The Lone Gunmen continue their quest to stop a lethal virus from killing billions of people while also creating synergy between IDW comic franchises. Their next stop has them face to face with everyone’s favorite heroes in a half shell. Is it good?
The X-Files Conspiracy: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Review
The issue begins with a couple of punk rock stereotypes stalking the woods of North Hampton and trying to take pictures of a rumored vampire cult. My first thought was “You dumbass, vampires don’t show up in pictures.” It turns out, however, that this wasn’t an oversight on the part of the character or writer Ed Brisson (we’ll get to why, later).
The pair of Billy Idol wannabes manage instead to snap a picture of something much more interesting: A sulking ninja turtle by the name of Leonardo.
“Of course I used a camera instead of my phone. I’m a hipster, woman!”
Meanwhile, we catch up with the Lone Gunmen searching for the Ninja Turtles in the sewer. Ironically, the four brothers are the ones dwelling on the surface, still recovering from the events of City Fall in beautiful North Hampton. Donatello informs Leonardo that his picture was taken, which leads them both to lament just how mucked up their lives have been recently.
The Lone Gunmen get wind of the strange “Manphibian” spotted in North Hampton, which matches the creatures from one of the ominous warnings they’ve allegedly received from the future. After arriving at the town, the trio discovers that a rash of mysterious deaths have plagued the area. All of them are linked by a particular chemical being found in the victims’ systems, their blood being completely drained, and the fact that they all ordered from the same pizza place.
Langley brushes off the local police never catching onto this as simple incompetence. I, on the other hand, initially dismissed it as lazy writing. It turns out, however, that the police are not involved for a very specific reason (we’ll get to that soon).
After the Gunmen are chased off from their stake out by the local sheriff, we see April and Casey going out for a “real” date to the same local pizza place where all the victims had eaten. The Turtles have also followed them there out of a combination of concern and boredom. As expected, the Lone Gunmen manage to find a way to return and continue staking out the diner.
…besides the fact that Frohike was probably checking out April.
At this point, the issue becomes a real treat for fans of the X-Files television series. Once the eyes of the kid who took Casey and April’s orders turn green, it should be obvious…but after he tries to steal their shoes, there’s no question that it’s Ronnie Strickland from the classic season five episode, “Bad Blood.”
When the Turtles jump in to save their friends, the Lone Gunmen are surprised to learn that the anamorphic creatures aren’t vampires…and even more surprised when the sheriff (along with a large portion of the town) show up behind them with glowing green eyes, as well.
The following pages feature a fight scene that is both thrilling and hilarious, especially to those who know their X-Files lore (the “throw the seeds on the floor” part is worth the price of admission, alone). The only thing missing was Scully fawning over the sheriff.
Although Frohike did seem a bit more nervous than he usually is around law enforcement types.
After the battle is over, The Gunmen attempt to explain to the Turtles why they need a sample of their blood to prevent a future viral outbreak. Predictably, Raphael and the rest angrily blow them off. But Leonardo, who is currently learning a thing or two about second chances, decides to hear them out on his own.
Is It Good?
When you’re dealing with franchise cross overs, there are two ways to go:
- Make it accessible so that it might interest new readers enough to try a different series.
- Make it in-depth enough that fans of both franchises will enjoy it.
Writer Ed Brisson definitely went with the latter. Due to being a huge fan (and reader) of both X-Files and TMNT, the references to both franchise’s mythologies and in-jokes were a pure joy for me to read. I must admit, however, that if I was unfamiliar with one or both of them, this issue would have felt very inaccessible. Maybe that doesn’t make me the best person to review this title, especially if what IDW wanted was to draw in new readers from one audience to another. But as a fan of both these books, Brisson’s story was everything I could have hoped for.
In addition to the “conspiracy” premise working well due to the Turtles still being considered an urban legend in their universe (unlike the very public Ghost Busters), the inevitably contrived premise that brings them all together manages to make sense and have a decent amount of dramatic impact. The mythology of both franchises is respected, referenced, and even slightly expanded.
Michael Walsh’s pencils are great…except for his first scenes with the Turtles. Maybe he was still getting comfortable drawing them, but those panels on the farm in North Hampton are nowhere near the quality of the rest of his work. But aside from that, both Walsh and Brisson should be commended for their work on this one. In big franchise crossovers like this, the best one can usually hope for is for the story to fight and claw its way towards competency while giving the reader a few cool moments to enjoy. This issue does even better by giving us a great story.