Wow! I just finished reading this issue and I feel like reading it again. It is excellent and embodies what I love about the X-Files.
The issue is subtitled More Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man and is comprised of a series of memories that the smoking man (C.G.B. Spender) was recalling while drafting a memoir of sorts. What these vignettes accomplish is connecting the X-Files mythos to historical events, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Vietnam War. It works perfectly, blending the boundaries between fiction and reality.
The artwork is done in black and white with a yellow hue, which adds to the dreamlike quality of memory. There is one section where some color briefly seeps in, highlighting those scenes as an intensification of the memory and the emotion associated with it.
While all this is impressive on its own, what really blew me away while reading this were the short, thought-provoking quotes that permeate this issue, and there is no shortage of these. I’ll include a couple of them here.
“They say great men aren’t born that way. It’s what they do in response to great disappointment and failure that makes them so.”
I could not agree with this more. In our lives, we all face failure and disappointment, which leaves us with the choice of dealing with our failures with stoic resolve or descending into the pit of despair and self-loathing. I’ve certainly tested both paths in my lifetime, and I prefer the first.
“You might not realize it yet, but everything around us is a construct, and one day the truth will set you free.”
I think most of us recognize that history is a construct, but I sense here that the assertion is that reality itself is a construct. Reality is based upon perception, and perception can be manipulated and altered. If you accept this idea, then it is by no means a stretch to conclude that everything around us is nothing more than a construct. I am not expert on Buddhism, but I seem to recall reading a Buddhist tenet that said something similar to this.
The issue concludes with another great quote:
“Extraordinary men are always most tempted… by the most ordinary things.”
When I think of the things that have tempted me to make mistakes and poor choices in my life, they have all been pretty common things. I have not made poor choices as the result of some noble ideal.
As I said, this issue is flawless. If you are an X-Phile, then you must read this. There are lots of other things in here that I intentionally excluded from this post so as not to spoil it for you. I promise you will not be disappointed.
The truth is in this comic.