can hope all the tangled threads Harris has left dangling with this series will be threaded into a compelling storyline going forward.