This month in The X-Files: Year Zero, #5 Karl Kesel brings the series to a satisfying close, answering all the pertinent questions while leaving the door open for much more should IDW choose to continue the series. I, for one, sincerely hope they do. Solid storytelling and gorgeous art has been the cornerstone of this limited-run series and issue five is no exception.
Read below the jump for the full synopsis and review.
Issue five picks up moments after where we left off last issue, in Egg Harbor, New Jersey at the diner. Mulder and Scully inquire about the two women they saw leaving, Aura Starlight and the woman claiming to be Dell’s mother, but the waitress doesn’t seem to buy her tale. Remember when I said the waitress was suspicious a few issues back? Well Mulder must remember too, because he accuses the waitress of being Dell’s mother. Ms. Savoy makes a few half-hearted denials while Scully is surprisingly open to Mulder’s claim, all culminating in Savoy suffering from a trance like state where she envisions Dell at gunpoint, causing her to pass out.
We end up in Ms. Savoy’s bedroom where Mulder has amused himself, while she was passed out and Scully was ‘medical doctoring’, by reading her diary. She has quite the bucket list, spanning decades; proof enough that Ms. Savoy is actually Dorothy Sears and much older than she appears. Mulder’s accusatory tone doesn’t bring any answers but Scully gets to the truth with a more compassionate approach, bringing about a relieved confession from Ms. Savoy. She is Dell’s mother, Dorothy Sears, and she has the gift of second sight. She saw Mr. Xero as her ticket out of 1940s misogyny. He promised her immortality in exchange for her playing his game. Not happy to exchange one prison for another, Dorothy learned to use her second sight to hide herself from Xero, something he was not cheerful about. Scully raises her Skeptibrow™, basically accusing Dorothy of abandoning her son for the same reasons, and Dorothy is about to argue her case when she remembers the motivation for her passing out: Dell is in danger! A wristband Dell had once given her provides her with a psychic link to her son, and he’s about to be hurt. She won’t abandon her son this time and she agrees to take the agents to him.
At the Pine Barrens, a ghost town, the agents and Dorothy make their way through the rubble of the once bustling settlement. Dorothy leads them directly to Dell, passed out and hurt, and Scully promises they will get him out. Not so fast though, the three goons are still there and they aren’t afraid of a couple of FBI agents. They have business to attend to and “there will be blood”. Dells, Dorothy, and Mulder and Scully’s specifically.
Mulder then comes to a realization. The Barrens are purportedly a dimensional gateway, and the pit and their blood will… Scully stops him there, ever skeptical, and the goons set the dogs on the group. Dell steps up then, using his psychic powers with animals to calm the rabid beasts into whimpering puppies. Unfortunately this angers the goons and they shoot Dell much to Dorothy’s horror. Dell is dying, the goons have the upper hand and it looks like all is lost, so Dorothy does the only thing she can: call on Zero.
In a flash of bright light, Zero appears, smug, knowing that this day would come. The confused goons wonder if Zero is from the FBI too but he informs them that no, he’s actually from the Zeta-Reticuli star system and promptly disappears the goons in a flash of white light. Scully, ever the law enforcement agent, is justifiably mad about this and confronts Zero. He is about to zap her into the ether as well when Dorothy intervenes, pleading for him to stop all of this and save Dell. She promises him herself if he will just save her son. It’s really rather touching. Zero seems to have a real fondness for Dorothy, she’s special, and he indeed does save Dell, much to Scully’s surprise.
Accepting her fate, Dorothy removes her wristband and asks the agents to give it to Dell. Mulder tells her that if she doesn’t want to go – but she cuts him off, the funny thing is, she does want to go. After all these years, she thinks she has more in common with Zero than anybody else. She’s preparing to leave when Mulder stops her; he has questions about The X-Files and Millie and Bing. Dorothy remembers Millie as “fiercely loyal - emphasis on fierce”. Bing she remembers as “no better man to have your back”. Zero then interjects to tease the agents that they don’t know Ellison or Ohio… yet.
And with that, it’s time for Zero and Dorothy to go. Only Dorothy has disappeared. Zero is furious, calling up lightning bolts from his hands and cracking the earth with his super powers. He promises to hurt both Dorothy and her son but Scully is having none of it. Zero asks how they think they can stop him and Mulder replies by saying that he will reveal Zero’s true name.
Zero thinks Mulder is bluffing. Mulder stands his ground, asking Zero to “try me”. Zero eventually folds under the threat, energizing away to wherever it is he goes. Scully asks Mulder what he knows and reveals that… he knows nothing. It’s very Mulder-like and I enjoyed the moment of humor.
Reading the case notes, we learn that the agents found Dorothy’s car abandoned and in it they found an updated version of her bucket list. An addendum at the bottom notes that she wishes to someday make it right with her son. It is unknown whether Zero caught up with Dorothy, and Dell Spoon recovered completely, although he refuses to discuss how or why Zero no longer visits him. It’s possible he has learned to stay in the ‘blind spot’ like his mother did.
Back in the basement, Mulder and Scully discuss the case. Scully points out that since they have now solved the original X-File, the reason the unit was created, it’s possible the division could be shut down. Mulder defiantly counters that somebody is always trying to shut down the X-Files.
Its 1947 now, at the FBI headquarters, and AD Carver is trying to convince Director Hoover himself that the X-Files should be shut down. Hoover counters back that Bing and Ellie are the perfect scapegoats should anything go wrong, and that he won’t be out-investigated by the United Nations who is also looking into the unexplained. Carver is not amused. Hoover isn’t either, and makes it clear that if Bing and Millie embarrass the Bureau, it will be on Carver’s head.
We jump to the sub-basement of the FBI and Bing and Millie are making themselves at home in their new office. The agents banter back and forth and we meet Ollie Cullens, a ham radio operator, mailman, and their new, conveniently already on the payroll informant. Bing and Millie have a moment, and I swoon a little.
Ollie hands over the mail and is on his way. It’s a letter… from Dorothy Sears. Just one word is on the piece of paper: Roswell. The very last thing Xero said to Bing.
The agents banter some more, arguing about how they should file the case reports. Bing sums it up in the final panel: “Bottom line is, these weird cases we’re looking into- past, present, and future – they’re all because of Mr Xero.”
“They’re all X-Files.”
And that concludes The X-Files: Year Zero.
I’ve made no secret of my love for this series. The storytelling has been consistently good, the art has been gorgeous, and I’ve found myself more in love with Bing and Ellie than I ever would have imagined going into the series.
Karl Kesel brought both the Mulder and Scully we all know and love to the pages, nailing their rapport, and also introduced us to Bing Ellison and Humility Ohio, the unfortunately named but just as loveable counterparts for the 1940s. Though the two pairs of agents are similar, they aren’t carbon copies, and I truly appreciated the focus on the 1940s agents as much I did the moments with Mulder and Scully.
Greg Scott and Vic Malhotra did an outstanding job throughout, nailing the characters of Mulder and Scully, and bringing life to Bing and Millie. I thought that this issue especially, the emotions were drawn beautifully and really played out well; it brought so much extra to the story, especially for Dorothy Sears.
The colors by Matt Lopes, as always, are gorgeous. This series has a certain look to it that I simply love, and a big part of that is the coloring.
On now, to the covers. If you’ve been following along with my recaps then you know of my love affair with the hard-boiled novel covers. This month is no exception. The subscription cover with art by Robert Hack and colors by Stephen Downer is another work of art that I’d be happy to have adorning my wall. That being said, Carlos Valenzuela outdid himself this month, and I adore the regular cover. Featuring Mulder and Scully with a menacing Xero above them, the colors are spectacular and it might just have won my vote for top cover this month. Let’s call it a tie.
The X-Files: Year Zero #5 is available today. Be sure to visit your local retailer to pick up a copy, or head on over to Comixology and grab yourself a digital version.