Fiction Reviews


The X Files Origins: Devil's Advocate

(2017) Jonathan Mayberry, Atom, £9.99, pbk, 357pp, ISBN978-0-349-00298-9

 

Unlike other major franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars, The X Files has never really generated much in the way of spin-off books. There were some original titles back in the day by the likes of quiet horror maestro Charlie Grant and a few more titles by other authors, but like Buffy and Charmed, the X Files have continued in comic form with seasons 10 and 11 appearing as comics then collected as graphic novels. However, with the recent return of the series to television in 'The Event' series, a few anthologies have appeared containing short stories about Mulder and Scully and other characters like Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man.  Jonathan Mayberry the author of 'Devilís Advocate' co-edited one of these anthologies and seems to have been a leading light in getting 'The X Files Origins' series off the ground. Mayberry is a well kent face in the horror field and writes comics for several major comic book companies and also writes the bio-terrorism Joe Ledger series and the post-apocalyptic 'Rot and Ruin' series.

In Devilís Advocate we are at the death of the 1970s, itís 1979, and Dana Scully is a fifteen year old army brat who has had to move town and schools once again, as her family follow her father in his latest posting. Things are bad enough with having to make new friends, something that sheís not very good at, unlike her older sister, Melissa, and it does not help that she has gone from a Catholic school run by nuns to a non-faith one, and she has been having these dreams lately and now they are getting worse. They are becoming more like visions than dreams and feature a creature that might be an angel or a demon. Then she is visited by the spirit of a classmate who died in a car crash, or did they Ė the wounds the victim exhibits donít look they happened in a simple automobile accident. More and more school children are dying in similar car accidents, if they are accidents at all. Soon, Scully and would-be boyfriend Ethan are on the case, a case which is going to get darker and grislier as events unfold.

It is a smart move to take us back in time and show us young Mulder and Scully in stories for teenagers and X Files fans will eat this up. Me? I thought there was an interesting back story for Dana, blending in members of her family we have encountered in the TV series and some new ones we have not met before. There were also some nice links to things that have been hinted about her in the TV series, particularly in very early episodes with possible psychic abilities, but all in all I found this to be a tad long (it does come in at over 80 chapters plus an epilogue) and while the plot had lots of twists and turns, the ending was not exactly unexpected. Other than the companion novel to this book, will we see more adventures from the young Mulder and Scully? I doubt it, which is a shame, but then again, the truth hurts.

Ian Hunter


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