TXF5 cover
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Brian Denham
Publisher: WildStorm Comics
Series: WildStorm TXF #5
Published: 18 March 2009
Cover date: May 2009
Date(s): "Three Years Ago", "Today"


In the Badlands of South Dakota at 2:32 a.m. three years ago, a panicked, unseen person in a trailer fearfully voices their terror of something or someone inside the vehicle, urging the unseen terror to let them live.

TXF5 Walter Skinner briefs Fox Mulder and Dana Scully

In FBI Headquarters, AD Skinner assigns Mulder and Scully to an X-file.

In the office of Assistant Director Skinner at FBI Headquarters at 9:17 a.m. today, AD Skinner has been briefing Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully about a three-year string of missing women in the vicinity of Red Shirt, South Dakota. Mulder immediately deduces that Skinner is referring to the area known as "the Badlands". Skinner mentions that notes have been sent to local authorities, signed "Dante", and reveals that the only suspect is a man in custody who is claiming to have been possessed by "nasty ones from down under". Even though Skinner approximates the description as being that of demons, he also tells Mulder that the suspect claims not to believe in demonic possession. Mulder admits his knowledge that reports of demons and spirits haunting the Badlands have dated back to Indian legends but stopped three years ago.

In Red Shirt, South Dakota at 3:39 p.m., Mulder and Scully are visiting the area's police headquarters, where they speak with a sheriff and one of his deputies. The sheriff explains that the suspect's real name is Edward Blodget, although he is commonly referred to as Dante. The FBI agents also learn that the suspect is "a bit off" (having suffered a nervous breakdown that resulted in a hospital stay) but that, with no prior history of serious arrests, he only began to be considered as a suspect after he started mumbling in a pub called the Rusty Nail. The FBI agents are required to determine whether Dante's mumblings are suspicious or soused and Mulder is eager to meet the suspect.

TXF5 Dante discusses theories

Dante reveals what he knows about the history of Hollow Earth theories.

In a questioning room, the sheriff forcefully tries to persuade the suspect to talk with the two agents but is interrupted by Mulder. The male FBI agent calmly introduces himself and Scully to Dante, mentioning that they are interested to learn about the netherworld and "the nasty ones." Dante and Mulder consecutively detail their knowledge of history concerning the lore of subterranean entities; meanwhile, Dante is initially skeptical that Mulder believes him, until Mulder suggests that the tales could be true, after which Dante corrects him about what he himself believes - that the entities are not demons but are simply nasty.

Dante's claims regarding the supposed history of the nasty beings are interrupted by the arrival of another law enforcement officer, who tells the sheriff that yet another woman has gone missing. When the sheriff realizes that the last sighting of the woman – a Laurie Skye – was right before the suspect was arrested, he angrily orders Dante to reveal where she is and whether he killed her. Dante replies by mumbling about the sheriff's stupidity, quietly claiming that he never kills anyone and tearing back the clothing on his left shoulder to reveal a strange wound from something that he wishes would stop. Despite Mulder asking questions about the wound, Dante is now silent, which the sheriff regards as one of the prisoner's typical behaviors. Both Scully and Mulder request paperwork from the sheriff, who lets them know that they can take it away while they are leaving.

Outside, the agents head away from the police headquarters, alone. Their conversation is stilted, as they are frustrated with each other, but they agree to stop off at a takeout on the way to their motel, where they plan to eat while reviewing the reports separately in the room of each agent.

Elsewhere, two deputies are attempting to transfer the prisoner back to the jail where he has been confined, when Dante suddenly assaults them both and runs off into the wilderness, referring to the deputies as "fools" and swearing that they will never stop a particular thing that he does not specify. One of the deputies aims his gun in Dante's direction, but the prisoner has already managed to make a clean escape and the deputy consequently comments in frustration.

Scully is eating salad in her room as Mulder starts to record an audio message for her in case something happens to him, as he is planning to head to Dante's former abode in the agents' car. Mulder drives to Dante's old residence – the same trailer where the unseen person was terrified, three years ago – and finds that the interior of the vehicle is in a state of disarray, although he is unsure why it is in such a mess. He begins to explore the local terrain, starting to head underground, and soon finds an antique shack on the floor of a typical, moonlit bowl-canyon. Considering that Dante might use the shack when not in his trailer, Mulder bursts inside the structure, half-expecting to find Laurie Skye there. He is disappointed that she is not inside but he does find many books about the subterranean world, scribbled annotations from those publications as well as newspapers about the many disappearances in the area, revealing that the people who went missing prior to three years ago not only included women but also men. Mulder also finds scrawled, fully-capitalized writing etched into a wooden wall of the shack, hidden behind wallpaper that he tears away; this text reads, "And the nasty ones shall set your soul free."

Meanwhile, Scully leaves a phone message for AD Skinner, believing one of the taunting notes from Dante has several similarities to letters sent by the San Francisco Zodiac Killer. Scully is aware that there is no true link between the two letter-senders but is acting on the possibility that Dante is a copycat killer.
TXF5 Dana Scully calls while Fox Mulder comments on etchings

Scully records a phone message for Skinner while Mulder comments on many etchings he has found.

She also deduces that, in the likely possibility that the Dante letters were sent by the suspected Blodget, the notes were probably written with his left hand, as a sample of his handwriting does not match one of the letters.

Underground, Mulder – all the while recording his audio message for Scully – has found more scrawled writing under the wallpaper, on all four walls of the shack. He believes it is proof that Blodget sent the notes addressed from Dante, as the writing on those notes matches the text on the wooden walls, and hopes it is merely the rantings of a delusional serial killer rather than what the writing appears to be – the history of something real. Strange muffled scuffing sounds under the shack draw Mulder to a section of loose floorboards that constitute a makeshift trapdoor, beneath which he finds an unresponsive Laurie Skye. She is dragged underground by an unseen force, going missing again. Mulder, wearing an FBI uniform jacket, decides to follow her, going after the same scuffing noises he heard before.

At the motel, Scully notices that all fifteen of the missing women had type O blood. She deduces that this further proves the women were all targeted by a single predator and starts to ask herself about Dante's involvement in these disappearances, in light of the new evidence, when a knock on the door of her motel room interrupts her thought processes. Scully initially expects that her visitor is Mulder, come to finally apologize, but then finds it is one of the deputies who were attacked earlier. He informs her of Blodget's escape and tells her several other facts, from which she pieces together the news that Mulder has gone to Blodget's trailer, where Scully now insists to be taken.

Mulder meanwhile crawls through subterranean tunneling while complaining – in his message to Scully – about the conditions that now surround him. He comes across a wall of phosphorescent rock etched with Dante's scribblings, as well as a nearby cavern filled with bones, at least one of which bears teethmarks. Mulder begins to worry that he will not find Laurie Skye in time but he is suddenly knocked unconscious by a bone-wielding group of beastly monsters.

Background InformationEdit

TXF5 cover art

The cover art for this issue.

  • This is the first half of a story that was concluded in the next issue.
  • This issue was released with one cover.
  • This is the first issue in its series to have a title and subtitle, being the first of two issues to have both; the following installment – the final issue in the series – is subtitled Dante's Muse Part II: Netherworld and, consequently, the bottom of this installment's final page includes the words "Concluded Next Issue: NETHERWORLD", written at the bottom of this issue's last frame. Although the subtitle of this installment (Dante's Muse Part I: Nasty Ones) appears inside the comic itself, it does not appear on the issue's front cover (in common with the concluding part of the story).
  • Although the basement X-files office appears in Issues #0 and 1 (with the exterior of FBI Headquarters appearing in an establishing frame in the former issue and the latter installment showing Mulder, Scully and a character exclusive to that issue, Ms. Park, outside the building), this issue is the only installment of its series in which Skinner's office appears. Likewise, it is also the only issue in its series to show the appearance of an X-file.
  • The appearance of the trailer in this story is very similar to the trailer of Max Fenig, who featured in a few episodes of The X-Files television series.
  • One of several repeated phrases and ideas in this episode is "jumping sharks". This may be a reference to the title "Jump the Shark", a Season 9 episode of The X-Files. In this story, Scully asks Mulder – as they are driving away from the police headquarters – whether, by telling Dante about his own knowledge of Hollow Earth lore, he was "jumping sharks again". Mulder – shortly after first heading underground – states, "no sharks in here, nothing but rock and no room to jump it". Upon discovering Dante's many scribblings under the shack's wallpaper, Mulder comments on his own opinion that they are more than an insight into the deranged mind of a serial killer by remarking, "call it shark-jumping if you will, Scully."
  • There are at least two more repeated phrases and ideas. Skinner responds to Mulder's deduction that the area where himself and Scully are being sent is the Badlands by referring to the area as "very bad" and Mulder later – while beginning to explore the underground near Dante's trailer – remarks that the terrain is "otherwise known as Skinner's very bad lands indeed". In the frame that follows this, Mulder says, "somebody just tossed me an 'o' at the back end of bingo" and he later exclaims, reacting to his finding of the makeshift trapdoor, "bingo redux" (this latter statement may also be a reference to the episode titles of the Season 5 two-parter "Redux" and "Redux II").
  • This issue is notable for its numerous references to historical characters from reality. These include Madame Blavatsky, Hitler, Alice (from Alice in Wonderland), Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, George Custer, John Wayne, Chris Columbus, the Three Stooges, Kilroy and the Zodiac Killer.
  • Real-world figures from the making of WildStorm Comics' series of The X-Files comics also make a cameo appearance; in the one frame of this installment that features the newspapers in Dante's shack, a group photo that can be seen includes the likenesses of behind-the-scenes personnel such as Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz.


  • Writer: Doug Moench
  • Artists:
    • Brian Denham (interior art & cover)
    • Carlos Badilla (color art)
    • Ed Dukeshire] (letter art)
    • Kelsey Shannon (cover art)
  • Editor: Shannon Eric Denton
  • THE X-FILES created by Chris Carter


Stories in WildStorm Comics' range of The X-Files comics
Issue #0 Issues #1 & #2 Issues #3 & #4
Issues #5 (Dante's Muse Part I: Nasty Ones) & #6 (Dante's Muse Part II: Netherworld)