by Michael Brown, staff writer
New Comic Day has come and gone, and all pull lists should be emptied, because you know the guy behind the counter doesn’t like it when your folder gets full. I’ve read my stuff and I’ll give you the lowdown on what I think are the notables of the week.
THE X-FILES: CONSPIRACY
- Written by Paul Crilley
- Art by John Stanisci
- Colors by Steven Downer
- Letters by Chris Mowry
- Editor: Denton J. Tipton
- Published by IDW Publishing
SPOILERS! Tread ye lightly.
IDW, the home of licensed properties, has kicked off its third company-wide crossover with The X-Files:Conspiracy. Like Infestation and Infestation 2 before it, Conspiracy pulls together IDW’s licensed properties into one cohesive event, with no actual team-ups with the characters, but the meta plot has ramifications in all the books involved. In Infestation, the Robots vs. Zombies book spilled over into the other “universes”, seeing the G.I. Joe team, the Transformers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and others facing either zombies or robots. Infestation 2 turned the Lovecraftian Elder Gods onto the IDW-verse. But Conspiracy gets a little different, and while it sounds like nerdvana, some of it really doesn’t work. If you haven’t been reading The X-Files: Season 10, there are going to be some major spoilers. Stop reading this, go to your comic book shop or Comixology or IDW or wherever and buy it and read it and then come back. Seriously. Go now. I’ll wait.
You’re back! Fantastic! Okay, then. Let’s continue.
In The X-Files: Conspiracy, The Lone Gunmen, revealed to still be alive during the events of the first X-Files story arc, have been sent Internet files from the future, warning of an impending plague that will kill millions. Attached to the files are clues that may give the Lone Gunmen the chance to stop it. Clues involving a shadowy race of “manphibians”, the Ghostbusters in New York, robots that turn into everyday items, and a vengeful spirit from beyond the grave. The story will be bookended with The X-Files: Conspiracy #1 and #2, and expanded upon in The X-Files: Conspiracy- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The X-Files: Conspiracy- Ghostbusters, Transformers, and The X-Files: Conspiracy- The Crow.
Conspiracy is different from the other two crossovers in that The Lone Gunmen actually meet the Ghostbusters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Transformers. As of this writing, The Crow tie-inis yet to be released so any talk of that and Conspiracy #2 will have to wait. The X-Files: Conspiracy #1 is a great story focusing on The Lone Gunmen, who have always been a tension relieving source in The X-Files mythos. Fast pacing, great one-liners and an action-packed tale highlight an X-Files tale that’s at it’s best. But the best is still coming, right? The Lone Gunmen and the TMNT, the Transformers, Ghostbusters, and the Crow? Epic nerdness, yeah?!
The Ghostbusters tie-in was a let down. Both Ghostbusters and The X-Files are in my pull list every monthand I was waiting on an epic meet up, even though I knew there was no way it could work. In The X-Files, the paranormal exists as a dark and shadowy undercurrent to our real world. Things to not be believed… to be rationalized because the truth will scare the hell out of you. In Ghostbusters, while still dark at times as part of a comedy/horror atmosphere, the gang slug it out with ghosts and demons and get a paycheck from it. And while at times there are some legitimate horror moments, they remain commonplace. And then there’s the fact that, by now, we know the Ghostbusters are worldwide sensations from the montage in the first film alone. So when the Lone Gunmen drive to New York to investigate them, all the while scoffing about them being charlatans and fakes when even Walter Peck is convinced… it just didn’t work for me. And then there’s the art. If you read Ghostbusters, you know how beautiful Dan Schoening’s art is. It has a Saturday Morning look that fits the book perfectly. Salvador Navarro, whose artwork graces the tie in, is good and realistic and in any other book would be beautiful, but it just didn’t fit. But I imagine it was to keep the Lone Gunmen looking like they do in The X-Files, at the cost of hurting the looks of Venkman and the gang. Too many changes had to be made to make this work, and while I so desperately wanted it to, it just didn’t. An A for effort, though.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tie-in, on the other hand, worked and I really enjoyed it. The Lone Gunmen travel to Northampton to investigate the “manphibians”, who are actually the Turtles hiding out after a tragedy-filled encounter with Shredder and the Foot in their own book. Mulder and Scully even cameo in this one asthe Lone Gunmen and the Turtles team-up to investigate missing persons in a story that serves as a sequel of sorts to a classic X-Files episode. This would have been an even better story if it were a stand-alone. If Ghostbusters was the awful dinner, then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the delicious dessert. Michael Walsh’s pencils, which serve to give The X-Files its look every month, look great on the TMNT.
Part Four of Conspiracy came out this week and was in my pull list. It involves the Lone Gunmen seeking out the Autobots in the Transformers tie-in. Through some shadowy back channels, Byers, Frohike, and Langly contact the Autobots while searching for clues to the mysterious Skylogic Corporation. The Autobot Ratchet, investigating possible signs of a Decepticon return, is ambushed by unknown forces, managing to send back to Optimus Prime a garbled transmission with the word “Skylogic” in it. This prompts Optimus and Bumblebee to investigate his disappearance, which brings about a clandestine meeting with The Lone Gunmen, and a team-up to rescue Ratchet and investigate Skylogic.
I went in with an open mind, really wanting to like this one, but I had the same complaints with this one as I did with Ghostbusters. The two properties just don’t work well together. How do two warring factions of 150 foot tall robots escape Mulder and The Lone Gunmen’s notice all this time? Nitpicky? Maybe. Probably. But I couldn’t shake it as I read it, and the suspension of disbelief didn’t happen. And there were a couple of scenes with Langly that made me wonder if he’d lost his mind somewhere in the story. I had to backtrack to check. Paul Crilley, who did an awesome job on The X-Files: Conspiracy #1, lost it here with Langly’s over-the-top craziness. Dheeraj Verma’s art was dark and really helped the conspiracy vibe the story was looking for. Aside from that, this whole issue was a stinker.
And as I said, earlier, The X-Files: Conspiracy- The Crow and The X-Files: Conspiracy #2haven’t been released yet, but when they do, I’ll wrap this thing up and offer my final thoughts.
GHOSTBUSTERS #13: MASS HYSTERIA: PART ONE OF EIGHT
- Written by Erik Burnham
- Art by Dan Schoening
- Colors by Luis Antonio Delgado
- Letters by Neil Uyetake
- Edited by Tom Waltz
- IDW Publishing
I can’t do a review on Ghostbusters without mentioning that this week delivered a collective gut punch to comedy fans with the passing of Harold Ramis. Ramis was a comedy craftsman as both a writer and an actor. As a 14 year-old kid in small town America, Ghostbusters was my first exposure to Ramis, and his Egon Spengler was classic, beautiful, dry-wit, in-your-face comedy. Ghostbusters was an important part of my growing up in the ’80’s and still influences my adult life today, whether I’m spouting one-liners from the film, running a Ghostbusters RPG set in my home town, or buying an XBox 360 just so I could play the video game. Which I seriously did. If you check out my bio on the Meet The Staff tab on the Krypton Radio home page, you’ll see I’m wearing a Ghostbusters T-shirt. It would be some years later when I saw Stripes, and National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Groundhog Day, which is a favorite of mine. But Ghostbusters is what I’ll remember about Mr. Ramis. I am a fan of the Ghostbusters comic and Mr. Ramis’ voice as Egon comes through loud and clear in the audio of my mind. And Ramis’ death comes on the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, which is especially saddening for fans. So if you celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters in whatever way you do, keep the Ramis family in mind. maybe offer up a toast for him. And a silent thank you to his wife, for sharing her husband’s gift with the rest of us.
IDW has kicked off the 30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters with the first part of an eight part epic called “Mass Hysteria”. And everything that has happened to the team thus far all comes down to this. Recently, the Ghostbusters were abducted by a group of demons and unceremoniously dumped in limbo. Egon rigged their proton packs to explode, opening a hole back to Earth and allowing the team to escape. But, as Egon warned, the explosion sent ripples across the dimensional fabric, possibly drawing the attention and ire of other things.
And something powerful has indeed taken notice. And the Ghostbusters may be in for the fight of their lives.
If a Ghostbusters 3 ever happens, Erik Burnham, who writes for the series, needs to be tapped to at least help with the screenplay, as he has the characters down pat and is providing crucial development. Every story has the necessary blend of comedy/horror, and the one-liners and the laughs are always present. Burnham even plays the new characters off the old with no sense of force or awkwardness. Everything just clicks. Winston just got married, new Ghostbuster Melanie Ortiz, an FBI liaison with the team, has a friendship with Venkman that falls just short of romantic and is the only person who can keep him under control. Kylie Griffin is a new hire. She works at Ray’s occult bookstore and provides a foil for Pete Venkman. Fans may recognize Kylie from the Extreme Ghostbusters animated series. No Extreme Ghostbusters here, though. New hire Ron Alexander, the tech guy of the team of ghost catchers who stole the Ghostbusters’ tech, was added to the team and later sent to Chicago to help the Rookie, from the video game, who now runs his own franchise.
The team working on this book have an obvious love for Ghostbusters and they consistently deliver quality stories worthy of Aykroyd and Ramis. The series is truly the continuation of the movies and the video game and nothing else in between. This issue in particular has the creep factor amped up just a bit… the dark just a bit darker… presumably to pave the way for what the boys and girls in gray are about to tackle for the next eight issues. And if you’ve waffled about checking out this book, this is a great jumping-on point for new readers. Definitely a book worth checking out.
Other books worth checking out this week: Superior Spider-Man #29, Fantastic Four #1, The Walking Dead #122, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #31, Hawkeye #15, Justice League Dark #28.
And that’s my pull list. Agree or disagree with any of the above? What was on your pull list this week? What else should I be reading that maybe I’m missing? Or do you just want to talk comics? Feel free to leave a comment below, but keep it clean and hate-free, please. Four color belongs in comics, not language. Plus, the Editors will have to break out the Transmogrifying Spatial Redactotron. And we don’t want that. They get mad when they have to put it back in the closet. Or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you next week. Happy Reading, Kryptonics!
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