Taking place in a similar period to The X-Files Season 10, The X-Files: Conspiracy is a major crossover run that was announced last year by IDW. Instead of Mulder and Scully as the main protagonists, we’re following The Lone Gunmen: Melvin Frohike, John Fitzgerald Byers, and Richard Langly, who we’re reintroduced during issue two of season ten.
One night, Langly is sent a huge drop of encrypted files by email. As he slowly begins to decrypt them, the guys learn two things: one – that something worrying is quite possibly going down at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and two – that they may have information on future events as the dates of newspaper articles from the files sent to them are all in the future by several weeks to several months.
Those who may have been missing the more colourful world of The Lone Gunmen since the cancellation of their TV series may find a degree of fulfilment in this issue. From quite of this world conspiracy theories (y’know, hence the series title) to the guys having their lives on the line – it’s all the kinds of high stakes fun that they infrequently experienced in the main run of The X-Files over most of their tenure.
What is currently frustrating me with this issue so far is that writer Paul Crilley has either not bothered or been allowed to further expand on how it is that these three particular characters are back. The explanation given to Mulder in issue two of season ten (which was Joe Harris on writing duty) was half-arsed, considering how the characters were removed from the original X-Files TV series. So, while I am happy to see the boys back, I am not so happy to still be left with no credible, narratively led, explanation as to their being there.
Gelling Crilley’s story together is the artwork of John Stanisci. At this point I’m not too sure about it. There’s some excellent moments where it’s quite detailed and the proportions work and there are moments where things don’t look quite right (see next image below) and it’s distracting.
When the series was originally announced, we knew that they would be tracking down characters from other franchises like the Ghostbusters, the Transformers and even the Crow. The manner in which a single thread of story has been set up to wind through this is all very good, with the suggestion that the (by X-Files standards) tabloid-esque characters from these other series will be of some help in dealing with the ticking time bomb that’s been put in the Lone Gunmen’s way.
Truly, it’s all getting a bit 24 within its pages as the guys realise that they need to start tracking down the subjects of the newspaper headlines that were dumped in Langly’s inbox. And it’s nice that Mulder and Scully are involved, in their own way. There was this great moment where our favourite FBI agents were off investigating a new case, the Lone Gunmen turn up to tell them about the files, and Mulder thinks it’s all just fake tabloid crud. And then he’s shown just this one front page and he clicks that it’s related to the case he’s just started and even though you can see ahead of this moment that this turnaround was going to happen… the beat between switching from disbelief to belief is smoothly done.
You don’t need to have read anything from season 10 to really get this series, so far, which is nice if you have’t quite liked the idea of jumping on to that. Still, you’re going to want a general understanding of what the three main characters are already like. Paul Crilley does a nice job of setting things up for the other issues and I am now certainly wanting to know whether The Lone Gunmen will prevail and save the day, but what I want to see even more is how all the crossovers will work.
The X-Files: Conspiracy #1 is out now, including digitally. We bought our own copy.