Issue number two of "Origins" continues the separate stories of 12-year-old Fox and 13-year-old Dana as they investigate mysterious and tragic goings-on around their childhood homes.
When we left young Fox in the woods at the end of issue #1, he was face-to-face with a bright, possibly paranormal, light. Issue #2 opens with the discovery that the source of the light is nothing more than a flashlight. Unfortunately for Fox, the light is being held by his father. Bill Mulder takes the boys home and reprimands Fox for being out in the woods at night, softening slightly on hearing that his son was following people into the woods in the belief that they might be the same ones who took his sister several months earlier. He quickly sends his son to bed after banning him from hanging out with the other boys.
Of course, twelve-year-old boys aren’t known for heeding their parents wishes, and the very next morning Fox meets up with Eric who has been ordered to spend the rest of his summer washing up lab equipment at the Oceanographic Institute where his father works. In a moment of pure serendipity of the sort that only ever happens in fiction, this is the same Institute Fox’s father insists the mystery men must have come from, and so Fox asks Eric to become their inside man.
Fox takes a walk back to the beach in the hopes of finding anything that may have been left behind by the men. Instead, he spots a young, skinny, blonde haired girl watching him who vanishes into the woods. Fox gives chase, wanting to speak to her, and soon quite literally stumbles across the evidence he was seeking. A sharp piece of strange metal surrounded by green goo.
Later that day, Fox returns with Eric and Tim to show them the object. After just a few seconds, Tim spots the same girl watching them from the tree line and yells at her to leave. “No girls allowed,” he shouts to Fox’s obvious annoyance. The boys wrap up the metal in a shirt and collect some of the goo before following the trail of it through the woods where it leads straight to Eric’s house.
Eric’s father, who bears an uncanny resemblance to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s Uncle Phil, is angry at Eric for sneaking out again, but Fox pulls the puppy dog eyes trick he would later perfect on Scully and blames himself in the hopes of gleaning some more information. The boys show Eric’s father their evidence, and despite his laughter and assertions that what they have discovered is no more than a piece of lawnmower and some antifreeze, Fox spots a look in the man’s eyes that tells him he is hiding something. Fox and Tim leave, still clutching their prize, while Eric is sent to his room, his father watching him climb the stairs with worry written all over his face. Returning to the living room, Eric’s father meets with a gentleman in full military uniform who heard everything. “We’ll have to do something about those boys”, he says sternly.
On the west coast, we left Dana frozen in the middle of the road, facing the headlights of an oncoming car. When we return, she is still there, frozen, until another girl - Mercy - leaps from the sidewalk and pushes her out of the way. Mercy is young, skinny and has long blonde hair, making her clearly similar to the girl young Fox spotted in the woods - they even wear similar clothing. Dana and Mercy walk home through the base, sharing tales of Navy brat childhoods, until Dana thanks her for helping her and calls her her “lucky charm”, something that clearly doesn’t sit right with Mercy.
Dana stays up late, lost in thought, waiting for her father to return so he can read to her as they are working through Moby Dick together. When he finally arrives, he apologises that tonight’s chapter will have to wait thanks to a “sea of paperwork.” Sending her to bed, he quickly asks if there was a deeper reason for her waiting up for him. "It can wait” she says quietly without going back.
That night, Dana sits up in bed writing in her diary by the light of her flashlight. She admits that she struggles to talk to her father about her problems, worried that her concerns about math homework will seem “stupid” to a man used to commanding battleships. She also considers that God is trying to send her a message through the death of Mr. Wilson and her near-accident on the road, but isn’t sure she even wants to know that that message could be. Early the next morning, the same car that nearly ran her down is parked outside Miramar base watching the young petty officer who got into trouble with Rear Admiral Scully in issue one.
Later that day, Dana bumps into Mercy at the base play park and tells her about the murder of her Sunday school teacher. Mercy encourages Dana to investigate the death, seeing as how the police appear uninterested, and the two head to the crime scene with a Polaroid camera in tow. Although unsure as to what exactly they’re looking for, Mercy spots what appears to be a series of strange symbols painted on the mailbox in blood.
Dana takes the photo to the local police department where she meets with a detective who has been taking lessons from 70s cop shows. Ignoring the evidence completely, the detective simple rants that “a crime scene is no place for girls” and sends Dana on her way. Now even angrier at having been called Nancy Drew, Dana becomes more determined than ever to solve the case and decides to take the fictional girl detective as a personal role model.
Heading back to the crime scene, she begins knocking on doors asking locals for any information they might have. Finally, one door pays off, an old lady reports having seen men sitting in a car watching the house. As they talk, we realize two men are still sat watching. One calls in to report “the Scully kid” sticking her nose into the situation. His contact is revealed to be a senior Navy man working with Admiral Scully’s problematic petty officer at the base. “This Dana Scully is becoming a problem,” he says with a sneer.
Issue #2 continues to keep Mulder and Scully’s stories running parallel, without ever copying from one another. Both kids find themselves helped along the way by a girl with long, blonde hair, both discover evidence that is dismissed by the adults and authority figures around them, and both are managing to attract the attention of the military higher ups. It’s a clever way to keep both stories feeling like part of a whole package without having the two main characters interact with one another in ways that would go against the canon.
In this month’s issue, I found myself slightly preferring Mulder’s story. Although slightly implausible in places - would our mysterious men in the woods really have left behind such an obvious trail - the tension between the boys and their conspiracy-laden parents helps add another layer to a story that could easily step into fairly standard “Boy’s Own” territory.
That being said, I also deeply enjoyed the more introspective moments of Scully’s story as she wrestled with the big questions of the universe and the first moment she comprehends her own mortality. Her admission that she had always feared the death of her father (and thus the pair of them never finishing Moby Dick together) but never imagined that something could happen to her instead, is a big step for a teenager to make, and we get to see her wrestling with that new reality.
Once again the artwork really adds a lot to the story, capturing both Scully’s isolation and determination, and Mulder’s increasing depression and simmering anger at the world, without the need for words. This is a wonderful mini series so far and, once again, I’m eager for the next issue to come out.