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Our look back at the X-Files comics published by Topps in the mid-1990s continues with issue #5: "Firebird Part Two of Three". Last issue we left Mulder in a destroyed military complex with a monster that looks like something Steve Jackson might draw on a new Munchkin card. Find out what happens next after the jump.

Title: Firebird 2/3 or "Crescit Eundo"

Writer: Stefan Petrucha
Illustrator: Charles Adlard
Published: May 1995
Currently Available: X-Files Classics Volume 1





5 Cover


"Scully! Don't look! Just run!" That's how Mulder begins this issue, and I can't say I blame him. We open back in White Sands as Mulder runs out of the building carrying the now unconscious shaman, Khobka, in his arms. The scene is overlaid by a gorgeous Scully monologue in which she discusses her personal world view in terms of the scientific method and compares it to Mulder's. As we turn that page to reach the titles Scully also turns in order to close the door behind her, catching a good look at the monster called "firebird" behind them as she does.


The agents slam the door together while Scully tries to wrap her head around what she has just witnessed. They escape outside but of course this is The X-Files so it's never that easy. There's as much danger outside as there was in, and seconds later they're being fired at by the hazmat-suit-wearing anonymous government goons so frequently seen on the show. This particular batch are even worse shots than the Stormtroopers in Star Wars. I counted at least ten of them, all armed - mostly with machine guns - and standing no more than twenty feet from Mulder, Scully, and Khobka, - yet somehow they still manage to miss entirely and allow our intrepid heroes to escape (while holding up an injured man), steal a conveniently parked jeep, and ride off into the desert in a glorious panel that's more Indiana Jones than X-Files!


5 Panel 1

Out in the desert the jeep runs out of gas stranding our agents in a valley. Mulder disappears, ostensibly to find help, leaving Scully behind to care for Khobka. As he walks away Scully picks up her opening monologue, telling us how sometimes she wants to "drop even the pretense of argument" and agree with Mulder's crazy theories, but before she "can say anything, he's gone." Her monologue continues as we watch her handle Khobka going into cardiac arrest. I love the moment when she admits that the situation almost makes her feel good because it is something she understands and knows how to respond to - it's a confession that feels deeply "Scully".

We cut away from Scully to home video tape filmed by locals which clearly shows Mulder being taken into custody, and cut again to a desert highway at night where a local watches the horizon through binoculars (while the friendly fox from last issue wanders nearby) and spots a presumably exhausted and dehydrated Scully dragging her patient toward the road. We don't see it but he must rescue her because soon she is at the local hospital talking to a doctor about Khobka. It's his prayers which take over the issue's narration when we cut once again, this time to a group of soldiers out in the nearby desert. A sudden coldness envelopes them and we see tentacles as their faces become skeletal and crumble away. Khobka prays that Mulder helps the firebird, lest he "consume the Earth".

5 Panel 2

Mulder of course is not in much of a position to help. He's sarcastically responding to questioning by a bunch of men in black suits and sunglasses and earning himself a slap across the face for his efforts. The following pages jump between Mulder's escape into the ventilation system when he's left alone for a few minutes, and Scully's questioning of Khobka now the hospital has located a translator for them. He tells her about the time the "firebird" destroyed his village and how, too young to know better, he took the strange golden egg we have seen him clutching from the crash site. He passes it on to Scully, asking her to protect it from the "faceless men" which she agrees to do.

Mulder meanwhile is still sneaking around in the vents listening in on conversations. Soon he manages to steal a VHS tape which shows the events which destroyed White Sands. Back at the hopsital Scully, still unsure about what has happened to Mulder and if he is even alive, decides to start researching the strange egg artifact which she recognises as having constellations engraved on its surface. After making a little headway she heads back to speak further with Khobka only to discover him being taken away by more of the men in black suits and sunglasses who Mulder is currently hiding from. The men all call one another by obvious codenames - Mr Black, Mr Grey, Mr Blue etc - which make all these scenes feel like a missing moments from Reservoir Dogs. Mulder manages to attach the tape he stole to the underside of a wastebin lid and hurl it frisbee style from a window before being re-captured. Across town the men in suits are also now hunting Scully through the hospital. She hears them announce they will "shoot to kill" but before they have the chance she jumps out and shoots them both to escape.

5 Panel 3

The issue closes on Mulder, cuffed and once again in the custody of the colourful men in black. He playfully asks them what they believe it would take to topple their organisation. His suggestion that revealing proof of their lies and endangerment of the public would do it is met by laughter as they push him inside a small "war room". Inside is a horseshoe shaped table seating a number of clearly high-ranking government and military men (yes they're all men, as were the goons). "Congratulations Agent Mulder," one says, "you've finally found us."

This month's letters page, titled "Know Your Exits", is an international affair again with comments arriving from both sides of the Atlantic. There's an amusing anecdote about why Scully has been blonde in the last few issues, it happened because the editor told the colorist that her hair in #1 was too dark and requested he lighten it - which was taken a bit too far! Stefan weighs in on the single issues vs arcs debate, explaining how he believes the single issues are great for "short, shocking ghost or horror" stories, while more mytharc style tales require multiple issues. Finally he talks about memory being one of "the main themes" of the first 12 issues. Perfect for our Throwback Thursdays then



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