After a meandering and, more often than not, tedious tour through several of IDW’s licensed properties, the Lone Gunmen return to their usual stopping grounds for a perfunctory ending to a mostly disappointing crossover. With no new characters to introduce and work into the narrative, this issue is mostly concerned with wrapping up the overarching plot as the Lone Gunmen deliver the mutant and alien tissue samples they’ve acquired to Agent Scully at the CDC while Mulder tracks down the creators of the virus. It’s quickly revealed that the creators have left a bomb at the CDC as well, to hamper Scully’s efforts to cure their virus, so it’s up to the Lone Gunmen to find and disable the bomb and save humanity.
That makes it all sound more exciting than it really is. Though the “finding the bomb” sequence allows for the Lone Gunmen to show off their personalities more than in any other chapter of the crossover, everything about the plot in this issue is as straightforward and unexciting as in nearly every other chapter of the story. Aside from the DNA that gets delivered to Scully, there’s no payoff to the inclusion of the characters from previous chapters (what, exactly, did the Ghostbusters ever add to this story?). The time travel element that delivered the encrypted files to the Lone Gunmen in the first chapter gets resolved in a coda, and while the effort in tying up this last remaining plot thread is appreciated, the ending is straight-up bizarre. Worse than the dull plot is the artwork. The likenesses remain a little wonky but are effective enough, but the action sequences quickly devolve into nonsense. There’s a few pages in which Mulder engages in a shootout, and the entire sequence is difficult to follow, with characters appearing and disappearing randomly between panels and no real flow to Mulder’s actions.
It is an all too fitting end to a middling crossover series. Whatever potential there was in the “throw a bunch of disparate characters together” premise and the conspiracy plot as introduced in the first issue, it was quickly squandered, as the Lone Gunmen ho-hummed their way through one meeting after another with the other licensed characters. Some disappointing art aside, nothing in this crossover was abjectly bad. But a story like this, built on the appeal of seeing giant alien robots interact with ninja turtles and conspiracy theorists, needs a sense of fun to survive. The X-Files Conspiracy, unfortunately, never even approaches it.
Mulder, during his investigation and subsequent shootout in this issue, seemed much more action hero quippy than usual.
[Spoiler] The coda of this issue reveals that the encrypted files which enabled the Lone Gunmen to devise a cure for the virus and stop its further spread was sent back in time to them by their counterparts in an alternate reality in which the virus spread and decimated the population. When Alt Mulder ponders what will happen to them if their plan works, it’s suggested that their timeline will become redundant. After the files are sent back in time, the issue, and the entire crossover, ends with Frohike dying from what I can only describe as an eruption of spikes from his body. It’s just straight-up bizarre.