Ever since Brandon Lee donned goth make-up in the original 1994 movie adaptation of the 1989 comic book series The Crow, fans of both the movie and comic book series have been met with disappointment in the form of multiple sequels and side stories that just have not lived up to expectations. The X-Files: Conspiracy: The Crow #1 is one of those ventures. I think most of us with access to cable programming probably remember watching The X-Files reruns and airings of The Crow on FX and being enticed by the overall formulas of the stories. The X-Files was a show about two FBI agents, Scully and Mulder, who dealt with cases of the supernatural/paranormal/extraterrestrial/etc but never really saw enough evidence to convince them of the existence of such things, effectively playing on the notion that some things are unknowable. The Crow movie and comic book both tell the tale of a couple murdered; the boyfriend is struck and left incapacitated as if his girlfriend is raped and murdered by street thugs. Resurrected by an ethereal crow, a spirit of vengeance, the boyfriend is resurrected and given slight invincibility to enact his revenge on his and his girlfriend’s murderers.
In this story in The X-Files: Conspiracy crossover series (preceded by crossovers with the Ghostbusters, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), there is once again a new herald of vengeance with the urban legend of “The Crow” in the form of Officer Bernard Wright. Yes, herald of vengeance, because as awesome as we know the original Crow is, we also know he’s oddly similar to Ghost Rider minus the flames, skull, chains, and demon master; just apply 80’s punk mask. Now, Officer Wright and his lover, Officer Robin Farmer, are celebrating the recent announcement by Officer Farmer of her impending breakup with her deadbeat husband and departure from their house so that she can go and live with Officer Wright whom she has been having an affair with for an unspecified amount of time. As they are celebrating while on patrol, the main protagonists of the frame story of this series, The Lone Gunmen (a contradictory name in itself and fictional conspiracy theorist group composed of three X-Files characters: Richard “Ringo” Langly, Melvin Frohike and John Fitzgerald Byers), zip past the officers while the Lone Gunmen are being chased by supposed government agents who have tapped them for investigating “Skylogic Systems” and are out to kill them for researching into the “conspiracy.”
“IT’S A CONSPIRACY.”
After the car full of agents cause the officers to crash, killing Officer Farmer to die right after she informs Officer Wright that she is pregnant with her child, one of the agents comes over to their turned over car and shoots Officer Famer in the head. Enter the crow. As in the actual spirit bird. The crow resurrects Officer Wright while his body is being burned in a crematorium and after a very brief introduction into the ins and outs of the crow resurrection of vengeance at the undead officer’s apartment, Officer Wright heads out into the night to find those responsible for the death of his girlfriend and unborn child. At this point the new “Crow” is essentially an invincible, undead Punisher, not particularly innovative.
After a few panels of back and forth meaningless conversation between two cops at a local precinct noticing Officer Wright (but not noticing the gaping hole from his eye socket to the back of his head) in a precinct security camera running the classified license plate number of the agents’ vehicle and banter between the agents and private security contractors they have hired, Officer Wright drops into the fray. He dispatches the mercenaries and discovers his inability to be shot and killed again as bullets pass through him and holes automatically heal. The Lone Gunmen are in a motel room that is infiltrated by the agents and are saved from death by Officer Wright at the last minute; he shoots and kills one and is talked down by Frohike from killing the other, who unexpectedly drops dead anyway. The Lone Gunmen discuss the unfinished business of spirits who wander on Earth and the new Crow’s unfinished business is said to be to save the world.
From Officer Wright’s inexplicably fast acceptance of his newfound afterlife to the rushed middle and ending, this whole story felt sort of contrived. The story of a wondering spirit of vengeance was not given enough time to be flushed out in this series and its connection to the series of files sent from the future and received by the Lone Gunmen about it and other urban legends regarding an impending lethal virus outbreak is left too open and unexplained. The exposition paragraph about the overarching plot of the X-Files: Conspiracy comic book series mentions Scully and Mulder whose chemistry made the long-running show the success that it was (as opposed to the one season of The Lone Gunmen TV show). Ultimately, this comic book story is missing both the legendary flair of undead rocker Eric Draven as The Crow and FBI agents Scully and Mulder and falls short with an otherwise intriguing premise.