X-Files 12 NM 2016 Subscription Cover Photo IDW Joe Harris 1st print Skinner


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X-Files (2016 IDW) #12 Subscription Variant Photo Cover (Walter Skinner)

IDW Publishing
Photo Cover
Written by Joe Harris
Art by Andrew Currie

‘Skinner,’ Part 1 (of 2): Assistant Director Walter Skinner finally gets the spotlight! When a face from the past resurfaces, Skinner must confront painful memories of the Vietnam War in his effort to keep a dark secret from being exposed. 28 pages, full color.

An unintentional companion piece to “Kitten” (11.6), which would air the following year, “Skinner” has the pleasant surprise of new revelations about our favorite – to borrow Mulder’s word – establishmentarian. Rather than being an unambiguous hero, Skinner – nicely rendered by Andrew Currie (art) and Sebastian Cheng (colors) in past and present scenes (the glasses help us spot him, just like the smoke helps us spot the CSM) — is re-established as a gray-area figure in “X-Files” lore.

In flashbacks to a military hearing in the wake of the Vietnam War, we see that Skinner tells the unadorned truth about what he saw in a jungle incident rather than lying to defend his brothers in arms. He – and we as readers – struggle with whether this is misplaced morality.

I like the idea of the ancient religious talisman, discovered in the Vietnam jungle, being the inciting device and also the thing that haunts the soldiers years later; it’s a literal symbol of PTSD. A soldier flat-out tells Skinner that the talisman always finds its way back to him, just so that part of the tale is cleared up, at least. On the other hand, if “Skinner” leaves readers with the impression that the Vietnam War was a terrifying and confusing mess, I suppose it has done its job to some degree.

Skinner can hear the talisman in his head, calling his name.

Ultimately, we can add this story to our mental X-File about the FBI assistant director. We get more of a feel for why he’s always vaguely haunted and morose (which seems to be the main purpose of Skinner yarns). That said, I think this story could’ve been stronger: Harris shies away from getting deep in the weeds of what exactly takes place in the Vietnam incident. It’s understandable that Skinner is confused and disoriented.

Near mint, 1st print. Bagged & Boarded.