Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dave Sim: Talk To The Hand

X-Files Annual 2014 (IDW, April 2014)
Variant cover art by Dave Sim
IDW Publishing, $7.99
Writers: Frank Spotnitz, Gabe Rotter, Shannon Eric Denton & Dave Sim
Artists: Stuart Sayger & Andrew Currie
The X-Files writer / producer Frank Spotnitz returns with an untold tale from Mulder and Scully's first stint with the FBI. When a man returns from the dead with a warning for his wife, the agents investigate and cross paths with a very peculiar priest. And in the second story, Cerebus creator Dave Sim writes his first-ever The X-Files story and first scripted licensed work in... forever? with Talk To The Hand, a nightmarish tale starring a sleeping Dana Scully. Variant cover by Dave Sim.
Release Date: April 2014

...If Spotnitz's story were the only tale being showcased I might suggest you take a pass. But then came Talk to the Hand by Dave Sim, the semi-famous (and maybe semi-insane) creator of Cerebus. For those familiar with Cerebus, you already know the creator is a bit odd -- but in a powerful and brilliant way. Well, even though Talk to the Hand is only a few pages in length it makes this issue worth the cover price. It's haunting, heartfelt, and offers some of the richest characterization of Scully I've ever seen...

...In the second story, Scully talks to a disgusting looking hand that represents one of her ex-boyfriends. There's a great joke in there somewhere, but writer Dave Sim was actually going for the idea of a hand on Scully's heart. It’s a fairly mundane/bland plot, but some great pencils by Andrew Currie and powerful moments of dialogue by Sim manage to make it an enjoyable read...

...The second story was actually well executed on all levels. Scully wakes up to a strange hand with eyes on it, that apparently challenges her resolve to be an FBI agent every night. It was a great inside look at Scully's psyche, and her motivations to keep working where she is. There wasn't anything truly phenomenal that couldn't be accomplished in any other medium, but it still help my interest... 

...Scully is visited in her dreams by a rather disgusting hand, whose skin is full of eyes, and that claims to be the embodiment of Adam, her high school sweetheart. In this dream state, the hand carries on a conversation with her, where he reveals that they've held the same dream state conversation since the last time they saw each other. He gives her the option to contact him after all of these years, because he claims that she could love him more or as much as she loves being an FBI agent. 

He's giving her the opportunity because this could be the last time they "talk" - his normal self is about to meet a woman that could become his one and only, the one that will make him forget her. "Adam" tries to persuade Scully by presenting her with the possible future that they could have together, if she were to follow his instructions on how to contact him, preventing then the reality where they no longer love each other. The caveat is that she will only be able to call him as soon as she wakes up if she truly does love him more than being an FBI agent. Guess what choice our G-woman made?

For this second one included in the Annual, I had to do some research as to not hastily review a story without knowing the value behind Sim's approach and background. I've said it before, I'm a newbie when it comes to comic history in some aspects. Of that, I'd be at fault. After some of this research, I have to admit that I was able to look at this story with a different set of eyes, overcoming the initial shock that was left after my first read. Perhaps this makes this review not a completely spontaneous one, but I needed to have a better footing on this.

This is a bold yet exciting choice that IDW took to present to audiences that may not be as used to this style of story. I have to applaud them on that, but the problem I find with it is that it took me some research to appreciate it, and I do, because Cerebus is quite an important part of comic book history and that's something I can enjoy. I actually enjoyed my research because I rekindled with stories that I'd forgotten I'd read before in my childhood. My fear though is that many readers will not "get it" and I don't blame them; I hope that those will continue their comic book education by investigating, just like I did, or that I'm indeed underestimating the audience of these comic books and I'm proved wrong.

Having said that, the story is candid, and best enjoyed with an open mind, because when you do, is actually rather comical. I mean, we've all had logic-challenging dreams filled with impossible things such as bitter, chain smoking unicorns, right? Or is that just me? Though I find the age choice for Scully to be a little too on the older side which wouldn’t match the canon of the show, Currie's art and Rodriguez' colors, are good and to the point. I'm not saying this because I prefer to have artwork that is "naturalistic" in some sense and more into copying the looks of the actors that embody these characters, but because I enjoyed it more since the art served its purpose: to communicate the story effectively...


Adam Ell said...

Great story, it really was, but why did they foul up Dave's cover?

Jeff Seiler said...

I'm guessing that they "fouled up" Dave's original cover art for the same reason that the BBC did for his Doctor Who art on several covers. They (whoever "they" are that own the rights to The X-Files) do own the rights and they can do whatever the fuck they want to do, even if it means "fouling up" an artist's original vision.

BTW, I sure would take these reviewers a lot more seriously if they ALL weren't semi-illiterate in their writing. . .