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The X-Files: Season One (Topps) #0 – Pilot (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.

Given the success of the monthly comic book series, it made sense for Topps to try to capitalise on The X-Files as much as possible. The series was exploding into the mainstream. Chris Carter was launched a second television show, Millennium, to capitalise on the success. Fox were planning to move the series to Sunday nights. There was already talk about a possible movie franchise. This was a great time to be publishing X-Files comics.

Topps had already used the series to sell “digests” packed with unrelated comics, and had published annuals to get a little extra sales revenue into the fiscal year. However, there was a clear desire to publish more X-Files work with more consistency. Ideas began to percolate – Kevin J. Anderson would pen a miniseries based on his Ground Zero novel during the show’s fifth season, for example. The company also decided to publish a series of comic books adapting early episodes of the series.

The truth is out there...

The truth is out there…

The series didn’t properly launch until the following year, with a series of monthly adaptations of first season episodes running from the start of the fifth season through to the month following the release of X-Files: Fight the Future. Conveniently titled Season One, these comics were only cancelled when Topps folded its comic book division – vanishing quite suddenly from the stands, with little warning.

The adaptation of The Pilot was actually released a year earlier than the monthly series – it was re-packaged and re-released once Topps committed to a monthly series of adaptations. As such, it makes for a strange teaser of things to come.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship...

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship…

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The X-Files – Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Then there are those who care not about extraterrestrials, searching for meaning in other human beings. Rare or lucky are those who find it. For although we may not be alone in the universe, in our own separate ways, on this planet, we are all alone.

– Darin Morgan takes his bow

It came from beyond the stars...

It came from beyond the stars…

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The X-Files (Topps) #4-6 – Firebird (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Firebird is the first multi-part story told in the pages of The X-Files. Writer Stefan Petrucha and artist Charles Adlard don’t transition from done-in-one stories to two-part adventures, instead skipping the middle step and producing a three-issue epic. While A Little Dream of Me exposed the limitations facing a creative team working on a tie-in, Firebird demonstrates the strengths of the format. Spanning from Siberia to New Mexico, Firebird has an epic scale that would not be possible on the second season of The X-Files.

(Rather interestingly – and perhaps tellingly – Petrucha takes the comics to places that the show wants to go. The American South-West would be very difficult to replicate in Vancouver, prompting the creative team to make an ambitious effort to bring Mulder and Scully to New Mexico in Anasazi, infamously painting a quarry red to achieve the desired result. The show would wait until the fourth season before it was confident enough to take Mulder to Siberia in Tunguska and Terma.)

Something out of this world?

Something out of this world?

As with Not To Be Opened Until X-Mas, Firebird is very much a comic book story. While the show was reluctant have Mulder and Scully directly encounter aliens, the story features a monster that looks like something from the Lovecraft mythos. While the stakes on the show were generally rather personal to this point, Firebird puts the entire population of New Mexico (if not the world) at stake. While the series took its time revealing its evil conspiracy, Firebird gives us a cabal headed by a monologuing skull-holding would-be supervillain.

Perhaps surprisingly, this works. It’s clear that Petrucha and Adlard are aware that they are working in a different medium with different expectations and conventions. Firebird is very much an X-Files comic book epic, a story that couldn’t be realised on film. And there’s something very endearing about that.

Alien affairs...

Alien affairs…

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