Millenium TPB Review

Written by: Joe Harris

Art by: Colin Lorimer & Joana Lafuente

Publisher: IDW

That’s right Christ Carter fans, not only do you get a debut of Season 11 of X-files but the TPB of the continuation of Carter’s lesser known, Millenium series comes out. My main problem with this is shown pretty fast in that it quickly becomes apparent in that unless you just recently watched the show or remember it really well, you’re going to be confused easily and miss out allot. This may seem minor but i had to keep a tab open to a wiki to check things every so often to read and that doesn’t exactly lend itself to the best reading experience. To get you up to speed Frank Black is an ex-FBI profiler, with psychic abilities to see into the past, that went to go work for a group called Millennium that were contracted by the FBI. Unfortunately Frank later discovered that the group were evil (big shock with a name like that) and were acting somewhat like The Patriots from the Metal Gear Solid franchise in order to bring about the apocalypse for… profit? It doesn’t really matter. Nowadays, since Frank stopped the organisation and the millennium’s gone by he’s been lying off the grid.

The story opens showing a bunch of repair guys up to no good on New Year’s Eve 1999, I guess this scene was meant to show that Millennium was still around but it all gets built up for so long and it never gets explained what they were doing or why so I question its necessity entirely. The story REALLY begins with a hearing debating the early release of a serial killer called Monte Propps, who Agent Mulder (Squeeeeeeee!) speaks out against, describing his horrific method of trapping victims in enclosed space, surrounded by runes, which would enthrall them to him and he would then send them to drown themselves. It’s all very disturbing and with Frank Black in the audience we’re given some disturbing shots of the action. Mulder thinks he sees Frank in the audience and hunts him down (Frank has been off the grid since the end of the show) and the two team up… for next to no reason and they go visit Monte Propps who has just been released as Frank this he saw something in him with his psychic abilities. Here we see Propps killed in his own manner, surrounded by the runes.

Everything surrounding this moment is one of my favourite moments in this book and it shows off what it does the best, it finds it so easy to make you feel unsettled and create an eerie atmosphere and this style is continued on throughout the entire book and I love it. We quickly find out that the killer is a being called Legion, which is able to live inside people and has your standard spooky ghost powers, I do appreciate that Frank is the only one that can make it out and the fact that it can enter anyone does make you suspicious of whether someone acting out against Frank is doing so because of Legion or because of Millennium (who want him to work for him again and they have his daughter who has future powers) or perhaps they aren’t actually acting against him at all. All this helps drive this sense of paranoia that is the very core of Frank’s character and is shown of the best when Frank is on the run from everyone, just trying to get back to his house.

From that point on, Mulder spends his entire time trying to find Frank and to be honest I found his presence wasn’t necessary in the book from the get go and it seemed like he was only there to tie it to the X-Files but as I said earlier the book isn’t friendly to newcomers of the series at all (I think Frank’s powers are only explained properly near the end).  Up to two thirds of the way through the book really has me sold on it, there’s some funny one-liners, Frank and Mulder have a cool ‘I respect you but I sure as hell don’t trust you/ you need help’ vibe that’s reflected well in their words to and about each other, it succeeds in making me buy into Frank’s paranoia and confuses me in a way where I don’t really know what’s happening (I mean that in a good way, a second read fills in the gaps due to information you didn’t know). Unfortunately, as the third act raises its head, Millenium whips back the covers of the bed, with a flourish that wafts toxic air towards you, and reveals the sheets to be covered in a horrible, unsightly brown mess.

When Frank finally meets his daughter it shows that they have had an estranged relationship of the ‘I don’t want you making the same mistakes as me/ shut up you’re old!’ variety and it doesn’t really seem to go any further than that. A couple of lines about how much her future sight pains her is supposed to make us sympathetic to Jordan but overall she isn’t shown to be likeable in anyway that the reader can care about due to her appearing so close to the end. Millennium reveal that Legion is about and evil, trying to get Frank to make a deal with it due to the power his abilities would give it. This all leads to a big confrontation in Frank’s house that is the lamest climax to a plot I have seen in a good while, that just had me shrug and at least take solace in that it did what it had to. To top it all off I was still left wondering ‘what the hell were Millennium’s plans??’ I mean they have to have some, they keep talking about how big and grand they’ll be, but they don’t really do anything the entire plot. It really feels like all Millennium does in this story is through Frank’s daughter at him then they throw Frank at Legion then claim it was all their plan at the end.

The art, however, is a different story and stays consistently brilliant throughout. It perfectly brings across an almost noir feel of the book and the characters in the comic do a good job of representing their actor-played counterparts. The backgrounds aren’t really anything to write home about but there’s enough detail there to bring the scenes to life and the characters often fill most of the panels, although I was a bit disappointed by how simple the ‘mysterious runes’ were in design, being just short arcs. The colour work was particularly impressive though, the scenes in the alley after the finding of Propps stick in my mind vividly because of it and colour schemes being used to denote future visions from past visions was rather clever.

I really left this story questioning what the point of it was, everything is more or less the exact same as where it began except now Frank knows that Millennium is still around. The characters didn’t learn anything, didn’t improve in anyway and no overarching threat or continuancy was really revealed. It all strikes me as though someone saw the resurgence of the X-Files series and thought, ‘Hey Chris Carter made this too, it’ll be a hit!’ and so ordered it to be made. Although the creative team did a great job for the most part, providing a dark, intriguing story with occasional humour that always landed, it unfortunately fell apart at the last hurdle. I just don’t think many people were clamouring for a follow-up to Millennium nor do I think there will be.