The X-Files: Origins—Dog Days of Summer #1
Writers: Jody Houser and Matthew Dow Smith
Artists: Chris Fenoglio and Corin Howell
Letterer: Gilberto Lazcano
Review by Anelise Farris
The X-Files: Origins—Dog Days of Summer #1 is the beginning of the second arc of the The X-Files: Origins series by Jody Houser and Matthew Dow Smith; you can check out my review of the trade paperback of the first arc (which contains chapters one through four) here. For readers new to the series, The X-Files: Origins takes us back to the 1970s: Mulder, a young teenager living in Martha’s Vineyard, is trying to figure out the mystery concerning his sister’s disappearance, and Scully, newly relocated to the west coast, is dealing with a murder that causes her to question her faith and her family.
The incidents in the first arc, which, like any good X-Files episode, never feel quite resolved, carry on into the second arc as Mulder is still mourning the disappearance of his sister Samantha and Scully remains unsettled by the death of her Sunday School teacher even though his murderer is now imprisoned. Here, in The X-Files: Origins—Dog Days of Summer #1, the mysteries become more layered for our young detectives as Mulder’s encounter with a deaf girl sends him off on a strange pursuit, and Scully investigates a plane crash that she believes is anything but accidental.
Two elements really excited me about the start of this new arc: first, the deaf girl is not presented as weird because she is deaf; it’s simply part of her character. They even include American Sign Language in the comic—something I firmly believe more comics should do. And, second, readers are fully inside Scully’s mindset, as though we are reading her diary, and this forces us to confront all sorts of philosophical questions that she herself is wrestling with—like, why do bad things happen to good people?
Once again, Jody Houser and Matthew Dow Smith have offered readers, young and old, both new to The X-files and longtime fans, an intriguing and well-developed story of what Mulder and Scully would be like as young teens. There is plenty of backstory provided for those unfamiliar with this infamous duo, but not so much that it feels dense or repetitive. Additionally, what really stands out in this series is the team’s passion for The X-Files and their understanding of the characters of Mulder and Scully. The art here is fun, and, although it is consistently cartoony and youthful, the use of colors and shading add a sophistication and gravity to the work.
Buy it! As I said, this is the perfect series for a diverse reading audience—no matter your age or level of familiarity with The X-Files, this series offers relevant background information, compelling mysteries, and complex, well-developed characters. The first arc was originally labeled a mini-series, and I am so excited that Houser and Smith came back to give us a second arc. If you are looking for a great summer read that is both fun and clever, The X-Files: Origins—Dog Days of Summer #1 is it!