Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Delilah S. Dawson
Art: Elena Casagrande & Arianna Florean
Witness the stunning conclusion to our first installment of Case Files! While investigating a rash of bizarre crimes in a small Florida town, Scully and Mulder find themselves in the clutches of an alligator-worshiping cult!
The second part of this opening salvo for the Case Files line of The X-Files comics unquestionably works better than the first. ‘Florida Man’ manages to do exactly what it says on the tin, ultimately; use its distinct tropical location to tell what, had it been an episode of the series itself, ended up a quirky stand-alone story in which FBI agents Mulder & Scully investigate a strange bit of weirdness in a small town and zip off to the next adventure.
After the first part of the story established the small Floridian town of Halpadalgi in which people were disappearing, there seemed to be the usual recalcitrant local Sherriff, and a clear social divide between the prosperous and the poor, ‘Florida Man’s concluding part gets a little more into the occult strangeness running across the entire story, with writer Delilah S. Dawson fusing together a multitude of religions—Christianity, ancient Egyptian polytheism etc—to explore the cult mystery at the centre of her narrative. It’s precisely the kind of hodge-podge that Mulder *would* find fascinating.
What you do notice with these Case Files so far is how light and breezy they are, certainly compared to the Joe Harris run over the last few years. In my review of Part 1, I talked a little about the pros & cons of Harris’ tenure telling X-Files stories, and while not all of them honestly worked as coherent pieces of storytelling, almost all of them had some weight and substance behind them. ‘Florida Man’, fun as it often is, does not. Even the suggestions of exploring a social dichotomy in the town is largely tossed aside with nary a mention here. It feels like The X-Files, but unlike the show, it’s not *about* anything.
This is not necessarily a major problem. Dawson intentionally keeps the touch light given how silly the central mystery turns out to be (I won’t spoil it), and arguably the best aspects of both of these issues have been the perky exchanges between Mulder & Scully. Occasionally they’re a little overwritten, Scully in particular, to make them swopping jokes and barbs at each other at every given moment, but Dawson seems to understand given this is set during the recent revival series, these two characters have reached a point where they’re not just partners, they’re a dysfunctional couple investigating the paranormal. She taps into that nicely.
It is just a shame that Elena Casagrande can’t always make them *look* like David Duchovny or Gillian Anderson; indeed the latter seems oddly overtly buxom in places here. The artwork from Arianna Florean still is colourful and expressive, capturing the remote Florida setting well, but the panels don’t always necessarily perfectly represent the show we know and love.
A minor quibble because come the conclusion, you will feel like ‘Florida Man’ has been a short, throwaway but fun sojourn into the style of bizarre, slightly wacky X-File cases of yesteryear.
The X-Files: Case Files #2 is now available from IDW Publishing.