1. The X-Files: Season 10 (No. 9, Feb 2014, IDW) – Joe Harris, Matthew Dow Smith & Jordie Bellaire
The word of the day is “continuity.” You’ll hear it all the time amongst the sweatys. Continuity, the seamless references to previous back issues and contiguous events, is precisely what makes reading comic books so darn addicting. Case in point, IDW Publishing’s current run of The X-Files comics. If you ate, slept, and dreamt The X-Files during the 90s, IDW’s progression of the Mulder & Scully relationship will certainly scratch that itch. What is admirable is the level of continuity it has with the original series (e.g., Alex Krycek, The Lone Gunmen, FBI Agent John Doggett, FBI Agent Monica Reyes, Scully’s baby, etc). Season 10 just picks up where the last disastrous season left off – including the mediocre second movie. Fans will certainly be heartened to know that the comic series has Chris Carter’s blessings. And most importantly IDW has managed from time to time to do some novel things with the beloved characters. For instance, in Issue 11 Scully and Mulder travel to Saudi Arabia to investigate the return of the alien “black oil” and Scully finds herself having to wear a hijab head covering. Here is an excerpt of the dialogue as Mulder & Scully go through Riyadh’s airport:
SAUDI AUTHORITY: Please remember, alcoholic beverages and all pornographic materials are strictly prohibited inside the kingdom.
MULDER: Well, that could be a tough one once the workday is done –
SCULLY: We’ll get you an iced tea or something, Mulder. . . . And I somehow think you’ll survive a short-term ban on adult entertainment.
MULDER: Doesn’t it strike you as strange, how we drew this duty?
SCULLY: If we’re going to be on the clock, the bureau isn’t going to just let us wait for an X-File to fall from heaven. Not everything is a conspiracy, Mulder. . . . Dammit, if I had a mirror I could straighten this thing [hijab] –
MULDER: Now you sound like me. . . . Don’t look now, Scully, but you’d make a lovely child bride. [MULDER straightens SCULLY’s head scarf]
SCULLY: If you make a knot and I can’t get out of it, I’m going to kill you. . . . You’re wearing it next, Mulder.
2. Star Wars: Rebel Heist (No. 1, Apr 2014, Dark Horse) – Matt Kindt, Marco Castiello & Dan Parsons
It’s official: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill are returning to reprise their roles in Star Wars: Episode VII. Linked to the released cast list is the news that from this point forward Star Wars-related comics will be a part of official continuity (i.e., Star Wars: Episodes I-VI). Prior to this week there was an understanding by fans that what happened in the Star Wars comics really had no bearing on the “real” Star Wars canon. Now all of that has changed. If writer Matt Kindt’s refreshingly street-level, fan-centric perspective of Han Solo is any indication of where the franchise is heading, I’ll certainly try to keep an open mind and give the franchise another shot. Let’s just pretend Episode I-III was one of Chewie’s chili-induced nightmares.
3. All-New Doop (No. 1, June 2014, Marvel) – Peter Milligan, David Lafuente & Laura Allred
X-Men: The Longest Running Mexican Soap Opera. Or, atleast that’s how I perceived X-Men when I started reading comics in the 90s. There was something impenetrable about them. If you hadn’t read the back issues, there was no hope of jumping in the deep end. A classic example of hyper-continuity. Fast-forward more than a decade later and X-Men titles are a joy to read – even with all of the continuity. All-New X-Men and All-New Doop are just two brilliant examples. Chances are you’ve never heard of the latter. Doop, a floating mutant that resembles an oversized green potato or jellybean, lives with the X-Men. And you thought Groot, the walking tree, was weird. In his debut issue we discover that Doop is not just a cute, mute mascot for the X-Men. He actually has longings and sexual desires. Just another great instance of Marvel enhancing already existing big titles by taking a riskier sideways approach.
4. Image Firsts Rat Queens (No. 1, Apr 2014, Image) – Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
Virtually everything Image is putting out right now is pure gold, and Rat Queens is no exception. The HBO series Girls meets Games of Thrones. Buffy meets Xena. Moral message: Fuck D&D continuity. Swords & Sorcery without the anal uptightness.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man (No. 1, June 2014, Marvel) – Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba & Edgar Delgado
Loved, loved, loved the continuity of Mark Webb’s sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man. I know, I know . . . Electro and Rhino were less than impressive – but who cares?! The Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy relationship was pitch perfect. I never thought I’d get teary-eyed watching a Spider-Man movie, but that death scene (no spoilers) got me.