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S10#14: The Lowdown

In the penultimate issue of the “Pilgrims” arc, more answers and more questions on the ongoing season 10 mythology! Previous issues lowdowns: #11, #12, #13.

XFiless10-14-cvr-copy-a1365

Congratulations to colorist Jordie Bellaire for her recent Eisner Award! In this issue she tops herself, with the whitewashed flashbacks and the black dialogue boxes for when it’s the Black Oil talking.

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S10#13: The Lowdown

And so it happened: The X-Files 10X13!

The “Pilgrims” arc continues with even more mytharc shenanigans after #11 and #12, and is as confusing as any classic mytharc episode of old!

10X13_scully

More after the jump:

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S10#12: The Lowdown

In “Pilgrims” part 2, Mulder and Scully’s adventures in Saudi Arabia continue from issue #11 while Joe Harris resurrects old foes and plot points, but also now has enough material at his disposal that he starts making plot references from within Season 10.

10X12_mulder

This is also issue #12: Season 10 is now 1 year old! Although story-wise the end of the first “volume” would correspond more to #15, with the end of the current arc, this is a landmark date — and already writer Joe Harris is teasing fans with things on “year 2″!

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XF@IDW: The floodgates have opened!

Since IDW obtained the license for “The X-Files” in January 2013, we knew that we would be getting new comics: Season 10. But we didn’t know we would be getting a whole avalanche of merchandising and tie-in products along with it — although we could have expected to! Below is a rundown of what we know is coming.

The X-Files: Annual 2014

As reported previously, IDW released an Annual comic book in April, a once-a-year publication , double the size of a normal issue. This Annual featured two stories.

XFiless-Annual2014

The X-Files Annual 2014
Frank Spotnitz & Gabe Rotter & Shannon Eric Denton, Dave Sim (w) • Stuart Sayger, Andrew Currie (a) • Sam Shearon (c)
The X-Files writer/producer Frank Spotnitz returns with an untold tale from Mulder and Scully’s first stint with the FBI. When a man returns from the dead with a warning for his wife, the agents investigate and cross paths with a very peculiar priest. And in the second story, Cerebus creator Dave Sim writes his first-ever The X-Files story and first scripted licensed work in… forever? with “Talk to the Hand,” a nightmarish tale starring a sleeping Dana Scully!

Both stories do not form part of Season 10, they take place somewhere during the “classic years” of the series (say, seasons 2-5). As expected, the story by XF’s number 2 Frank Spotnitz and Carter’s assistant (and now The After producer) Gabe Rotter is one that they had in 2009, when the 7-issue XF comics by Wildstorm of 2008-2009 looked like they would be getting more issues. Reviews generally haven’t been very kind to the Annual overall.

Interview with Gabe Rotter on the Annual: X-Files News

Reviews: X-Files News

The X-Files: Conspiracy

As reported previously as well, this is the Lone Gunmen cross-over with other IDW franchises, published over January-March: Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, The Crow! Funky idea, I haven’t gotten down to read them yet.

Interviews with the creators: BigStory | Comicbook Resources

All six issues will be collected in a hardcover edition, coming out in July 2014!

Reviews:

The X-Files: Year Zero

The next big spin-off is Year Zero. No, not the Nine Inch Nails would-be XF crossover: this is actually a prequel à la 5X15: Travelers.

IDW announced in April:

MULDER & SCULLY UNCOVER THE PAST IN THE X-FILES: YEAR ZERO

The Case That Started It All Debuts At IDW! 

San Diego, CA (April 20, 2014) – In its first year at IDW, The X-Files Season 10 has pitted FBI special agents Mulder and Scully against monsters, cults, conspiracies, and more, and now the duo will unravel a mystery that dates back to the very beginning of “the X-Files.” The brand-new five-issue miniseries,The X-Files: Year Zero, debuts this July with an original tale suited for both X-Files diehards and mystery fans alike!

In the 1940s, a shadowy informant known as “Mr. Xero” directed the FBI to a number of paranormal cases that would soon be classified as “X-Files,” which were reserved for the improbable and unexplainable. When faced with an eerily similar “Mr. Zero” in the present, Agent Mulder resolves to uncover the truth about who this mystery person is and their connection to these cases.

The multi-talented veteran Karl Kesel (FFSuperboy) makes his debut at IDW as the writer on the series. Vic Malhotra (The X-Files: Conspiracy: The Crow) andGreg Scott (The X-Files: Season 10) will be splitting art duties with Malhotra providing the art for the 1940s sequences and Scott drawing the present day storyline. Covers will be provided by Season 10’s Carlos Valenzuela, with pulp-novel-inspired subscription variants by Robert Hack (Doctor Who) and a retailer incentive cover by Eisner Award-winner Francesco Francavilla for the first installment.

“The origins of the X-Files unit of the FBI were only hinted at in the TV show, and we’re proud to present the story of how the precursors of our favorite paranormal agents established the division in the late 1940s,” says editor Denton J. Tipton. “I think Bing and Millie will become fan-favorites alongside Mulder, Scully, Reyes and Doggett.”

“I’ve always thought the 40s would be a wonderful setting for X-Files, with the Russian red menace, atomic mutations and flying saucers all lurking in the shadows— what I like to think of as ‘UFO Noir.’” said Kesel from an undisclosed location. “Of course, iconic characters like Mulder and Scully are a joy to write, and being given the opportunity to introduce their predecessors— Bing Ellinson and Millie Ohio— well, the truth is it’s all a little unbelievable to me. But the unbelievable is what X-Files is all about, isn’t it?”

With an upcoming board game from IDW Games, the ongoing Season 10 series, and now this new adventure into the past, IDW is the essential stop for fans of The X-Files! Stay up to date at facebook.com/idwpublishing!

This is an interesting direction for a spin-off story — only that in order for it not to be too painful for old-time fans, it still has to be coherent with what we know of that time period from the series! In 1946 the first X-File was opened by JE Hoover himself (1X18: Shapes), in 1947 with the Roswell crash the US government learnt of the alien colonization threat, and in 1952 FBI Agent Arthur Dales started working on the X-Files (5X15: Travelers).

In an interview with Year Zero writer Karl Kesel, he says on that that: “All that will be addressed. But the whole “filed under X because there was more room there” sounds like one of the lamest cover stories I’ve ever heard. If you ask me.” Also:

The comic will be split between the present day and the 1940s, can you give us any idea of how balanced that split will be?

About 50/50, but that’s over-all. Certain issues may tilt more toward one time or the other.

We’ve seen that Mulder and Scully will naturally be appearing in Year Zero. Is there a possibility that any more familiar faces might make an appearance?

Yes. At least one other established character from The X-Files makes an appearance—a pivotal one, actually. And there are a number of “nods” to other characters and events that readers-in-the-know will enjoy.

Are the present day scenes intended to be set during Joe Harris’ ongoing Season 10, or do they take place during the classic television era of the story?

Season 10.

Early Season 10 cover artist Carlos Valenzuela returns:

XFiles-YZ01-cvr-copy-499d7

And of course they couldn’t miss the opportunity to do some vintage pulp magazine type covers!

XFiles-YZ01-cvrSUB-2a6e9

The series will run over five issues, July-November. Solicitations are already out for #1 and #2:

The X-Files: Year Zero #1 (of 5)
Karl Kesel (w) • Vic Malhotra, Greg Scott (a) • Carlos Valenzuela (c)
When a blue-collar worker from New Jersey passes prophetic messages to the FBI from a mysterious “Mr. Zero,” Mulder is convinced it is the same otherworldly entity that contacted the FBI through a suburban housewife in the 1940s. This similarly named “Mr. Xero” pointed the FBI toward many unusual cases, leading to the establishment of “the X-Files”!

The X-Files: Year Zero #2 (of 5)
Karl Kesel (w) • Vic Malhotra, Greg Scott (a) • Carlos Valenzuela (c)
When a blue-collar worker from New Jersey passes prophetic messages to the FBI from a mysterious “Mr. Zero,” Mulder is convinced it is the same otherworldly entity that contacted the FBI through a suburban housewife in the 1940s. This similarly named “Mr. Xero” pointed the FBI toward many unusual cases, leading to the establishment of “the X-Files”!

Truly, XF has always been very close to a Cold War atmosphere, from its substitution of Soviets by aliens as “the enemy” and the vaccine against the Black Oil as a parallel to the arms race, to specific references to the 1950s nuclear war scare, and episodes like Travelers was already an attempt to capitalize on that. It will be interesting to see how Year Zero is handled.

The X-Files Art Gallery

We continue with this edition, coming out in June:

XFiless-ArtGallery01-cvr-copy-3bc66

The X-Files Art Gallery #1
Cat Staggs, Joe Corroney, Chris Mason, Miran Kim, Mark McHaley, and more (a) • McHaley (c)
This special ad-free issue presents new portraits of all your favorite X-Files agents, aliens, shadowy figures, and friends and enemies, all rendered by the dynamic hands of a wide array of talented artists!
FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Judging from the artists, this might simply be a collected edition of all the excellent art that has been made for all the issues of Season 10 and XF: Conspiracy up until now…or this might be something more. The decision to edit this certainly is original!

The X-Files: Classics

To complete the picture, the old Topps comics are being reprinted by IDW in collected volumes. More on those later.

The X-Files: The board game

The cherry on top of the cake is…the X-Files tabletop board game! IDW, which is not only a publishing company, announced in March:

0318-xfilesgame

IDW GAMES TO RELEASE THE X-FILES BIG BOX BOARD GAME

Search For The Truth On Your Tabletop This July!

San Diego, CA (March 18, 2014) - This summer, fans of The X-Files will have a brand-new way to search for the truth, with the release of a brand-new big box board game! Players will get the chance to take on the role of Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files team as they work to uncover global conspiracies and threats while going up against various members of the Syndicate.

“To me, there’s no more exciting title than The X-Files,” says IDW Director of New Business, Jerry Bennington. “Who wouldn’t want the chance to play as the wise cracking Fox Mulder or the incredibly intelligent Dana Scully? And what show created more classic villains than The X-Files? I still remember the first time I laid eyes on Flukeman, now we’ll give fans the chance to lose sleep all over again!”

The X-Files board game will focus heavily on material from the first three seasons of the television series, giving fans a chance to start from the beginning of the phenomenon. IDW Games has enlisted top-notch designer, Kevin Wilson (Arkham HorrorDescentCivilization) to bring The X-Files to the strategy board game community. Acclaimed gallery and comic book artist, menton3 (Memory Collectors, The X-Files: Season 10) brings his talents to the board gaming world by providing art direction for this project as well as the stunning box art. Designed for a playtime of between sixty and ninety minutes, two to five players will face off against one friend who will control the Smoking Man and his nefarious network.

IDW Games will release The X-Files  game in July with a suggested retail price of $59.99. Get ready to find the truth on your tabletop!

This is the biggest surprise of the lot! Aesthetically, it looks just awesome. This will be a great 21st century complement to the oldie 1996 Trivia Game, that came complete with its VHS tape with clips from the show that you had to play and rewind to find the answers to! Like the old game, the new one is focused on the first three seasons of the show — but this time not because that’s all that had aired, but by choice. I get the feeling that a “Seasons 4-6 Extension Pack” won’t be far off!

More significantly, with this release, it is confirmed that Carter and FOX have given IDW a free hand for all things touching the X-Files brand name, and that IDW has indeed seen the business potential of using that license and is actively tapping in it! This is something that might have significant consequences for the future — from us seeing a new wave of XF paraphernalia like in the 1990s, to sales attracting sufficient buzz for FOX getting interested in doing something more with its franchise.

The X-Files: Season 10

Coming back to the main attraction, there are of course the collected Volumes coming out and a “Director’s Cut” of issue #1, but also Joe Harris offering his scripts for sale, with bonus material.

The current story arc is Pilgrims (#11-15). For spoilers and covers and solicitations for all 5 issues, see the Pilgrims page. This is a pivotal story arc for Season 10, and in interviews Harris seems to consider it as the end of the first year of Season 10 (could it be the mid-point?).

So what comes after Pilgrims? Harris gave an interview to Bloody-Disgusting on the future of Season 10, well worth a read. Some excerpts:

Bloody-Disgusting: The most recent issue focused heavily on the Cigarette Smoking Man to great effect. Do you have plans for some of the other secondary characters?

Joe Harris: I Do. I’d like to spend an issue with John Doggett and Monica Reyes. That’s a huge ambition I have. A spotlight issue on Skinner would be awesome. I think we’re all in agreement on that one. I’m looking at this as we’re doing three kinds of stories. The multiple part myth arc stories, monsters of the month, and characters spotlights. I wouldn’t mind Arthur Dales involved, but he’s almost tertiary. There is a wealth of characters you can explore within this canon. So I think I’m pretty set for the next year.

BD: Because the canon is so big, how do you choose what you actually work with and are there any restrictions?

JH: I don’t have many restrictions. We haven’t kept it a secret that there are two things Chris Carter feels near and dear with the X-Files. One is the “invasion” that was prophesized for 2012. He has plans that he would like to tackle at some point. Two is more with Scully’s son William. Those are things he wants to keep for himself. We wanted to find ways to address these things, because fans want to see what’s happening with these threads. The creator of all this still deserves his day, but we’ll tease you along the way.

BD: What’s your favorite part of contributing to that mythology?

JH: This idea that there is a conspiracy within the government means something a little different in the 21st century. Now its all about who owns the government, who’s wiring profit out of it, who does it really serve and work for? In a post citizens united world where we have corporations who own everything and the NSA operating without restraint. We conduct warfare by remote control. It brings the stuff that is paranoid about the X-Files into this brand new spectrum. The concept updates itself pretty well. I don’t want to be retro. I want to spin the story into something that feels really current.

Mytharc, MOTM, and “guest” characters, it sounds like a good combination that could stretch Season 10′s run for a while. Also,  Harris teased us with another type of episode:

I’ve decided year two of The X-Files: Season 10 will include an… *off-beat* story (that’s being kind). Really excited to pull this off.

Humorous XF on print? Challenging!

Another XF-related interview with Harris is on this podcast.

Finally, some reviews that weren’t linked at before:

And we’ll be back with the Lowdown of #12, being released tomorrow!

S10#11: The Lowdown

This issue kicks off the “Pilgrims” arc (#11-15). The title echoes that of the first arc of the season, “Believers” (#1-5). It looks like IDW and Joe Harris have planned Season 10 to unfold in 5-issue chunks, alternating between 5-issue long mythology arcs, and 5 issues of more stand-alone stories. Entirely taking place in Saudi Arabia, this issue mostly sets up the mystery for what looks like an exotic adventure ride for our agents, filled with old foes.

10X11_m&s

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CarterNews: The After, Area 51

Once more, Carter is busy!

“The After”

A month after Amazon released its pilots in February 6 and hosts of reviews started appearing, rumors began on Chris Carter’s “The After” getting the green light for a full series, but with no official word or comment anywhere. This was only officially confirmed on March 31, with not only “The After” but a total of 6 pilots going to series out of 10. Many people expected that Amazon would choose among the two one-hour pilots, this being the whole point of the online competition, but instead both “The After” and “Bosch” were chosen, which puts into question as to whether viewer feedback was going to be taken into account at all — possibly viewer feedback will be used to steer the show in future episodes. The official synopsis:

“The After”: Follows eight strangers who are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world “that defies explanation.” Written and directed by Carter; executive producer is Marc Rosen of Georgeville Television and Gabe Rotter is producer. Starring Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Adrian Pasdar and Louise Monot.

The After” thus becomes Carter’s fifth series (although he is not mentioned as executive producer above), and his first since 2001′s short-lived “The Lone Gunmen“. Before Amazon ‘airs’ the episodes, “The After” now has to go into pre-production, Carter has to write scripts (alone or gather a team of writers), with full production and shooting (in 4K Ultra HD!) and post-production to follow — so a likely date for us to see the rest of the story is late 2014 or early 2015. We don’t know whether Carter and Amazon conceive this as an event mini-series or a first season in a multi-season story. In an interview with Carter at KCRW, it was hinted that the rest of the show would be four two-hour episodes.

See also on EatTheCorn: XFL/ETC exclusive interview with Carter | The After” released | Details on “The After

“Area 51″

March was a big month for Carter, as his other project of a show was ordered into full development! We had first talked and theorized about it on EatTheCorn, it turns out that it’s different from what I expected! The official synopsis:

“Area 51″: Writer/EP: Chris Carter (The X Files); EP: Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead). Based on the New York Times best-seller Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen. A contemporary conspiracy thriller revealing the true story behind the infamous Area 51, America’s most mysterious military installation.

Carter had mentioned that it would include some discussion on “the spectrum of political discourse as seen on the cable news channels” and would be “treading on some of this interesting ground that Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange have uncovered for us“, so obviously some aspects of it would be about media manipulation of information and the (un)covering of governmental/military secrets of debatable ethics. However the main subject is surprisingly close to what Carter came to be known for with “The X-Files“! Area 51, codename for a part of Edwards Air Force Base in Groom Lake, Nevada, is a huge myth for UFO lore, that’s where the Roswell UFO debris would have been stored and where reverse engineering of alien technology would have taken place; it was covered in XF in 6X04/6X05: Dreamland (and the Ellens Air Force Base, Idaho, in 1X01: Deep Throat was a stand-in for Area 51).

area51jacobsen

What is interesting is that the series would be based on Annie Jacobsen’s non-fiction book, which caused quite a stir when it was released in 2011. Jacobsen presents research on what really happened in Area 51 (and in Roswell), and presents not a story about aliens but a story about military research and Cold War era paranoia — although she has been criticized of sensationalistic writing and for not citing all her sources, the approach and presentation is a journalistic one. A whole commercial website was set up for the book (this kind of attention-seeking is not something very common for non-fiction), and it became a success. The synopsis of the book:

It is the most famous military installation in the world. And it doesn’t exist. Located a mere seventy-five miles outside of Las Vegas in Nevada’s desert, the base has never been acknowledged by the U.S. government-but Area 51 has captivated imaginations for decades.

Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing itself was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now.

Annie Jacobsen had exclusive access to nineteen men who served the base proudly and secretly for decades and are now aged 75-92, and unprecedented access to fifty-five additional military and intelligence personnel, scientists, pilots, and engineers linked to the secret base, thirty-two of whom lived and worked there for extended periods. In Area 51, Jacobsen shows us what has really gone on in the Nevada desert, from testing nuclear weapons to building super-secret, supersonic jets to pursuing the War on Terror.

This is the first book based on interviews with eye witnesses to Area 51 history, which makes it the seminal work on the subject. Filled with formerly classified information that has never been accurately decoded for the public, Area 51 weaves the mysterious activities of the top-secret base into a gripping narrative, showing that facts are often more fantastic than fiction, especially when the distinction is almost impossible to make.

Keeping with the XF vein, Jacobsen’s next book will be “Operation Paperclip“! (see 3X02: Paper Clip)

AMC and veteran producer Gale Ann Hurd considered making a series out of it from as early as November 2011, with a different writer attached at the time! AMC approached Carter in 2013 to have his take on it, and now it’s moving into full production. Again, we do not know whether this will be conceived as a mini-series or a first season — nor whether the series will fully follow Jacobsen’s grounded (but debatable) explanation or whether it will involve actual aliens (à la “Taken” or “Dark Skies“). Even so, there are plenty of things that happened in and around Area 51 that didn’t involve Roswell: military planes development, astronaut trainings, Soviet technology reverse engineering, nuclear bomb tests! Area 51 was really “in” in the 1990s and covered several times, I hope Carter can find a fresh approach for this. It looks like a full season will be produced altogether, without first making a pilot; perhaps this will air as soon as late 2014, but probably it will be early 2015.

All in all, 2014-2015 is shaping to be a very interesting period for Carter!