Last month, Joe Harris began a journey down a dark and mysterious path. This month, he continues laying the groundwork and starts revealing some secrets from this intriguing case. “Came Back Haunted - Part Two” is the second in a five-part series and looks like it could be shaping up to something pretty cool. Hit the jump for the spoilerific recap and review.
We open in a flashback, eighteen months ago in Hungary. Syrian refugees are in what looks to be a labor camp, or perhaps a cult? Mysterious voices permeate the people’s psyches as the boss/leader berates the refugees “affront” of “loosing dark things…” A father and son are front and center. The father advises the kid not to look.
“Look, speak, listen,” the voices implore.
I still have no idea what’s going on. But the art is ominous and the colors are brooding and I’m intrigued.
Cut to the plane Mulder is on after another classic Mulder!Ditch last issue.
He, too, is hearing voices. “Look… act.” He seems pained and bumps into a kid before escaping to the bathroom. Mulder experiences a vision of the flashback scene as a gun is pointed at someone. “Sees…” the voices cry. “Knows…” A flight attendant knocks on the door, as the vision continues. It’s the boy’s father and as he lays on the ground, the leader points menacingly to the kid. The flight attendant implores Mulder to vacate the restroom as the flight is ready to land. The vision ends with the kid seemingly possessed by this affliction, he, too, now hearing the voices.
Mulder lunges out of the bathroom, feeling a little better but now hearing the voices even louder. Act. Needs. Wants. Kills.
This can’t end well.
Finally, we’re back in D.C. with Scully the next morning, who still hasn’t received a courtesy call from Mulder and is at Skinner’s office, worried about him. She barges in on Skinner but he isn’t in the mood to analyze where Mulder is. He’s under pressure to keep a lid on this case. Trillions of dollars of private military contracts are on the line with this case and Skinner isn’t too sure he wants to dig into this can of worms. He claims it’s for their safety and doesn’t seem at all worried about Mulder, dismissing Scully’s concerns. The lady is not amused and sends him a pointed skeptibrow™ on the way out.
Back in Budapest, Mulder has arrived at customs but he’s not doing too well. The guards think he’s drunk, but another man appears from behind them and intervenes, taking Mulder away for questioning. This man, too, has the fiery eyes and hears the voices.
One of us. One of us. One of us, I think. Still no idea what’s going on, but it can’t be good.
In D.C., Scully meets with Ben-Brahim, the director of the refugee foundation. She hints heavily that Mulder is in trouble and he hints heavily that he knows something, and Scully questions him about Fayed’s final words, an ancient Bedouin chant. Ben-Brahim reveals it has happened before to a man in the so-called “safe zone” for refugees, who’d gone on to kill his family and then himself.
He doesn’t answer any of her questions but he does promise some explanations if she’s willing to wait a little longer. She doesn’t really have a choice and hopeful Scully has once again turned to angsty Scully. Can this woman never catch a break?
Back in the interrogation room, the mysterious man is mysterious, goading Mulder into admitting he hears the voices and sees… I have no idea what he’s supposed to be seeing but the man is pretty sure Mulder’s seeing it. Poor Mulder is so confused and fighting whatever is happening to him. Meanwhile, the strangers grabs a pen and scrawls ‘be ready’ onto some paper before striking a match and setting it ablaze. Mulder’s eyes light up with fire and the voices tell him to resist. The man tells Mulder to seize the lucid moments when he can before telling him he has seen the “holes in the sky.”
Whatever these holes are, they must be pretty damn terrifying, because he then proceeds to grab a pair of scissors and stab himself in the eye while the rooms burns.
That escalated quickly. “Joined,” the voices say into the black.
At home, Scully does some Googling and pensively waits on the sofa. The phone rings; it’s Ben-Brahim. He tells her that Mulder may have been targeted by forces intent on causing damage to all the good things civilization takes for granted. He tells her he’s coming to get her and he will explain on the way.
We cut between D.C and Hungary as Ben-Brahim arrives in style to pick her up in a helicopter while in the camp/cult/whatever it is, the leader berates the blindfolded refugees some more before telling them they have been “delivered.”
“Are you coming or not?” Ben-Brahim asks Scully.
Where?” she asks.
“Home,” the voices reply to Mulder as he trudges along the line of refugees.
The issue fades to black.
I still have no idea what’s going on. But I am invested, so credit to Joe Harris for laying the foundations for an interesting storyline.
Overall, the issue felt dark, and a little slow-paced. At times I found myself a little confused and had to go back and really look at the art to figure out what I was supposed to be reading. The story sometimes felt a little too vague on the mystery side of things and I wished for a little more dialogue to speed things along.
Speaking of the art, Matthew Dow Smith did an excellent job. I felt Scully’s irritation and frustration at being dismissed at every turn and her likeness was spot on. I felt Mulder’s pain and confusion, and even minor characters were well drawn and emotive. As is the case with comics, sometimes the art is more important than the words on the page and I really relied on it this time to make it through the story. Kudos to Smith for killing it this issue.
Colors are by Jordie Bellaire and it fit the mood of the story perfectly; firey and brooding for the flashbacks, dark and grey for Mulder, and realistic, if moody, for the present day and Scully’s journey.
There are only two covers this month. A photo cover for the Subscription cover which leaves a lot to be desired. It depicts a sweaty, sickly looking Mulder at an unflattering angle. Why? I ask. But the Regular cover by Menton3 is fantastic and more than makes up for the lackluster other one. It’s a close up of Mulder’s face and focuses on those gorgeous eyes. We have a winner!
“The X-Files #7 - Came Back Haunted, Part two” is available now from your local comic retailer.