Joe Harris makes the brilliant choice to go back and shed some light on one of the more elusive X-Files characters and in doing so provides one of the most entertaining and illuminating chapters of the series thus far. This is a high point for the “X-Files Season 10” that’s brought to life by the haunting work of Menton3.
The Cigarette Smoking Man has been one of the most recognizable figures to emerge off the X-Files. He was nefarious in the course of the series and the revelations about his past served to humanize him in a staggering way. Harris wraps this month’s issue around the CSM, and sheds some light on the illusive figure once and for all.
The story is told almost entirely in flashback. We’re given brief hints to CSM’s military past, and who he was before the events of the series. These moments are poignant because they sow the seeds for disillusionment. Showing a man who was comfortable with being the ultimate tool of the government devolve into a pawn, and the rage that comes along with it.
There are beautiful moments in this issue. Seeing little Mulder run up to his father and having him say “The truth will set you free” shows a small moment that is seemingly responsible for everything. It’s just the type of flashback you want because it influences everything that came after organically.
Menton3’s work this month is more subdued than his usual efforts. Yet, it works to brilliant effect. The flashback sequences are drawn with a sense of old paper, as if Menton3 is helping you sort through coffee stained documents in a dingy basement. The color is sapped out.
When the color returns, Meton3’s vivid character work bursts onto the page and articulates the characters with such detail that it’s stunning. Plus, he finds time to work in one of his horrific creature designs. Possibly the best panel of a monster this series has seen yet.
This issue will burrow into the minds of long time fans. The ramifications are not necessarily clear, and the answers don’t really take the story in a new direction, but they offer so much insight into a character that you’ll come to see CSM with a new lens. He was betrayed, cast out, and before he was much like his own son. Perhaps even an idealist.
I could read a series of the young CSM’s adventures alone. Seeing the cancer man as a youthful protagonist was a refreshing breath of fresh air in a series that sometimes forgets to breath. I can’t recommend the issue enough since long time fans will finally get some answers that they seek and newcomers will be taken on a harrowing journey that destroys a man’s morals.
Rating: 4.5/5 Skulls.