TBT Review: Topps The X-Files #16

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When we last left Mulder and Scully they were facing an ultimatum: which one of them would die first? Read after the jump for our recap of “Home of The Brave” Part two: “A Question of Ownership”.

16 CoverWe return to the thick of the action as explosions blast outside the compound where Mulder, Scully, and the anti-government group who have kidnapped them are hiding out. Group leader Gavin blames Mulder and Scully for the events taking place outside and begins using children’s rhymes to pick which one he plans to throw outside first, ignoring Scully’s increasingly angry accusations. One of the other men – Isaac – requests that Scully be sacrificed because Mulder saved his life. Gavin immediately rounds on him for “talking out of turn again” and has two of the others throw Isaac out into the light instead as punishment. In a stunning two-page illustration we see the terror on Isaac’s face as he is hurled from the cabin door and into the glowing light that has encroached on the cabin, broken up only by the Shadow Men. Cutting back inside we see the remaining survivors faces as we hear Isaac’s screams. Gavin orders Mulder and Scully locked in the back room and warns them they have half an hour to decide “who goes next”.

In the room, Scully begins systematically hunting for an escape route while Mulder questions her theories on the events surrounding them. Scully grudgingly concedes that Gavin’s theory may be correct, reminding Mulder that they already know of the government “conducting experiments with mind control substances”. Mulder’s theory naturally falls closer to the “flying saucer” route. The two bicker over the decision as to who should go first, Scully quickly taking charge and announcing that either they both go outside together, or neither of them does. 

16 Panel 1In the cabin Gavin knows his leadership is being questioned by the other men – for good reason. He gives a speech comparing them to the Founding Fathers and suggesting that the events they are currently experiencing may be “the first sign of the end times”. Naida is sent to make coffee where, through a crack in the wall, Scully whispers to her that she should try to escape with her baby and alert the authorities. In her own internal monologue, Naida comments on how Scully “talks down” to her as if she is “driven by fear”, but also appreciates Scully’s sincerity. Naida slips a sword through the crack to Scully before taking her baby daughter and running, not to the authorities but straight to the Shadow Men, taking her chances with the unknown.

Scully uses the sword to break down the wall and allow them to escape, refusing to allow Mulder to assist her through concern for his injured thigh and her imperfect ad hoc stitching. As she breaks through, Mulder collapses. Henry is sent to retrieve them while Gavin makes a sick comment on how Scully “might be fun to keep around for a while”. only Henry is horrified to discover the room is now empty while we see Scully supporting Mulder as they break for the forest, both distracted by the mysterious Shadow Men. Inside, the ever pleasant and level-headed Gavin takes his rage out on Henry, beating him up while blaming their current predicament on the woman he bought Henry for his birthday and the “whelp” they conceived together and reminding Henry that Naida “should have been dead a long time ago”. He forces a gun into Henry’s hand and orders him to fix the problem permanently.

Henry heads outside to find Naida, calling her “honey” even as he hunts her down. He discovers Isaac curled up in a fetal position on the ground outside the compound, seemingly incapable of anything besides making a consistant humming sound. Spotting his wife, Henry follows her into the forest and apologises as he lifts his gun, assuring her “it won’t be so bad” if she stands still. Just when his finger tightens on the trigger Mulder appears from nowhere, charging into his side and sending him flying, giving Naida and her baby the opportunity to escape. Henry fights back, knocking Mulder to the ground with a single punch, and fires at Naida. Hearing the baby scream, he is suddenly horrified at the realization he may have hit his daughter instead, and his temporary distraction allows Scully to creep up and knock him out by hitting him across the face with a large branch. After a quick check on Mulder, she takes off after Naida even as the glowing light grows suddenly more intense and Mulder calls after her. The light reaches Mulder and he sees Naida and her daughter standing calmly within it. Mulder reaches to her but Naida refuses his hand, wondering how she can explain this choice to him. In a repeat of words she uttered in the previous issue, Naida explains to us how after living her entire life for others she knows it is her time to be carried herself and we see her fade into the light before it solidifies into an unknown craft and flies away.

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Sometime later the military arrives, and we see them take Gavin and his associates away. An unnamed officer informs Mulder and Scully (Mulder doing an excellent impersonation of ripped-shirt Captain Kirk) that this “was a need-to-know” operation” and that they “don’t need to know”. Scully takes this as confirmation that an experimental jet was at the heart of the event, but questions Mulder about the whereabouts of Naida and her baby. Mulder tries to tell Scully what he saw explaining sadly to her how Naida was convinced the Shadow Men were aliens and that she chose to go with them because “whatever was out there just had to be better” than the life she had.

 

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