Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Millennium #1

Halloween 2018 Post-A-Day: Day 23
Millennium #1

The spawn of the X-Files TV show gets a shot at a solo comic

Writer – Joe Harris
Art – Colin Lorimer
Colors – Joana Lafuente
Letterer – Shawn Lee
Editor – Denton J. Tipton
Executive Producer – Chris Carter
January 2015

Chris Carter wasn’t even mid-way through the original nine year run his monster hit X-Files tv show when Fox Broadcasting Company started throwing more money his way in hopes he would produce another runaway hit of the same caliber. What Carter came up with in 1996 was a show about a freelance forensic profiler, which is to say a guy that as a career gets paid by police departments to help catch serial killers.

And you though the UFO stuff was “I want to Believe”.

However nonsensical that job description might be, Frank Black, played by the always AMAZING Lance Henniksen, entered the X-Files canon as a patsy of the Millennium Group, a secret organization that paid him to stop criminals using his unique ability to see the world through the eyes of serial killers and murders. The show ran for three seasons, highlighting how the Millennium group had something nasty up its sleeve in relation to the coming Y2K (we were all a little freaked out about that date change back then. Turned out to be the biggest pfft since the Justice League movie). Then it got cancelled.

Carter tried to wrap up the show’s storyline in a crossover episode of X-Files in 2000, and fan service in 2015 IDW attempted a 5 issue mini to test the waters for an ongoing.

The premise of Millennium was solid, I loved the acting and the production value as well. For some reason though, it did not set with me as well as the X-Files would. I would find myself waiting with bated breath for the next mind screw that was the X-Files continuing labyrinthine mythos, while I would pass on even noting that Millennium was still on that week. I’ve promised myself to revisit the show as soon as I find a streaming service providing it.

For now though we have this starter issue courtesy of the Crapbox and I have to admit it does the trick. Sure there is a guest appearance by Mulder, but that isn’t what gets my blood going. It’s the good old-fashioned supernatural mystery angle that draws me in.

We begin the book way back in December 24, 1994 in one of the upper floors of a Manhattan skyscraper Christmas party. Two workmen arrive in an elevator, and somehow this seems like a creepy portent.

Again all of this seems like they are here to do something sinister as they are guided through the party guests. A credit to artist Colin Lorimer that these panels come off menacing.

And when left to work on…whatever it is they are supposed to work on here, we get the distinct impression that those party guests will fall in that last category come the turn of the Millennium. 

Whatever it is they were installing appears to be not something to stop problems during the big digit flip, but to actually cause more…

…as we pull back to reveal the two “repair” men having a breathtaking view of the Twin Towers. Then the device beeps and…

…we shift gears to today. That quote I would attribute to “Closing Time” by Semisonic, though. Shows that I lack a classical education, I suppose.

And by today, I mean we find Mulder at a parole hearing at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, IA circa 2015. The hearing board interviews Mulder on whether they should let Mr. Monte Propps out of prison even though he was the serial killer behind the Black Lake Murders. 

What exactly were the Black Lake Murders and how would the parole board ever consider letting a man convicted of being a serial killer out? I’ll let Mulder explain the cases a bit and you see if you get where Mr. Propps’ methodology left plenty of doubt as to how he was at fault for the murders.

And these “programmed” people would then…well, see for yourself…
The book does a good job making “spooky” Mulder just as unsettling and slightly crazy-sounding as he did in the series. I’m giving it high marks for that. Also for the invention of Mr. Propps very odd method of killing victims. 

Against Mulder’s recommendation, Propps earns a get-out-of-jail-free card. And then the lights go out mysteriously!

Got to hand it to Mulder, I do miss his one-liners in inappropriate moments. As he signs out, he notices a familiar name on the visitor list.

The colorist for this book deserves some credit too. The use of so many neutral tones should make the book come off as bland or boring, when instead we get the opposite effect: it is suspenseful and engaging.

And speaking of Frank Black, we see him check in to a seedy roadside motel with a stack of newspapers, which he promptly starts trying is “profiling” magic on. He always was more of a psychic than he cared to admit. His gifts lead him to some startling revelations about Propps and his former employers…

…not to mention his late wife and his estranged daughter.

Yeah, that voice over the shoulder turns out to be Mulder, who mentions that they have all of those newspapers digitized these days and that perhaps Frank should try that instead of shredding the originals he stole for the local library’s archives. Frank’s answer is spot on.

Nice to see these two team up on things. I think that was what Millennium lacked – a foil for Frank to bounce things off of. I’m sure they were afraid of copying the X-Files template too closely, but making Frank this kind of loner really did a disservice in how good he works when he has a constant side guy to throw up against.

Here Mulder brings up the Millennium group and Frank tells him they are of no consequence in this case. That while he has kept off the grid for his own safety, that “the Millennium group is over.”

But that doesn’t mean that the Black Lake Killer doesn’t pose a threat.

At seeing the glyphs, Frank is shocked into one of his fits of looking though the eyes of the killer, and Mulder gets an urgent cell call.

That call being that Monte Propps left the prison a free man. Here he is setting up in a “halfway house” where it quickly becomes apparent that he’s still hearing voices.

Right before he heads to sleep, Monte’s parole officer shows up, even as we see Monte curled up in the fetal position on the floor of his apartment. As she enters the apartment and says something out of character for a parole officer, Mulder and Black arrive downstairs. Frank senses something wrong immediately.

They find the house’s landlord dead and bleeding out in the hallway so they rush to Propps’ room.

And while it appears that Propps will never harm anyone again, it does seem his actions present more questions than it does answers.

I found this enjoyable and wouldn’t mind learning how the tale ends. If you are an X-Files fan or Millennium junkie, you will probably think the same.

At least that’s what I want to believe.

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