The Millennium Comic

Set after the series ended, Millennium continued as an official comic back in 2015 following on from a special guest appearance of Frank Black in The X-Files comic by IDW and written also by Joe Harris.

Millennium #1

Writer: Joe Harris
Art: Colin Lorimer
Colors: Joana Lafeuente
Cover: menton3

Publisher: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: 21 January 2015

Quote: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” –Seneca the Younger

Review: The time is now. Frank Black is back. This long-awaited return of Chris Carter’s Millennium won’t be seen on the Fox network, however, or on any IMAX screen. It’s happening at your local comic book shop. Seeing this dark and experimental drama series resurrected in the shadowy panels of a comic book from IDW Publishing is somehow apt. Millennium was a television series distinguished by its dramatic storytelling and striking imagery, the very elements that are essential in great sequential art. In this five-part limited series, IDW has the potential to distill the very essence of a celebrated cult masterpiece.

As the man behind IDW’s The X-Files, writer Joe Harris has refined a formula that delivers readers a satisfying blend of the old and the new, seizing upon forgotten threads from the television mythology and spinning them into ambitious new plots. Millennium #1 begins with a reminder that it was a monograph on serial killers and the occult written by none other than FBI Agent Fox Mulder that led to the capture of notorious killer Monte Propps. With Propps due to be released from a federal prison, Fox Mulder finds himself face-to-face with the legendary Frank Black once more. A clear effort is being made to unify two fandoms in celebration of Millennium’s return.

As characters, Mulder and Black share a great deal in common. They make for a fine team, joining forces to investigate the unsolved mysteries surrounding Propps’s crimes, and the ensuing tale is infinitely more satisfying than the misjudged crossover between the two series that unfolded on television. Nevertheless, this opening chapter certainly leaves us wanting more—more action, more answers, and more of Frank Black. Undoubtedly, the hero will be allowed to take a stand at center stage as the drama unfolds in subsequent issues.

Otherwise, the balance is pitch-perfect. Beginning with a chilling prologue in which a pair of Millennium Group operatives toast to the impending destruction of the World Trade Center, the first issue of this bold miniseries offers an exciting blend of familiar characters, ominous mysteries, and arresting visuals. Though Millennium was a series that explored versatile themes through versatile perspectives, Harris has seemingly blended three season’s worth of intrigue and horror into a single coherent story-line. The art by Colin Lorimer is both clear and nuanced, capturing the lines in Frank Black’s familiar face and also, at times, adopting familiar camera angles. Even the colors by Joana Lafeuente capture that trademark oscillation between the bleak grays and blues of our hero’s world and the vivid, dangerous color to be witnessed in his prophetic visions. This comic tale is, in every way, recognizably Millennium.

It’s clear from the start, IDW’s Millennium is required reading for all those who have waited and worried in the years since the series left the air. While there is no doubt that a cinematic event would prove more satisfying, the comic book series delivers what so many viewers have demanded. Through the saga of his struggle against the evils and injustices of our world, Frank Black has served as an inspiration for millions. The millennium did not bring the end. At long last, that epic saga continues here.

Millennium #2

Writer: Joe Harris
Art: Colin Lorimer
Colors: Joana Lafeuente
Cover: menton3

Publisher: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: 18 March 2015

Quote: “If you expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” –Heraclitus

Review: IDW’s Millennium comic book miniseries returned this week with an excellent second installment, one that builds confidently upon the foundations laid down by its debut. Once again, Joe Harris presents familiar icons and themes from the series’ dense mythology even as he twists them into a compelling narrative that forges bold new ground. The result is an immensely satisfying second issue that feels both familiar and fresh, developing a strong narrative that plays to diehard fans and new readers alike.

The unexpected and violent death of Monte Propps that punctuated the end of Issue 1 echoes aspects of the television series’ celebrated first season episode “Lamentation“, and this is surely quite deliberate. All too soon sinister, unknowable forces are once again making themselves known to Frank, squaring up to him and brimming with confidence. And as this issue’s striking cover artwork from menton3 foreshadows, the Millennium Group and their nefarious methods are also in evidence, much to Frank’s chagrin.

Fox Mulder maintains a presence once again and continues to crack wise, although this issue satisfyingly allows Frank Black to start to take center stage. And if it jars to see the legendary profiler handling a gun, then perhaps this is entirely deliberate in order to illustrate the desperate straits in which our hero finds himself, just as he had done in the show’s finale. There is a further throwback to that finale elsewhere, as well as strong hints towards a dangerous situation for Frank’s daughter, Jordan, that raises the stakes yet further.

The consistency lent by both Colin Lorimer’s artwork and Joana Lafeuente’s choices of colour further enhances the sense of authenticity evoked by this miniseries to date. By the final panel, it is clear that the forces Frank faced off against in the last days of the previous millennium are far from vanquished. Moreover, there are signs that they may have grown stronger yet in the intervening years, and a dramatic reckoning will surely be played out over the next three installments. With Issue 3 out next week, thankfully we need not wait and worry for too long.

Millennium #3

Writer: Joe Harris
Art: Colin Lorimer
Colors: Joana Lafeuente
Cover: menton3

Publisher: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: 1st April 2015

Quote: “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.” –Frederick Douglas

Review: Millennium #3 pops out onto the newsstands a little under the monthly publication schedule due to the delays on the release of #2. I doubt fans will grumble about this short break between episodes as IDW Publishing’s Millennium comic-book hits the story mid-way mark.

Writer Joe Harris bridges that transmedia gap between moving image and framed narrative once more, deploying a Carter genre favourite, the media res technique; opening the story midway through before winding back to preceding events. For a show that was visually motivated, these techniques help capture the pacing and familiarity of Millennium. As before, and as it should be for Millennium, the dialogue is relatively stripped back, letting the visuals lead the story. Where dialogue is thick, it is relevant, and there’s very much a feeling that Frank Black hasn’t lost that tension he acquired in the show’s final season. The story expands on the Millennium universe without feeling its muddied in past waters; you don’t need to know the entire mythology to follow the plot, but that mythology, particularly the Legion and Group aspects, are very much present and moving forward – not backwards.

Colin Lorimer does a solid job maintaining the atmosphere of the show’s cinematography. Joana Lafeuente’s colour palettes as before reflect the show’s thoughtfulness, enjoying a very cinematic teal and gold approach.  On a personal note, I purchased the digital version of this comic, which I would wholeheartedly recommend for the Millennium and The X-Files comic books. The animated panel sequencing, common in digital comic-book platforms, lends to the slower, thoughtful pace of Carter’s worlds that the casual eye fails to mimic.

The question, of course, is does Harris’ Millennium move Millennium on? As a campaign, we’ve always advocated that as the show focused on the anxiety born as the millennium approached, a new Millennium could be about the realisation of those very fears. It seems so far that Joe Harris is working along the same line of reasoning.

With this issue re-introducing a very familiar face to the series (or perhaps unfamiliar, given the time that has passed), fans can look forward to more returning Millennium aspects, however the Past never stops this comic series’ forward momentum.

Millennium #4

Writer: Joe Harris
Art: Colin Lorimer
Colors: Joana Lafeuente
Cover: menton3

Publisher: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: 15 April 2015

Quote: “And so long as I have that, I can continue in this state until the end of the world.” –Teresa of Ávila

Review: The fast-escalating narrative of IDW’s Millennium comic book miniseries pauses for a dramatic flashback that comprises the teaser to its penultimate issue. Joana Lafeuente selects a palette of red and blue that contrasts effectively with the established look of the series as we bear witness to Jordan Black’s brutal loss of innocence. If fans of the series still cherished memories of the young girl that Frank Black sought so devotedly to protect across three seasons of superlative television, we can now be in no doubt that she has grown into a complex young woman, troubled by and suffering for her “gift”.

This is brought home further during an extended scene in which father and daughter confront one another over Jordan’s involvement with the Millennium Group. It feels absolutely right that their relationship takes center stage but, whilst Frank’s frustrations are entirely understandable, the degree of anger etched into his facial expressions and the moment when he slaps his daughter across the face both feel over-the-top for this reader. Frank Black was a devoted father above all else when we met him last and, narratively speaking, his rare outbursts were hard-earned. His anguish, anxieties and disappointments were more characteristically directed inwards, so it is hard to believe that he would lash out at his daughter in this way, no matter the circumstance. Perhaps, though, such concerns speak more to the significant ambition of this five-part series, and strengthen the argument for a further, longer run for the comic book such that the dynamics of key relationships could be explored in more depth.

Elsewhere, this latest installment continues its command over Millennium‘s dense mythology. The Group itself retains its sinister, powerful edge and Frank’s reaction to being thrust back into its core is both believable and authentic. Particularly satisfying is the build-up to this issue’s cliffhanger, and the reveal of the derelict Yellow House as untended, unloved, and overgrown is a potent image—arguably the most powerful of the entire issue.

Millennium #5

Writer: Joe Harris
Art: Colin Lorimer
Colors: Joana Lafeuente
Cover: menton3

Publisher: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: 3 June 2015

Quote: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” –Matthew 26:41

Review: This concluding issue of IDW’s five-part comic book series is book-ended with perhaps the most potent imagery of its entire run. The yellow house remains a defining constant throughout the television series in one context or another, and so to once again see it in such dilapidated condition in the opening frames speaks volumes as to the disarray of Frank Black’s life and that of the remnants of his family. And, even though the way in which it features in the final panels offers a nod to the series’ distinctive and artful opening credits sequence, they do so with chilling implications that offer little or no solace.

With events centered upon the iconic location, this issue certainly offers a dramatic conclusion to the miniseries, although it is one that risks sidelining Frank and his influence over the unfolding events. Mulder also returns to the fray for the finale and to fall briefly but awkwardly under Lucy Butler’s insidious spell, but it is Jordan Black who once again takes center stage. Whilst many will welcome such a development, for this reader at least Jordan’s arc and her deepening involvement with the Millennium Group represent some of the less successful elements of the miniseries. And, whilst such narrative choices are undoubtedly subjective, it is hard to see Frank’s own involvement as ending in anything but bitter failure.

It is a bold move, however, to end the tale with Frank Black so melancholic and his personal situation still unresolved. Indeed, this lack of resolution can only leave readers yet more eager to see the legendary profiler be offered a true conclusion to his arc—a move that is undoubtedly intentional.

In spite of the apparent challenges inherent in bringing Frank Black to the medium, the very existence of this comic book miniseries represents a triumph for fans of Millennium, and is not to be missed.

What others had to say…

The Nerdy show speaks about Millennium in the X-Files comic

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