IDW Publishing’s “X-Files: Conspiracy” crossover continues in February as “X-Files” fan-favorite characters The Lone Gunmen travel across dimensions (and comic book properties) in their search for a cure to a mysterious contagion. This month’s chapters include “Conspiracy: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” by writer Ed Brisson with artist Michael Walsh, and “Conspiracy: Transformers” by writer Paul Crilley with artist Dheeraj Verma, both of which are one-shots which feed into the greater “Conspiracy” storyline.
Crilley, who also writes the crossover’s main miniseries, and Brisson spoke with CBR about their “Conspiracy” plans, revealing exactly what’s got the Lone Gunmen all worked up, how Mulder and Scully find themselves involved in the mystery, which one of their stories is the unofficial sequel to the “X-Files” episode “Bad Blood” and more.
CBR News: Paul and Ed, how do your respective “X-Files: Conspiracy” one-shots, “Transformers” and “TMNT,” tie into the main event?
Paul Crilley: I have to be careful what I say here. The Transformers are already somehow involved and follow a lead that brings them in contact with the Lone Gunmen. Bumblebee and Langly become best buddies, and this is where we find out some of the backstory to the contagion.
Ed Brisson: In the “TMNT” issue, the Turtles are hiding out in North Hampton after recent events in NY. The Lone Gunmen, however, have managed to track them down because they need something from them — which I’m not going to spoil. The Lone Gunmen aren’t 100% sure what the TMNT are, and this case of mistaken identity leads them down a path that puts them face to face with another local threat.
So for the purposes of “Conspiracy,” do all these franchises exist in the same universe?
Crilley: They are happening in the same universe, and there is an element of dimension hopping happening.
Will Mulder and Scully be appearing in either of your stories?
Brisson: Mulder appears briefly in mine. The Lone Gunmen are dealing with –something — that Mulder has dealt with directly in the past. The Lone Gunmen turn to him for some guidance.
Crilley: Mulder appears in the “Transformers” issue, too. He’s helping the Lone Gunmen with their part of the investigation while following his own leads that tie up in the second bookend.
Paul, you’re also writing the main “X-Files: Conspiracy” series. Did IDW give you the pick of the litter for which properties to use?
Crilley: No, I was given the list of properties to use, then I had to come up with a story featuring them all that made sense. Each of the characters had to earn their place, so there had to be logical reason for each of the properties to be in the crossover.
Do these one-shot issues directly affect the main “Conspiracy” storyline?
Crilley: Each issue progresses the “Conspiracy” storyline onto the resolution. The “Conspiracy” storyline couldn’t exist without the crossover issues. They’re intertwined.
It would be best if all 6 issues were read. But each story is structured to be as standalone as possible while also pushing forward the “Conspiracy” storyline.
How do you balance each individual story against the bigger crossover when writing one-shot issues like this? Which do you think is more important?
Crilley: Each story has to support itself on its own, as well as be part of the overall storyline. I mean, there’s no guarantee a reader will pick up pervious issues, so I think the comic they hold in their hands has to make sense on its own. I reckon the individual story is slightly more important than the crossover plot. Probably a 70/30 ratio.
Brisson: I think both are equally important. You want to tell a story that will engage the reader who might just be checking in for one issue because they’re a fan of the TMNT or the Transformers or Ghostbusters, but you can’t necessarily put the larger narrative in the back seat, either. With my issue, I tried to bring in things that I think would appeal to long-term fans of both, but was still accessible to readers new to either franchise.
Ed, the TMNT are the kind of ‘living among us’ conspiracy that is the X-Files bread and butter, so is your issue structured more like a conspiracy-filled “X-Files” episode or an action-packed “TMNT” episode?
Brisson: It’s both. I really wanted to try something that was a marriage of the two series. It took me quite a while to figure out a way that would work, but in the end, I’m really happy with it. The issue I wrote also serves as a sequel in a way to one of my favorite “X-Files” episodes, “Bad Blood.” Using that as a springboard, everything pretty much fell into place.
Paul, which Transformers will be in your story? How did you decide who to include?
Crilley: Our story features Optimus, Bumblebee and Ratchet. I couldn’t include too many, because it was just the one issue and I didn’t want to crowd the story. As to the why, well, Optimus was a lock, for obvious reasons. And, um — Bumblebee is my son’s favorite Transformer, so I had to include him. And Ratchet, because I kinda liked him in the old cartoons.
What other properties do you think would mix well with “The X-Files?”
Crilley: Doctor Who? Him and Mulder talking about space-time would have been funny. What about Dredd? Mulder and Scully investigating a series of deaths where victims suffer violent burns or sudden rapid decay. Turns out they’re investigating the Dark Judges who hopped through a dimension portal. At the scene of the next murder, Dredd pops out another portal and tries to take over the investigation. Hilarity ensues.
Brisson: Hmmm — I don’t really know. Maybe G.I. Joe? With so much government cover up, it could be interesting to see G.I. Joe in the mix. How they manage the moral dilemma of fighting for the American way, but being complicit in a government conspiracy.
What would the “Transformers” and “TMNT” make of each other if they ever met?
Brisson: That’s a good question. I’m not 100% sure. I guess that they’ve both seen enough weirdness in their lives that at this point, there’s not going to be much that would surprise them. I think that they’d probably take it all in stride.
Crilley: I reckon they’d get on pretty well. Both are outcasts, both try to stay out of the public eye. Reckon they’d sit out in the desert and share a pizza. (At least, the turtles would eat the pizza and Bumblebee would probably watch, jealously.)
Finally, where are you guys going from here?
Crilley: I’m working on a few novels. First up is an African-based urban fantasy featuring Atticus Tau, a guy who used to work for OCRU, (the Occult Crimes Related Unit in the South African Police Service). It’s about African gods and legends, ghost hitmen, talking dogs and angels who snort the souls of unbaptised children for their kicks. It’s called “Sinwalkers.”
Brisson: I’m currently working on “Sheltered” at Image. It’s a story about a group of kids in a doomsday prepper community who believe that the world is about to end and they’re short on supplies, so they do the only logical thing — SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST ISSUE — they kill the adults — END SPOILER. People can check out the first issue for free at comiXology. Issue #6 is out now.
Beyond that, I’m writing a couple issues of “Robocop” for BOOM!, which has been a lot of fun. I’m writing “Sons of Anarchy” for them as well, starting with issue #7. I’ve also got a new Image series launching in April with Simon Roy called “The Field,” which I’m quit excited about.
“X-Files: Conspiracy: Transformers” and “X-Files: Conspiracy: TMNT” are both out February 19 from IDW Publishing.