In the late 1990s, Chris Carter (creator of “The X-Files”) produced a short-lived television series that is still one of my all-time favorites: “Millennium.” It was about a retired criminal profiler named Frank Black who becomes involved with a group that investigates cases that seem to be related to human evil and end-of-the-world prophesies. The series was dark, thoughtful, and brimming with rich symbolism. It is the only television series for which I purchased all seasons on DVD (three box sets) so I could rewatch them whenever I felt inspired. This book is a collection of essays about the series, as well as interviews with the cast and creative team.
Because the network suddenly cancelled the show (ironically, right before the millennium), there has been a strong movement among the fan base to attempt to influence the network to back a film or limited series that would bring satisfactory closure to this complex program. As one of the essays states, this was part of the impetus for compiling and publishing this book.
We felt that a book might serve as a testament to Millennium, the campaign, and the fans of the show. I won’t harp on too much about the book given I’m sure you’ll have found time to, at the very least, read this page of it, but suffice to say what we envisaged is very much what it became. In some respects, you could say it became all it could be: an intelligent compendium of responses to a mature and well-crafted television series.
There is some interesting information in this book and I enjoyed reading it, but it is definitely intended for fans of the show and assumes that the reader is versed in the mythology and story arcs that are part of the series. I’ll conclude by sharing that I am currently working through the Season 3 box set of “Millennium,” and it is a little eerie to watch this 20+ years later. Almost makes me wonder if the biblical millennium did creep up on us while we were expecting Y2K computer failures and planes falling out of the sky. Maybe the end is more of a fizzle instead of a cataclysmic explosion.
Animals have been a vital element in the development of mythological systems throughout history, across virtually every culture imaginable. In Western societies of the Middle Ages, in particular, animals represented specific traits and could therefore be utilized as symbols to convey moral and religious lessons in works of art. Animals can represent victims of technology, industrialization, or war. Also, animals sometimes equate with the concept of “purity,” existing in a wild, natural state and therefore utterly free from man’s sins and vices. Some passion plays and other didactic forms of theater utilized animal imagery to represent specific modes of behavior, including human vices.
“Neither good nor evil can be destroyed, and both will always be here. It’s meant to be. ‘The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.’ Our role is to achieve equilibrium. And as we do that we must respect evil and we must make evil respect us. But, at times such as now, events indicate that we’re losing balance. And time is running out.”
I’ve had this comic for a few weeks now, but waited until I had finished Watchmen before reading it. I was on the fence about getting this, but some people that I know said good things about it, so I figured I would give it a shot. Glad I did!
First off, the artwork in this book is stunning. The detail in each panel demonstrates the amount of effort that went in to illustrating this story. While I am no artist, I can appreciate the attention to detail that a great illustrator puts into his or her work. I suspect that anyone reading this will be impressed with the drawings.
But of course, the key to any good story for me is the quality of the writing, which is outstanding. The story picks up where Watchmen left off, after the cataclysmic event that was supposed to unify humanity. But humans being what we are, conflicts again arise and humanity finds itself on the brink of extinction.
While this story is set in the early 1990’s, the creative team draws on current events and weaves the references and symbolism into the text and artwork. There are images of protesters carrying signs demanding that we “Make America Safe Again.” But the clearest example of the connection to current affairs is a series of panels depicting clips from various news sources.
“The President scored a hole in one earlier today, beating his previous record…”
“Less than two weeks into the collapse of the European Union, Russia has amassed its military in Belarus, and is threatening to enter Poland…”
“World leaders have proclaimed they will not stand by if blood is shed…”
“… North Korea now capable of reaching as far inland as Texas.”
“Hundreds have broken through the wall and flooded into Mexico. Thousands more are expected to follow…”
I had a discussion with a friend at a party recently about whether there is a higher level of anxiety about the “end of days” now as opposed to the mid-90’s at the height of the Y2K/millennium fears. I said that I think the anxiety is higher, but it is different. There is almost a sense of resignation associates with these fears, which make it the perfect climate for a story such as this.
So it’s New Year’s Day, 2016, and I needed to start the year off right with a blog post. So I skimmed through the tables of contents in a few of my poetry books, looking for something appropriate. This one by Frost caught my attention.
To start the world of old
We had one age of gold
Not labored out of mines,
And some say there are signs
The second such has come,
The true Millennium,
The final golden glow
To end it. And if so
(And science ought to know)
We may well raise our heads
From weeding garden beds
And annotating books
To watch this end de luxe.
Although the Millennium has passed without all the crazy predictions coming true, and without Y2K computer glitches causing a global economic disaster, I cannot help but wonder if there was still a subtle shift in human consciousness, the beginning of a new age. As Frost points out, the golden age of humanity is past. So what now? What is this “true Millennium”? I feel, personally, that it is the final stage in the evolution of human consciousness which is now beginning to take shape.
As I look back at the year 2015, and as you do the same, I think we can all agree that the one word that sums things up is change, on myriad levels. Not all of this change has been pleasant or comfortable, but change seldom is. Change seems to be occurring more rapidly than it did in years past. We could debate the reasons for increased change, but we cannot deny it. And my feeling is that the causes are less important than the change itself, and for me, I need to embrace this change.
While I will continue to weed my garden bed (which I see as a symbol for working on my own personal growth) and also continue annotating books (learning and seeking knowledge), I will also make sure I take time to pause and “watch this end de luxe.” I’m not sure what humanity’s final age will look like, or whether this is really is the final stage, but I do think we live in an incredibly amazing age, and I am endlessly awed by the things I see happening in the world around me every day.
May the New Year bring you many blessings, and may you be a part of the change that is taking place.
This issue is the last in the arc, and is superb. The writing and artwork are top notch, and the symbolism is everything that one would expect from Millennium.
In this installment, Frank Black and Fox Mulder confront Lucy Butler in Frank’s old house in Seattle. Lucy is the feminine incarnation of Legion, the embodiment of evil. The return to the yellow house symbolizes Frank entering the deeper aspects of his psyche to face his inner demons. Lucy represents both Frank’s personal demons, as well as the amalgamation of evil as it exists on the cosmic level.
Structurally, the story draws on the symbols of divine cycles. There are circles within circles, all representative of the various cycles of spiritual growth and decay, of good and evil, of divine and profane.
The closing lines of this graphic novel sum everything up nicely, and I don’t feel that including the quote here will spoil the ending, because everything is just one eternal cycle.
True good and evil never die, Frank. They just lay low for a bit, lick their wounds, and wait for the cycle to start again… for an entire millennium, if necessary…
I really love this series. It truly does justice to the television show which I thought was dark and brilliant.
In this issue, we discover that Jordan Black shares her father’s special abilities, but with a slight difference. While Frank glimpses visions of past events, Jordan glimpses the future. Jordan is now a member of the Millennium Group, and Frank, for obvious reasons, does not trust them or their motives. But when Jordan reveals the common purpose that has reunified the group, Frank appears to recognize the importance of what they are doing.
Our quarry goes by many names. Its role in history, as both a destroyer and a tempter of men, has been alluded to in art and song and campfire tales since humans first crawled from the soup and aspired to dominate the world around them. It has been both worshipped and loathed in many forms under as many names… but it enjoys the title of Legion as much as any these days… and the games it plays in order to secure the corruption it seeks are as legendary as the ruin that follows.
Because this is a spin-off from the X-Files comic, it is not surprising that Fox Mulder is in this issue also (he was in a couple of the previous ones too). But at the end of this installment, Mulder encounters a person who was one of the creepiest characters to ever haunt the television screen: Lucy Butler. If you need a refresher on who Lucy is, or if you have never seen the original series, here are a couple short videos to check out.
In this issue, Frank Black returns to Seattle in search of his daughter, Jordan. He fears that the Millennium Group is after her and desperation fuels his frantic quest to find her. In the process, he is captured by Quentin McKittrick, a member of the group. The two have a great exchange regarding the turn of the millennium and the dark forces that exist in the world.
McKittrick: The millennium turned over, Frank. But just because the world didn’t end doesn’t mean nothing changed. There are forces, Frank, dark forces I know you’re aware of, pushing us toward end times and seeking to bargain with those privy to what goes on behind the veil. You still think you saved the world, though, don’t you?
Black: I think the world is fucked beyond saving, if you ask me. I think that parasites like you people will always be there, sucking blood from its rotting carcass until it’s just dust and bones. And I can’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t send you straight to hell if you don’t bring me Jordan Black right now.
There is a great twist at the end, which I will abstain from sharing so as not to spoil it for the readers. I will add, though, that this issue has a little comic relief from what is a dark series. One of the characters is depicted wearing a Pixies tee shirt, and there is a part where McKittrick points out that Frank Black shares the same name as the singer for the Pixies. This was something I had noticed, but I’m glad that the writers chose to make a nod to this correlation.
Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to keep reading stuff.
Wow! This installment reminds me of why I loved this show so much when it was on TV. It draws you into a dark psychological labyrinth haunted by shadows, demons, nightmares, and insanity.
In this issue, Frank Black and Fox Mulder continue investigating into the death of Monte Propps, the released convict who had used strange runes and deprivation to drive people to take their own lives. While investigating a murder scene, Frank encounters a boy who is possessed by Legion.
Boy: She thought she could hold us… she didn’t realize I was using her to get closer to you. But you knew that. You’ve already seen it, haven’t you, with that gift of yours? I made you an offer once. That offer still stands.
Frank Black: Legion.
Boy: It’s good to see you, Frank. They put so much value on the taking of life, but so little on the nurturing of it. I know it vexes you sometimes, as it does me.
Frank Black: What do you want?
Boy: The same thing you want, Frank. The same thing they do.
If you were a fan of the show, then this series is a must-read. That said, I leave you with this thought:
I have been waiting for this issue to come out since I first heard about it. Often, when you are anticipating something, you can be disappointed. Not the case with this initial release. It was as good as I’d hoped it would be. My understanding is that this is slated as a five-issue miniseries. If you were a fan of the television series, I encourage you to give this a read. If you have never seen the show, then you will probably not find this comic interesting and should probably skip it.
The issue begins with a flashback to December 1999, the dawn of the new millennium. Two computer technicians are upgrading a system and discussing Y2K issues.
It’s almost the year 2000 and we’ve all gotten soft and fat and lazy. Meanwhile, sectarian unrest, governmental malfeasance, financial meltdowns, and wars for both resources and hegemony are always just over the horizon. Everyone thinks the good times are gonna last forever.
The issue then flashes to the present where Agent Mulder (yes, that Mulder from the X-Files) is at an early release hearing for a convict who supposedly used strange runes and deprivation to brainwash individuals into taking their own lives. Upon signing out, Mulder notices Frank Black’s signature on the visitor log and then locates him at a nearby motel.
I don’t want to give away too much, since I hate spoilers. Suffice to say that the tale gets very dark and mysterious. The writing is excellent; the artwork is very, very good; and the storyline connects well with both the Millennium and the X-Files television series.
I will share one other quote in closing: I encourage you to give this a read if you were a fan of the television series. If you have never seen the series, then you will probably not find this comic interesting and should probably skip it.
Frank Black: There are forces at work in this world, Agent Mulder. Patient, deliberate, and dark forces. They’ve been around since long before you and I, and they’re certainly going to be here after we’ve gone.
Agent Mulder: Which forces are we talking about, Frank? The monsters under the bed, or those who seek them out?
Frank Black: In my experience, if one doesn’t get you, the other will.
You must be logged in to post a comment.