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The X-Files (Topps) – Ground Zero #1-4 (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Ground Zero offers an indication of just how much success Topps was enjoying with their line of licensed X-Files comic books.

The monthly series was still being published, and Season One was on a bimonthly schedule. Both books had stable creative teams, and there was no indication that they were likely to wrap up any time soon. Of course, Topps would pull of the comic book market in late 1998, but there was no indication that they considered their X-Files line to be anything other than a complete success. As such, it made sense to expand the line. After all, the company had already used the brand to sell annuals and digests.

Eye see all...

Eye see all…

However, there was reportedly a considerable amount of friction between Topps and Ten Thirteen over the comic book line. Ten Thirteen was reportedly quite firm in what they would and would not allow to be published. Writers John Rozum and Stefan Petrucha have talked about how difficult it was to get their scripts published for the monthly series. It seems that Topps was eager to work around these restrictions. It is telling that neither Season One nor Ground Zero were original concepts; they were adaptations of ideas and stories Ten Thirteen had already approved.

Ground Zero is written by veteran tie-in author Kevin J. Anderson. Anderson had already written a number of popular X-Files tie-in books and had provided a fill-in arc on the monthly comic book with Family Portrait. The artwork for Ground Zero is provided by Gordon Purcell, one of the best likeness artists in the business. Publishing a four-issue adaptation of a tie-in novel is the very definition of a “safe” choice to expand the line, and only illustrates some of the wasted opportunities towards the end of Topps’ stewardship of the license.

Doomsday clock...

Doomsday clock…

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The X-Files (Topps) #20-21 – Family Portrait (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Kevin J. Anderson is a very experienced hand when it comes to tie-in fiction.

Although Assemblers of Infinity was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1993, Anderson is perhaps best known for his work with licenced properties. He has written a significant number of Star Wars novels. He has published a trio of books set in the world of The X-Files. Indeed, Anderson would even adapt his first novel – Ground Zero – into a comic book miniseries for Topps. When Brian Herbert decided to finish his father’s Dune series, he collaborated with Anderson.

Photo finish...

Photo finish…

So Anderson is very much a safe pair of hands. He is a writer you can trust to construct a functional two-part X-Files story with a logical structure and a solid central premise. Anderson knows how to work within the boundaries of tie-in media, and he knows how to write a solid science-fiction or fantasy story. Pairing him with artist Gordon Purcell makes a great deal of sense, particularly for comic book that is trying hard to cement its place as a good old-fashioned tie-in.

Family Portrait is not exceptional, but it doesn’t try to be. Instead, it is functional. It is more efficient than ambitious, feeling very much like a classic horror comic that just happens to feature Mulder and Scully than a compelling episode of The X-Files in its own right.

Let's see what develops...

Let’s see what develops…

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