Tony Black reviews issues #16-17 of The X-Files: Season 10 comic run, ‘Immaculate’…
Written by Joe Harris
Art by Colin Lorimer
Following the huge dose of mythology, it makes a lot of sense for Joe Harris to switch gears for Season 10 and tell a story covering the other large scale mythology that was prevalent in The X-Files universe: demonology. ‘Immaculate’, in both parts, is a close as an episode of Millennium, The X-Files spin-off series, as Harris can realistically get away with in the prism of Mulder & Scully, and that’s regardless of the fact Millennium‘s protagonist Frank Black himself crops up in the story to provide a specific tether to that show. It’s a dark and sinister tale which connects the thorny subject of abortion, and militant-right-to-lifers, with the Devil’s continued corruption of the innocent. Even without much time in which to tell his story, Harris paints a creepy tapestry alongside artist Colin Lorimer to strong effect.
Joanie Cartwright is a young girl who, in a great opening hook, walks pregnant into an abortion clinic which promptly blows up while she walks away without so much as a scratch. It’s enough to have A.D. Morales (who by the way we know now is in the Syndicate’s pocket, so keep that in your minds eye) assign Mulder & Scully to look deeper as a strange presence appears on video footage – and while Harris oddly doesn’t tap into the maternal aspect around Joanie’s connection to a demonic force from Scully’s perspective (given her angst as a mother), he does capture that element whenever the duo faced a case with religious overtones, i.e. Scully being the one taking a leap on theories while Mulder quickly tries to rationalise everything out and move on. That’s present in Harris’ writing and while it’s subtle, as is Scully priming her own religious convictions, it’s definitely there.
Lorimer gives us some striking and scary imagery in his panels too across the story, which helps illuminate the sense of enigma in Harris’ writing about just what is happening to Joanie, and in truth ‘Immaculate’ is a story more about mood and atmosphere than everything tying up at the end. Frank’s inclusion is perhaps a little forced and out of the blue, as are mentions of the Millennium Group and suggestions of a connection, but they’re welcome and he’s captured well, even if he doesn’t particularly provide much in terms of story except someone for Mulder to bounce off; a little more understanding and motivation as to why Frank was there might have been welcome, but these are the restraints of just having two parts, and Harris is wisely more concerned with keeping the plot moving and allowing for the demonic, Satanic imagery to leap off the page.
Though not the strongest ‘episode’ of Season 10, ‘Immaculate’ is a welcome change of gear from the long-form mythology, tells a creeping and unnerving story which does touch upon a thorny issue in abortion rights, and weaves an enjoyable connection to Millennium in the bargain. It’s certainly an X-File you can imagine the show having made and it may well leave you slightly chilled, come the open-ended and devilish denouement.
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