Independent Comics >> View Post
Post By

Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 39,895
Subj: IDW's Millennium #1-3. Dissapointment Abounds.....
Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 04:20:00 pm EDT (Viewed 261 times)

    Previously on Millennium....

    With his unique ability to see into the minds of serial killers, profiler Frank Black left the FBI to join the Millenium Group, a covert team of former law enforcement experts battling the ever growing forces of evil in the world - or so he thought.
    The Group actually was bent on bringing about the Apocalypse, and to that end became responsible for the death of Frank's wife, Catherine. Eventually the Millennium Group dissolved, and Frank and his daughter, Jordan - who shares his gift - became estranged.

With the successful revival of The X-Files under writer Joe Harris' capable pen it might have seemed an irresistable temptation for Chris Carter to use the opportunity and the sympathetic platform of comicbooks to give life back to another of his defunct, but less successful, concepts in the form of Millennium.
Arriving on television screens in 1996 Millennium tapped into the success of the X-Files darkest aspects and combined it with societal the apprehension over what the turn of the Millennium might bring, superstition, at its heart however the series was a fairly novel police versus serial killer formula, a dark postscript to the legend of Hannibal Lector and his depraved ilk.
With the Millennium Group and its support being a mere tool and background element the focus was firmly set on the middle aged Frank Black's work in tracking and containing the most appalling and disturbing of serial killers. The series' deliberate darkness was contrasted by the support and strength Frank Black drew from his lovely wife Catherine and young daughter Jordan - keeping them safe and living in their warm welsoming yellow house was both Frank's reason and means of insulation for doing what he did... and then season 2 happened....

If ever there was a comic book doomed to underachieve in the market and be swiftly curtailed, it is this one. Three issues in now and it is impenetrable. Let me get right to the point and say that this book is a great disspointment. Both to me personally but as a product in and of itself.
In the preface to the book as quoted up above The Millennium concept is a simple one to understand, when Joe Harris revived the X-Files for IDW with Chris Carter's support and blessing he immediately showed a fundamental understanding of both the television format and how to successfully translate that to the comicbook format, straight away we are reintroduced to Fox Mulder and his quirky world in a manner that feels like we are greeting welcome old friends again. Harris not only produced a flawless translation, he set about repositioning it for a 21st century context, exploring the changes in the worlds political agenda and the associated evolving nature of conspiracy theory and governmental cover-up. With Millennium however none of this considered thought is in evidence. Even with the attraction of Fox Mulder throughout its pages there seems to be the unspoken admission in progress that there is a problem in the format and in the publishers faith in the books ability to generate a format, an uncertainty in what it is the book and central character and his purpose is. And this is proven soberingly precient as the character and essence of Frank Black remains not only elusive to those of us who recall the television series but to the indifferent casual reader sold on the solicitation for the book by the publisher. Any suggestion of there being a professional FBI profiler - and catcher of serial killers - present within is largely absent from the pages. And It isn't that actor Lance Henrikson's performance is what is missing from the ingredients - Fox Mulder is perfectly recognisable and accessible without David Duchovny's prescence after all, but set in the presentday, bereft of his vibrant family dynamic, and picking up some 18 years after the television series ended, Frank Black has no reason to be anymore. The Millennium and its foreboding apprehension is long gone, Frank is probobly pushing 70 and past retirement, we are given no information as to what it is he does in a typical day and no information as to what his aim in life is. He is a man existing. His life apparently frozen in time after the death of his wife those 18 years ago and the absence of his daughter. The reader has no way of connecting with this ghost of a man, and neither are we given any reason why we should. Instead this is a production that is being molded into something more of a Fox Mulder off on vacation premise, an annex of the X-Files franchise. The fear of realising a viable character for Black papered over by drafting in the quirkiness and star power of Fox Mulder and his associates in the Lone Gunmen.
But the problems with the series go beyond just a question of character accessibility. We don't necessarily need to hane ANY reason to care about Frank or understand him, what we do need though is a coherent story to follow. And that just isn't present here.
The series was on which was originally about a profiler targeting serial killers, as we got past the first season there was a suggestion of supernatural forces, but the increased emphasis was on who and what the Millenium Group were and what its real goals were. What Joe Harris was thinking when handed this concept by IDW and Chris Carter doesn't seem to be the same astute instinct that informed his X-Files revival. Instead of offering a clean platform and using the concepts premise to ease the reader into it Harris bafflingly opts for the counter-intuitive approach of narrative obscurity and teasing the audience with ephemera. As Fox Mulder joind with Frank Black to investigate the murder of a convicted killer the premise of Millennium's police procedural seems to be the one being honoured, but as we meet the enigmatic Frank Black the contrast with the focused and keen Mulder is the first indication of a problem with this book. We are not invited to meet Frank Black, he's just there. As the two pursue leads on their mutual interest in the case in comes a supernatural element with an apparent demonic force targeting and goading Frank, Why? What is it about tired old Frank Black that would fascinate such an entity? Who knows. Frank is led back to his old safe Yellow house(?) by the breadcrumbs of fate and finds himself confronted by an agent from the supposedly defunct Millennium Group, the two struggle and the agent bafflingly turns the gun on himself and leaves Frank on the run...

This is all baffling stuff. One Inexplicable moment follows another for one issue after the other. For a writer who so astutely reopened The X-Files and captured the format to a tee what is the point of this particular books utter lack of clarity and openness? Absolutely no persona or charisma within these three issues so far for us to ever be able connect ourselves with the title character and his troubles, bereft of a family or friends to be measured against Frank Black is a wandering ghost, a shuffling non-entity. At best he comes across on the page as little but a paranoid tired old man who needs to get off the stage and let Fox Mulder get on with the job at hand. But then right here is a large part of the problem with the premise of this launch - setting it 18 years after the television series and sticking determinely to the failures and wreckage in where its journey ended back then. None of that baggage should matter, it should not be what is informing Joe Harris approach to this new title launch and what his audience deserve for their money. The shame perhaps is that Chris Carter was not more directly involved in the launch and plotting of this debut, and that the setting was not placed at the height of Millennium's creative success with the end of Season 1. If The X-Files can be branded as Season 10 then why not take the opportunity to deliver Millennium: Season 1.1...? Indeed why bother honouring a failed imploded television series at all and instead launch the series as its own fresh entity, baggage free? The thinking behind this chosen direction is all the more baffling when looked at from that context.

With so much negativity let me balance the scales a little in applauding the excellent storytelling of artist Colin Lorimer and Colourist Joana Lafuente. The superb composition throughout by Lorimer lifts the script and tries, valiantly tries, to make some sense of it and give it life and energy. That Frank Black is a largely featureless and nondescript figure is the one flaw to his efforts, but with its attention to atmosphere and physical movement Colin Lorimers work gives Millennium one element at least to its credit...

Three examples of Colin Lorimers superb composition and shading. The page immediately above shows the flaw in the series however; with every other character so well rendered and distinctive in feature why is it Frank Black is given such a vague and indistinct appearance? Even discounting the possibility of copyright issues precluding using Lance Henrikson as a model any artist worth their salt can still serve up a distinct and individualistic appearance for a character. That is what the artist is for after all. Yet with Fox Mulder handsomely chiselled and distinctive to gaze upon the actual intended central character of Millennium is rendered as looking as featureless and indistinct as his actual character is written within these pages. A visual signal of the publishers lack of belief in the concept, and of a book doomed from the outset then.

Posted with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 on Windows Vista
Alvaro's Comicboards powered by On Topic™ © 2003-2018 Powermad Software
All the content of these boards Copyright © 1996-2018 by Alvaro Ortiz and Dave Galanter. Software Copyright © 2003-2018 Powermad Software