X-Files 11 NM 2016 Subscription Cover CSM Photo IDW Joe Harris 1st print


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X-Files (2016 IDW) #11 Subscription Variant Photo Cover (Cigarette Smoking Man)

IDW Publishing
Photo Cover
Written by Joe Harris
Art by Greg Scott

‘Contrarians,’ Part 2 (of 2): Mulder chances upon evidence that suggests the now-defunct Syndicate’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. Guest-starring the Cigarette Smoking Man and President Reagan! 28 pages, full color.

The inventors of the Cigarette Smoking Man probably weren’t thinking about this back in the day, but one of the advantages of a villain who always smokes is we can easily spot him in comic panels. The art by Greg Scott (pencils and inks) and Wes Dzioba (colors) is quite good – I like the gray flashbacks that indicate both time and mood – but the smoking helps a reader quickly distinguish the CSM from Bill Mulder.

“Contrarians” takes us back to the Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980s starting with a tasty sequence wherein President Reagan is conversing with the CSM before going on the air to rationalize with/apologize to the American people. Harris does a nice job of balancing Reagan’s complicity with the Syndicate with his disgust for its existence and tactics.

While this is a nice way to get a history lesson, the story ends up being about an alien spaceship that has crash-landed in Nicaragua, long enough ago that it is covered with grass and has blended into the landscape. The CSM uses the USA’s Iran-Contra allies in the country to blow up the ship and destroy the evidence.

In present day, a ghost of a Nicaraguan rebel general leads Mulder to a Baltimore warehouse full of cocaine. Presumably this stash will retroactively implicate the Syndicate, or something like that. A little more clarity here would’ve been nice.

But the joy of “Contrarians” simply comes from listening to the CSM and Bill gab in their usual fashion. “Contrarians” is the best of the ongoing series’ arcs.

Near mint, 1st print. Bagged & Boarded.