Surrounded by mytharc-related story arcs Pilgrims and Monica & John is the two-part Immaculate. This story dells into more spiritual-religious themes, with angels, demons and the Church, echoing such episodes as 3X11: Revelations, 5X17: All Souls and 7X09: Signs and Wonders. And just when I thought that Season 10 would get its second purely new stand-alone story, the only other being #9: Chitter, Immaculate evolves into a Ten Thirteen cross-over and a teaser for a new IDW series coming in just a couple of months! More after the jump, including the vindication of a long-standing fan campaign!
Immaculate starts with getting both feet into very controversial territory for certain Bible Belt States in the USA: abortion, and protests against abortion clinics. By looking at photo evidence from the clinic, we see what looks like proof of the supernatural, with an aureole above Joanie and a presence behind her: this is a similar trick to ghost footage from 1X05: Shadows and 2X21: The Calusari. We get a priest who discusses with Scully and Mulder who investigates in a trailer park like in 5X12: Bad Blood, we have town secrets and hints at satanic cults. All of these elements perfectly channel the feeling from many X-Files episodes, which is once more a tribute to Harris’ appreciation and skills.
In the second part, let’s state this as the well-known phrase goes, we go back to Frank Black! The return of the beloved character from Milllennium had been teased at the end of the first issue (“Next issue: Millennial visions“) and Harris had promised a surprise guest star; unfortunately his identity was spoiled in advance of reading the actual issue #17 by the delay in its release; as a result, Frank Black was discussed in the New York Comic Con on October 10. In #17, Frank Black and his visions and his trademark coat are back; and this is the first we see of him in 14 years! A bit like in the cross-over episode 7X04: Millennium, we have Frank and Mulder discussing while Scully is investigating on her side, with autopsies and, as often happens, discussions with priests. We also see a briefcase with the Millennium Group ouroboros on it, like in the series finale 3×22: Goodbye To All That. And the story develops into a case of satanic possession, domestic terrorism and cult group mass suicide.
Ultimately, Frank’s involvement in the investigation is minimal — what’s more, there is little the FBI resolves here, apart from an illegal sexual relationship, and ends up with lots of bodies in its hands. Frank is his usual brooding self, musing about good and evil and being a man of thinking rather than of action. Mulder labels his visions as a definite psychic ability, which is a simplification — to be frank, what they were in the series depended on which period of the Millennium series one was watching. Frank also says that he doesn’t have anything to do with the Millennium Group and we don’t learn much more than that; also, the last we heard of it, the Group had dismantled, so as it turns out those who had found that this was too easy an end to the Group are proven right. Frank appears to be investigating on his own account; but then we don’t know who handed down the Millennium briefcase to Scully (maybe Frank who got access to Group material? maybe Frank is working for the Group after all? is he undercover?) — I suppose that we will learn more in the future Millennium comic.
So with this new cross-over the two big worlds of Ten Thirteen are once more presented to be one and the same. I was never convinced of the need to do that since each show’s worldviews, concerns and mythologies are very different, but here it is, and a good tease to more material. Maybe they can do a “Jose Chung Resurrected” issue now?
Colin Lorimer’s likenesses of characters and Joana Lafuente excellent use of colors (especially in Frank’s visions) have to be praised in these issues. It is good news that they will be handling the art in the future Millennium comic.
Because, yes, I was certain IDW was thinking about it ever since they got the license to X-Files comics and immediately got questions on Frank Black (see the 2013 San Diego Comic Con); and IDW made immediate use of its license on Carter material with a spin-off on the Lone Gunmen; Frank Black and Millennium was a natural next step. So Frank Black will be back in comic book form, with a five-issue story starting in January 2015, to be written by Joe Harris (and executive produced by Carter). Harris has proven he has a strong interest in the X-Files mythology, in Cold War era history and modern-day politics; I don’t know if his sensibilities are the most suited to the intensely spiritual or even religious world of Millennium, but I’m willing to discover where he wants to lead us, especially after that interview at CBR. Chris Carter and Lance Henriksen are highly enthusiastic — and the friends at Back To Frank Black must be ecstatic!