Friday, June 21, 2013

What Lurks in the Longbox? #39 - The X-Files: Season 10 #1

The X-Files Season 10 #1
IDW Publishing
$3.99, color, 22 pgs.
Writers: Joe Harris, Chris Carter
Artist: Michael Walsh

The truth is out there, once again.

For the fourth time since the mid-1990's, The X-Files, one of the longest running science fiction television programs, has been adapted into comic book form.  However, this new ongoing series from IDW Publishing takes the property in a different direction than what was done with the prior three adaptations. 

Like the TV series, the Topps comic book alternated between "mythology" tales (stories focusing on the government conspiracy to cover up the truth about alien races and their agenda), and what has been referred to as "monster of the week" stories, which were usually stand-alone episodes about supernatural phenomena, genetic mutations and serial killers with unusual abilities.  The comic was launched during the peak of "X-Files Mania" and generated much excitement, with the first issue quickly escalating in price on the collectors' market.  While this series featured both great writing and art (including Artist Charles Adlard, most known for Image Comics' series The Walking Dead), the creative teams were somewhat limited by how far they could take both the characters and the storylines, since the comic book was running concurrent to the Fox television series.

In 2008, Wildstorm Comics released a six issue mini-series (preceded by a single issue "special") that once again featured the characters up against horrific monsters and conspiratorial forces that sought to prevent them from discovering the "truth."  This series was released shortly after the premiere of the second X-Files movie I Want To Believe, and both the comic and the movie were met with mixed reviews.     

In 2010, Steve Niles and Tom Mandrake brought back the two F.B.I. agents in the X-Files/30 Days of Night mini-series, as Mulder and Scully faced off against the vampires of the popular horror franchise.  This time the series was a collaboration of Wildstorm Comics and IDW Publishing.  While not linked to any specific season, the story appeared to take place early on in the duo's adventures, as evidenced by Scully's continual specticism of Mulder's theories, which all but disappeared in later seasons of the program. 

In this newest iteration, the creative team of Joe Harris and Michael Walsh have taken a similiar route to what Dark Horse did a few years ago with Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight.  This new series launches as the official "Season 10," with canonical stories that take place after the series finale and two movies.  "Believers" begins with showing readers where Mulder and Scully's lives have taken them after the end of their careers as government agents.  There is life after the F.B.I., but it may not necessarily be what readers were expecting.

Dana Scully has returned to her medical career, working at a Virginia medical clinic under the assumed name of Dr. Dana Blake.  While she seeks to distance herself from everything associated with The X-Files, Spotsylvania County is an interesting choice for her relocation (in real life, the county is actually close enough for many commuters that work in Washington, D.C.).  At the same time, Fox Mulder appears happy to be lost in suburbia, at least on the surface.  However, there's no mistaking that infamous "I Want To Believe" poster that spent nine years hanging on the wall of his workplace, and is now taking up residence in his home office.  The first issue also features the return of fan-favorite character Walter Skinner, who has since been promoted to Deputy Director at the F.B.I.

The first issue is compelling, suspenseful, and brings back that great "spooky" feeling that viewers would experience during the earlier seasons.  It even includes the standard "teaser" scene that would usually precede the opening credits of each episode.  Joe Harris delivers a great first issue, diving right into the story and placing all three characters in immediate peril by a sinister threat as yet unrevealed.  His enthusiasm for the series is undeniable, especially given his recent appearance at Heroes Con in North Carolina earlier this month, where he enthusiastically promoted the first issue to fans.  At the same time, Michael Walsh's art style is perfectly suited for this series, with a similiar approach to the way Stefan Petrucha drew the characters in the original Topps series, but still with an unique style all his own. 

With an exciting cliffhanger closing out the premiere issue, this new ongoing series is already off to a great start.  Although a lot happens in the first 22 pages, there are just as many questions as there are answers, which is exactly how The X-Files should be.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


In the first part of my review of Heroes Con 2013, I focused on the fantastic job Shelton Drum and his staff/volunteers did with providing a family friendly environment and plenty of fun activities for the thousands of kids that attended this past weekend.  However, Heroes Con is not called "America's Favorite Comic Convention" just for one reason!  Once again this year, there was a massive and diverse guest list of comic book writers, artists, colorists, publishers and more!

Neal Adams is always a favorite with Heroes Con fans, and it was great to chat with him, as well as get some of my favorite silver/bronze age comics signed!  Neal also had an impressive portfolio of art available for purchase, which kept his booth buzzing with activity throughout the weekend.

Charles Soule, the new writer of Swamp Thing, was a welcome addition to this year's guest list.  With the upcoming Superman/Wonder Woman team-up book arriving later this year, plus his new writing assignment on Red Lanterns, he certainly stands to have a significant impact on DC's "New 52" Universe this year.

Dark Horse and IDW Publishing were also well represented at the convention this year.  Several creators, including Georges Jeanty, the artist for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9, had a very busy booth.  It was also a pleasure to meet Joe Harris, the writer of The X-Files Season 10 ongoing series that is starting this month.  Like Dark Horse's Buffy series, this book will begin where the popular television series left off, after completing its ninth and final season back in 2002.  Joe's only regret at the convention was that the first issue was still a couple weeks away from release at the time of Heroes Con, so he could not sign copies for his fans. 

Besides the large number of modern day creators, there were also many "classic" artists on hand, such as Marcus Hamilton (Dennis the Menace), and the great duck artist Don Rosa.  Rosa always has a wonderful booth display, featuring classic silver age Marvel comics reimagined with Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and other iconic Disney characters.

Tom Heintjes is the editor of Hogan's Alley, also known as the "Magazine of the Cartoon Arts."  It is an unique publication devoted to the cartoon arts and has been in publication since 1994.  Tom had a large array of back issues available for sale, and it was a pleasure meeting him in person.  

Perhaps the greatest thrill of the weekend, however, was meeting the legendary Jim Steranko, who was a last minute addition to the show.  Jim was very gracious with all his fans, and having my wife locate a copy of Spyman #1 (Steranko's first professional work) for him to sign only made this experience even more special! 
The legendary Jim Steranko (Photo by Bob Bailey)

Besides signings and sketches, several guests also appeared in various panels throughout the weekend.  Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction and Jason Aaron took part in a "Marvel Writers" panel, and there were also several publisher panels from DC, Image, Valiant and Dark Horse.  In addition, Heroes Con also featured a variety of interesting subjects for panels, including Hip-Hop and Comics, young adult graphic novels and even a discussion about Kickstarter, the popular funding platform that so many indie comic creators have utilized to bring their dream to fruition.

My third and final part of the Heroes Con 2013 Review will be posted soon.  Stay tuned!

Friday, June 14, 2013


There are some things in life that are so incredible, so perfect, that you may not want to experience them a second time.  The realization hits that repeating the event or activity couldn't possibly exceed your initial experience, and in some ways may actually diminish it.  It could be the best restaurant you've ever dined at, a Broadway show that succeeded beyond all expectations, or meeting your favorite celebrity or movie star.

Would that be the case with Heroes Con?  I think the picture above says it all.

In 2004 our family attended our first Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC.  Without a doubt, it was the best "pure" comic book convention we had ever attended.  And yet, the 2005 show was even better.  2006?  Yep, more guests, more things to see, more vendors.  Fast forward...

It's 2013, and Heroes Con continues to improve upon the prior year's event, like they have always done.  Of course, one of the reasons for this phenomenon is the peerless leadership of Convention Grand Master Shelton Drum, and his incredible team of staff members and volunteers, all of which contribute to making Heroes Con "America's Favorite Comic Convention," as stated on their website.  Unlike many other convention organizers, Shelton looks at each year's convention as an opportunity to make the next year's event even better.  No detail, big or small, is overlooked in making this show so successful each year, whether it's the late guest addition of the legendary Jim Steranko, or making a variety of the coolest and most collectible convention badges ever. 

One of the new additions to this year's show was the "Passport to Fun" scavenger hunt.  All attendees under 12 received a passport book that could be stamped by different vendors throughout the convention floor, including the Heroes booth itself.  Once all pages were stamped, each participant could pick a free book from the Heroes Con Kids Library!  One of the activities to complete in the passport book was the "Quickdraw Contest," in which different age groups had 20 minutes to draw anything they wanted, which was a great way for the kids to show their own artistic talent!

My son was in the back row working on his interpretation of a Green Arrow/Hawkeye crossover.

Another aspect of Heroes Con that makes it so "kid friendly" is the guest list, which always includes publishers, writers and artists that create all-ages comics.  KaBOOM Studios, the all-ages imprint from Boom Studios, had recent issues of many of their popular titles on hand, like Peanuts, Garfield and Adventure Time.  My son was especially thrilled to meet Andy Hirsch, one of the artists from the monthly Garfield comic book.  Papercutz also had a booth at the show, with a huge variety of all-ages graphic novels and comics.  The publisher even featured a special "Kids Day Sale" on Sunday in which customers could buy one book, and get the second one at 50% off!

Andy Hirsch from the "Garfield" comic book series.

While Archie Comics was not "officially" present at the convention, the publisher was still well represented by artists like Ian Flynn, Jim Amash and Dan Parent.  My son brought several recent issues of Sonic the Hedgehog to be signed, and walked away a very happy fan.  He also picked up some trade paperbacks of Mega Man, whom he only recently became familiar with because of the "Worlds Collide" crossover event.

Ian Flynn of Archie Comics signing Sonic and Mega Man!

For myself personally, I was happy to meet Dan Parent, who has drawn some great Archie-related events over the past couple years, including the Archie/Kiss event, the American Idol storyline, and the current Archie/Glee Crossover that has been so much fun to read. 

Dan Parent of Archie Comics.

Stay tuned for the second part of my Heroes Con review, which will feature a small sample of the immense guest list, convention panels, and some of the activities on Indie Island!