In the first issue of IDW’s X-Files crossover, the Lone Gunmen had begun searching for information about a deadly virus that would eventually kill millions… and that they were sent a warning about from the future. Since the warnings were also apparently written by the guys in marketing, they included multiple references to other IDW properties, leading the trio embark on a synergy-filled road trip to check out other IDW franchises/urban legends in hopes of finding a cure (and generating reader interest). An X-Files crossover… is it good?
X-Files Conspiracy: Ghostbusters (IDW Publishing)
After a great looking panel of the Lone Gunmen standing face to face with a paranormal entity, we flash back to them driving towards New York to investigate the Ghostbusters. Byers seems more than a little skeptical about them being the real deal while Langley and Frohike are a bit more receptive to the idea.
Writer Erik Burnham seems well aware of the fact that such a public and highly publicized operation like ‘The Ghostbusters’ would struggle to be classified as an “urban legend.” He admirably attempts to address this, but it still falls a bit flat.
When the Gunmen finally arrive at the Ghostbusters’ headquarters, they use forged press passes and a story about being there for an interview to get them inside. While snooping around, the group continues to remain generally skeptical of the operation, with Byers even dismissing a face to face encounter with Slimer as a well-constructed illusion.
“Pssh…that looks like a melted Gummy Bear I ate once.”
They eventually come across a ghost containment unit with a sticky note on it that says ‘Do not touch’…which of course means that it gets touched.
Meanwhile, the Ghostbusters team returns from the field to discover the uninvited quests snooping around their headquarters. After heading inside, they find the Lone Gunmen face to face with an escaped (and very aggressive) paranormal entity (leading back to the issue’s opening)….AND STILL not convinced of its authenticity.
“…but you know what’s not fake? The urine currently running down my leg.”
After the ghost/monster somehow cuts the power, the group splits up to search for it. This allows the characters to interact a bit more and inspires Frohike to awkwardly attempt to spit some game in Janine’s direction. Before he can really put on the charm, however, the ghost reveals itself by attacking Langley. Fortunately for him, the Ghostbusters are able to subdue it.
After the ghost is captured and contained, we discover that Ray (Dan Aykroyd’s character) is a huge Lone Gunman fan (which totally makes sense and was a great touch). The two groups then converse a bit, with Egon (Harold Ramis’ character) tentatively linking the delivery of the warning the Lone Gunmen received from the future with a possible supernatural explanation/entity.
After saying goodbye, the Gunman depart, still unsure if they learned anything useful or not. Meanwhile, a report on the radio discusses the beginning of the lethal viral outbreak that they are trying to prevent.
Is It Good?
I’m not a regular reader of the Ghostbusters ongoing series, so my knowledge of the material is limited to the movies, television show, and older comics. Coming from that standpoint, I felt like the interaction between the characters felt very authentic with what I remembered. The interactions between the Gunmen and their dealings with another paranormal investigative group were also very well handled.
That being said, the “crossover” factor of this issue felt incredibly forced. The opening chapter of the miniseries felt like a major event, but this issue just seemed like a flimsy excuse to have the two major franchises interact with each other. It was kind of fun, but not that great from a story-telling perspective.
As far as the art is concerned, the pencils by Salvador Navarro at times rendered the characters a little wooden. His backgrounds and depictions of the story’s supernatural elements, however, were absolutely superb. And even his more “wooden” portraits of the Lone Gunmen were still incredibly well done from a detail and likeness standpoint.
Overall this is a fun issue, but suffers from plot limitations that a crossover like this can entail. I was already worried that the overall story would devolve from an engaging mystery into a synergy-inspired cash grab. Despite this creative team’s admirable and sometimes very enjoyable efforts, that’s exactly what the issue felt like.