One of my biggest peeves about the new X-Files comics is how very dead characters in the TV series have been brought back to life on the pages. They are explained away with some moments that feel no more meaningful than “ha-ha just kidding, we’re not dead!”
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why these characters have been brought back and there is a part of me that is pleased about it. It’s just that the other part just screams at how it’s ruining the canon. I understand that The X-Files franchise is going to be more profitable with its popular secondary characters such as The Lone Gunmen alive and well to tell stories of their own. I guess rather than create stories set in the 90s/early 2000 when the characters were alive, someone thought it necessary to have them suddenly not dead and their stories set now. For the sake of what? Use of smartphones?
When I first heard about the new Lone Gunmen spin off comics Conspiracy, a crossover with IDW’s other titles (TNMT, Transformers, Ghostbusters and The Crow) I was dubious. I wondered how far they would venture into bad fan-fiction territory. Fortunately I was surprised, and unfortunately, I was also disappointed.
Conspiracy starts with The Lone Gunmen receiving an encrypted data file from the future which sets them on a journey investigating so-called tabloid stories of Ghost hunters, mutant turtles and shape shifting aliens which all may be connected to a plague that is set to wipe out humanity. Mulder and Scully are also on the case, investigating an outbreak of the deadly virus.
Issue #1 starts out solid setting up the story and its bookend (Conspiracy #2) it equally good, if not a little silly at times. I like the way Paul Crilley has written the Gunmen as well as Mulder and Scully. They are in character and it really feels like them on the pages. I would love to see him work on the X-Files season 10 at some stage, as I really think the series would benefit from his writing.
The crossover comics themselves left a little to be desired. The first, Conspiracy: Ghostbusters by Erik Burnham was good, but after the completely unrelated (albeit entertaining) event that took place for most of the story, I felt like the last couple of pages were just an info-dump to get back to the Conspiracy plot.
Next was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover by Ed Brisson. As a fan of TMNT, I was most looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, the story brought back the vampires from X-Files episode Bad Blood. It was a nice nod to the series in a way, and connecting the turtles to it via the pizza shop, but the inclusion felt like what most of XFS10 is suffering from, too much dredging up of the past.
The TMNT crossover is followed by the Transformers, another solid effort by Paul Crilley, and not surprisingly, my favourite aside from the bookend issues. I really enjoyed it and it didn’t feel like a chore to read. It stayed within the plot of the Conspiracy series, whilst giving the Transformers their own story. Also …ninja buddies forever.
The Crow was last in the crossovers written by Denton J. Tripton and my least favourite. I think mainly because I am unfamiliar with the story and it did nothing to capture my attention. I did, however, like how the story came full circle, connecting and tying up some of the events from Conspiracy #1.
The art in all the issues was really just so-so for me. The Ghostbusters issue deserves praise for at least having the characters look like recognisable versions of themselves. The Transformers issue is my favourite for being the most artistic. The covers on the other hand, I loved. The standard covers are wonderful, but the variants, each issue being a tabloid newspaper cover, are by far the best and I was so happy I was able to buy them all.
Overall, I liked this Lone Gunmen series. The plot of them receiving the files from the future and the mutated virus really worked, but the crossovers added no value to it for me. Nor did it make me want to start reading any of those other titles, as I’m sure was IDW’s intention.
If crossovers of IDW titles are going to be inevitable, I’d love to see Mulder and Scully somehow cross paths with The Doctor, because on the pages of a comic anything is possible.