When we last left the dynamic duo, Dana Scully was in trouble, her car having flipped, and her life on the line as a crazed stalker with a vague connection to her deceased father, William held her captive. Somehow, the man has a supernatural connection in regards to the affair Scully’s father had with a woman he met during his service in Vietnam. Part one left me hanging, excited and hoping for answers.
Hit the jump to find out if Part 2 delivered.
We open on the roadside, Scully inside her flipped car and self-diagnosing herself as having a shoulder dislocation and a likely concussion. Aw, Scully, never change. Meanwhile, our stalker arrives on the scene; he's muttering to himself about visions from the past while also channeling Scully. We flip back and forth between the present day and Captain Scully in the past as he uses a payphone to call in his own emergency.
Cut to the Shady Grove trailer park where Scully is held captive in her stalkers home, the place is wall-to-wall pictures of Dana. Clearly, the man is obsessed.
Back at the FBI Mulder is doing a little research into Scully’s problem, and comes to his own conclusions after reading the Moby Dick book she was sent. He heads off to Skinner’s office to request permission to get a warrant to look into Shady Grove. While there was no return address, there was an impression left on the book and since Scully hasn’t arrived for work, he’s getting worried.
While Mulder continues to give Skinner the info on Scully’s stalker, Marvin Kells, we follow along in the trailer. Apparently, Mr. Kells wanted to join the FBI but failed his psych evaluation. He spent some time as a private investigator before going to jail for illegal wiretapping and fraud, before finally being hospitalized for mental disorders. We’re not let in on what disorders those were. After he was released, the guy pretty much dropped off the face of the earth. Until now.
Marvin seems pretty traumatized from his visions of Ahab’s past and appears to have some kind of seizure as he gets to a part where Scully’s dad calls for her to wait.
Back at the FBI, Skinner gets a call regarding Scully’s overturned car and Mulder is gung ho to be off to rescue her while Skinner gets the warrant going.
As we rejoin Scully and Marvin, he is deep in his vision. Ahab and his lover are having one final confrontation while a young Scully watches from the shadows. As her dad tells his lover they cannot continue their affair, she pulls out a gun, pointing it at Ahab. Marvin mutters to himself in between visions that he wants Scully to “give it to him”. He wants her to face it and set him free. Still, we are not clear on what he wants or how any of this will set him free. Since we don’t really know what he’s suffering from, or why, it’s very hard to understand or feel empathy for him. Scully apparently does, though, as she has the chance to escape while he’s writhing on the floor but doesn’t.
Outside, the FBI is set to storm in and as they do, Marvin repeats the phrase, “Never seen… never seen.”
At an interrogation room, Mr. Kells is just as vague. Scully waits outside watching through the window, while Mulder and Skinner carry out the questioning. He repeats Mulder’s questions back to him, going as far as to say, “Derp, derpa, derp.” Not kidding, this makes no sense. The man is nuts. In a moment of apparent clarity, he tells Mulder “We know things about you too.” Who is "we"? We don’t find out because as Mulder gets angry, Skinner pulls him out of the room while they wait for Kell’s attorneys to show up.
Outside, Scully admits to Mulder that she could have escaped but that something he said made her stay. Only someone who had lived it would remember what he knew about the last meeting between her father and his lover. We are then treated to the climax of what Scully witnessed as Mai puts the gun in her mouth and pulls the trigger. Captain Scully calls the police and lies about what he knows, claiming he just happened to stumble across the body of Mai.
As Scully relives the moment, she realizes this is what Marvin wanted her to accept. He wanted her to remember and accept her father’s (pretty damn severe) failings. As Scully comes to this realization, inside the interrogation room Marvin slams his head against the table… and dies. “But is he really gone?” Mulder wonders.
The story ends.
Bad new, guys. I’m sorry to have to report that I’m pretty confused as to whom this stalker is, what exactly he wants, and how his powers even came about. For that matter, I'm not really even sure what they even are and what the point of focusing on Scully’s long-dead father’s transgressions is. Also, why should Scully pay for them? Hell, why, in the end, does Mr. Kells pay for them? How does any of this set him free? Other than that he's now dead and, I'm assuming, vision-free. So many questions, so little answers.
I’m disappointed because this story had great potential and could have been a truly emotional arc for Scully and a fun journey for readers. There are glimpses of a great story, the interactions between Mulder and Skinner are delightful as they discuss the best course of action to follow and the artwork is well done and mysterious, a little dark. But at the end of the day, I felt like I was left hanging with half a story and no real emotional bang for my buck. We now know Ahab’s dark secret, we know Scully witnessed it and has repressed it all these years, but when all's said and done, we didn’t really get anywhere with it.
Maybe it would have been wise to extend this to a three part series to fully flesh out the characters and their arcs, or maybe I’m just too sleep-deprived to catch on to where Harris was trying to take me. Either way, this storyline fell flat in an otherwise exciting series. That being said, I hope that doesn’t detract Joe Harris from trying again. I like the risk he took— branching away from the norm and trying to delve deep into a beloved character— I just wish it had been better executed.
The covers were all solid this issue, although my favorite was the regular cover with artwork by Menton3. RIP Queequeg. The subscription cover is a photo cover of CSM in shadow, and the retailer incentive cover also features the smoking man. No credit is given for it, but I like the style and CSM is always a favorite of mine, even if it’s not clear why CSM would be on the cover this issue. He plays no overt part in the story.
Huge props to Andrew Currie, his artwork was phenomenal and love to Sebastian Cheng, whose colors gave the story the right tone even if the meat of the story I found lacking.
The X-Files 2016 #4 - Ishmael #2 is available now at your local comic book retailer.