“Came Back Haunted” kicks off what promises to be an exciting ride in part one of a five-part series. Though mainly a setup for what’s to come, the issue is fast-paced and has a foot placed solidly in current events, tethering the forthcoming myth arc to reality.
Hit the jump for the full recap and review.
We open in New Jersey as a man prays. We follow him as he goes about his routine, down a street as he’s harassed by unknown voices. “Leave me alone,” he chants. But the voices don’t let up and he collapses to the ground before revealing he’s wearing an explosive device.
The man ignites himself and the cold open closes on a terrifying close-up of the man’s eyes as he’s engulfed in flames.
After the jump, we join the man’s wife and son in their home as the FBI questions them. It’s revealed Mr. Fayed had been acting anxious lately. The son is defensive as Mulder and Scully enter the scene, and Mulder notices a picture on their wall. Meanwhile, we learn the family are recent immigrants to the country, protected by refugee status. Mulder pipes up, revealing they traveled through the Biharia region along the Hungary-Romania border. We’re left to wonder how he knows this, but I’m sure the picture has something to do with it. The wife says they walked for weeks through rain and mud and “terrible” things. They were sponsored and brought to America to be “safe”. Safe from what, I wonder. It feels like more than just the horror of your everyday refugee crisis and that the family isn’t letting the agents in on everything they know.
After the meeting, we rejoin Mulder and Scully outside as he quips about the “great state of New Jersey” not bringing them any lighthearted moments for the old scrapbook. Meanwhile, Scully questions how he knew they travelled across southern Europe by a photograph. It’s a very Mulder-Scully moment and I swoon a little. This panel could be ripped from any episode of the television series and I am reminded how much I miss the good old days.
Mulder goes on to explain to Scully that the Biharia region is home to the infamous Hoia-Baciu forest that’s the only place in the world where trees grow at that certain angle in the picture. Also? It’s haunted. And there’s the Mulder we all know and love. Scully, being the voice of reason points out that the region is also known to be home of some of the biggest xenophobic backlash to the current refugee crisis. Mulder admits that the place is basically a tourist trap at this point, which brings Scully to wonder what the family was doing taking pictures at said tourist trap while trying to migrate?
Cut to FBI headquarters, where AD Skinner is waiting for them with a Mr. Firas Ben-Brahim who helms a charity foundation that sponsors refugees. We spend the next few panels learning of the refugee crisis and I thought Harris did a good job handling the situation with sensitivity while also laying the groundwork to cast doubt about Qasim’s motives.
While Skinner navigates the politics combined with the work that needs to be done, Firas flirts a little with Scully and takes his leave. Skinner tasks the agents with the case in Washington while Agent Copeland will continue on scene. It’s a delicate matter, which seems to require all hands on deck. Scully is sent to Media Forensics to search surveillance footage while Mulder is tasked with going over Ben-Brahim’s Shyma Foundation.
As Mulder leaves, Fayed’s son meets him in the garage and hops into his car with him. The boy insists that his father was a good man, not like what is being said on television, and he tells Mulder that they don’t have much time. “They’re almost here!” The boy talks about the “dark wood” – the place from the photo in the house – and points out in front of them.
“Do you see them?” he asks, and Mulder seems confused.
Ahead, we see a group of men standing at attention and looking very foreboding. The kid tells Mulder that not everybody can carry “them” and that they prefer a worthy host, not a weak one.
“Who am I carrying?” Mulder asks, still baffled.
“They will guide you,” the kid replies and gets out of the car. “They believe you are strong enough. You will need to be.”
And with that, Mulder’s car drives off into the darkness and we cut to Scully at the FBI lab at Quantico.
The surveillance footage hasn’t revealed much but there is some surprising information. Though it looks like Mr. Fayed was praying, the linguistics department has found that what he was saying was not a prayer from the Quran, Bible, or any other religious texts. Scully is handed the report and Agent Dawes is apologetic for it not being helpful. Though we are not privy to its contents, Scully seems surprised and perhaps a little scared, demanding a full report to be sent to Skinner immediately.
I have no clue what’s going on, perhaps because I am new to this series and have missed something in previous installments, but I find it very intriguing and I need to know what the hell is happening!
In the parking garage, we catch up with Fayed’s son, Mohammed, who is surrounded by the shady characters from earlier. They interrogate him, wondering how he has passed them along. A woman steps forward and placed her hands on the kid’s eyes. She hopes he is still carrying some of them and wants to know if he can still see them. She’s aggressive and demanding and as she places her hands on the kids he screams and we cut to the airport.
Mulder isn’t answering his phone and has a bunch of missed calls from Scully. She leaves a voicemail pleading with him to call her back. She says that he was right and that it definitely wasn’t a radicalized Islamic plot that led Fayed to take his life. But Mulder doesn’t take the call and instead boards the plane, the voices in his head echoing the ones that led Fayed to take his life. The final panel is an ominous one as we leave the issue on Mulder’s eyes, filled with fire.
Matthew Dow Smith provides the art for this issue and it is fantastic. Known characters are spot on and new characters are given life through the emotion drawn on their faces. Though lacking in detail, the style works well to get the ominous feel of the issue across.
Colors are by Jordie Bellaire. The tone is dark and the colors muted, but it goes well with the foreboding theme.
This month’s covers are varied but all rather well executed. The regular cover by Menton3 features current day Mulder and Scully, separate yet drawn together by a swirl of light. It’s nothing to write home about but you can’t exactly go wrong featuring the dynamic duo.
The subscription cover is a photo cover, and eye with an oily X in place of an iris. It’s one of my favorite promotional shots and I wish I could get it blown up full size and mounted on my wall.
The retailer incentive graphic cover is by far my favorite and I’m annoyed to report there’s no credit given; it’s the one that seems to go along with the series best and so I used it as the cover for this recap.
“Came Back Haunted” is available now at your local comic book retailer. Stay tuned next month for the continuation of the series, “Jet Set.”