21st Jan2016

‘The X-Files Vol.1: The Agents, The Bureau & The Syndicate’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Edited by Natalie Clubb | Senior Art Editor Rob Farmer | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 176pp


There was a time, pre-Netflix and Amazon Prime, when network TV ruled the airwaves in the U.S, and churned out a steady supply of middle of the road TV shows, firmly aimed at the ‘average viewer’ demographic. For the comic book/ science fiction fan like me there was very little to get excited about. Then The X-Files happened, and sent shockwaves through fandom. Here was a show seemingly made for us, made by geeks for geeks, and for several years it made us happy, appearing seemingly everywhere in comics, books, magazines, games, action figures etc. Then, after trailblazing the way for other shows, it faded away and became part of genre history.

Like all good things, The X-Files have returned to TV, and Titan Comics (have they put a single foot wrong of late, publishing wise? Their publishing strategy is superb) have decided to join in by publishing some refresher material to help either jog your memory, or serve as a good introduction to the world of Mulder and Scully. This is not a comic book, but a collection of articles, features and photos all designed to shine the spotlight on the X-Files world, mostly reprint material from a variety of sources with some new bridging and background material.

This volume is divided into four themed sections, covering all the main ‘introduction’ bases – The Agents, The F.B.I, The Syndicate, and The Show. Each section features the sort of thing you would expect, cast and crew interviews, character biographies, production and publicity stills, and story overview. The themed sections work well, and achieve what the editors were looking to do, which is to provide a fun piece of nostalgia for old time fans like myself (the set photos of the apartment made me smile) but being simple and clear enough for potential new fans to pick up.

Here and there the book does slip into being a bit too lightweight, throwing in some lists better suited to a teen magazine for example, or perhaps a photo or two too many to pad out that page count. Another observation, though not a criticism, is that by its nature the book gives away some elements of the show anyone starting from the beginning may not wish to know. It’s assumption, for better or worse, is that newcomers will start from the rebooted show, not the original 90’s one, and need to know the shocks and surprises up front (and that’s a lot of shocks and surprises!).

As a long-time fan I really enjoyed this book, and feel it does its job of introducing/ reviving the show very well. If I had to pick out a favourite section it would be the simplest, the Series Guide. It breaks down all episodes in all seasons, with a little plot synopsis, and made me mentally note to re-watch several episodes. The ‘Coolest Moments’ section is also useful for newbie’s, helping identify some of the best moments of the original series without having to re-watch every single episode.

Being mainly reprint material some of the content can look a little dated, but overall the book does its job well by providing all the background you need to either return to the show again, or discovering it for the first time. It’s something I’ll return to now and again as well, which is a definite compliment to the editorial team.

Pick this up, you won’t regret it.

**** 4/5


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