Saturday, April 25, 2015

Benjamin's Millennial Compendium - Comics 3

The next review of the IDW comic, Millennium for issue three is another good piece of work from Benjamin Billings. The issue was written by Joe Harris, with art by Colin Lorimer and Joana Lafuente.

This is My Gift.  This is My Curse.

While the first issue of the new Millennium comic series by IDW was marked by deliberately building dread, the second issue exceeded all expectations and delivered a riveting ride full of terror and revelation. Is it possible for the third issue to match out raised expectations? Let’s dive in and find out. As always, spoilers are everywhere.

This book starts with Frank racing through the rain in a graveyard. Last issue left us in a café so this jump is slightly jarring. He finds Catherine Black’s grave, and after seeing her in a vision for a moment, he lies on his back above her resting place and proclaims that there is no place he would rather be. The shot widens and we see several cars and men in suits. Millennium agents?  FBI agents?  We are not told who, and then Jordan Black, his daughter, comes running to him.

If you watched the television series you know that Catherine was his wife. She died of a Marburg-like virus in the end of the second season in the episode, “The Time is Now.” Her death came with terrible irony, because she is yanked from Frank Black just as the two were reconciling after a period of separation. Her death was directly caused by the Millennium Group, who gave Frank one dose of a life-saving cure and forced him to choose between his wife and daughter. In the end, Catherine chooses, and she chooses Jordan and pays with her life for that choice.

After turning the page we find out these events transpire 24 hours in the future. I think this is a mistake in pacing. With the very limited space there is to tell this story, it seems wasteful to snap back and forth in time. I sincerely hope that these issues are collected in a more durable edition in the future but truthfully this transition is only going to confuse the reader more in that format. Especially when the present time shows Frank back in the café we left him last issue. The storytelling is too tight to have to resort to these sorts of story-telling devices to keep me reading. In fact, these tricks only serve to muddy the water.

The café scene is masterful though. Frank is signed in to the computer and his immediate attention is on information about Monte Propps, the killer from the first issue. Quickly though, his attentions turn.  He decides to look for his estranged daughter. The waitress comes by and seeing her picture asks if that is his daughter and mentions that she would love to see her father after so long. Frank begins to threaten her, but she interrupts him and asks if she can freshen his coffee.

It is all taking a toll on him now. Too much has happened and too soon. His nerves are jangled and he does not trust his instincts. He backpedals on the threat and suddenly the waitress announces that he has an invitation just as an email arrives. The message says “HELP ME, DADDY” and as the waitress watches, another message arrives that says, “COME HOME.” The waitress reveals she is indeed more than she seems and says, “Safe travels, Mr. Black.” The next panel is too good to spoil but again, masterfully done and expertly captures the style and mood of the show.

The next scene takes us to Fox Mulder working with a couple of hackers to get into some Millennium “Deep Web” databases.  They are largely unsuccessful and the hackers suggest Mulder might need a body to get in because “access to the database is a highly personalized experience.”. 

This scene holds my second quibble with this issue. The hackers talk about information they found on a black hat message board a few years ago. It is hard to believe that such knowledge would be out there and to the degree that it was, sharing it would likely be a death sentence for that person.  They even know that phrases from science fiction were used as passwords and they attempt a brute force attack to get in. (Two points if you remember Frank Black’s password.)

This scene ends with them checking on Franks’s whereabouts and find he has bought a one-way ticket to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and transitions nicely to find him in the airport. A driver is waiting for him and this opens the second great exchange of the book. 

The driver will not tell Frank where he is taking him, though Frank pushes pretty hard and suddenly he has another vision of Catherine who tells him that “We’re all waiting for you.” Frank yells at the driver to stop the car and then without waiting, dives out of it.

It is dusk and rainy and we are moments away from the scene at the start of the book. An assumed tranquilizer dart hits Frank. He is lying on the ground when we see him call his daughter’s name and see her face.

The next scene opens with Frank waking with a start. Looking out the window he sees the space needle and knows he is still in Seattle. He reaches for the phone and a voice in the blackness tells him he will not need it. A man in a suit is sitting in a chair in the shadows and reveals that Frank has been unconscious for three days. The man introduces himself as a part of the Millennium Group and in a moment of pure comic gold asks Frank if he knows he has the same name as the lead singer of the Pixies. Frank does not appreciate the joke and roars, “Where is my daughter?” Seizing the man by the throat, he demands to know where she is. The man continues to offer his opinions about which Pixies albums were the best. Frank grows exasperated and lets the man go only to grab a sword that is hanging on the wall. The man tells Frank that even though the world did not end, nothing has changed.

Frank tells the man that he “..can’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t send you straight to Hell if you don’t bring me Jordan Black now.” And then a third voice is heard that says, “So let me give you one, then.” It is Jordan herself, grown. She tells him to release the man and when he asks her why, she tells him “This is who we are.”  The final panel shows an ouroboros necklace around her neck. 

There are some amazing things in the closing moments, and the voice of this man who has been pushed past the brink is so clear.  When I read it I could hear it in Lance Henriksen’s voice.  The dialogue is absolutely pitch perfect. The second thing that will haunt you is the look of hurt and betrayal on Frank’s face as he realizes before she says it, that Jordan has joined the group that has killed her mother and his wife.

This issue is very much worth reading. The minor quibbles I have should not discourage anyone from buying and reading it. I am very much looking forward to the next installment and hopeful that this high level of content continues.

Special thanks to XScribe for editorial assistance.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Benjamin's Millennial Compendium - Comics 2

Benjamin Billings next review is in for Issue 2 of IDW’s Millennium comic book. Written by Joe Harris, with art by Colin Lorimer, and the cover by menton3 – already the comic seems to be finding it’s voice, which is great to see.

The Time Is Near
The first issue of the new Millennium comic by IDW was a slow boil. It lulled you in, but the laconic pace is shattered in this next edition. Spoilers will abound.

The second volume of the Millennium Comic picks up right were the first one left off. Monte Propps is dead, murdered, and the scene of his death bears a striking resemblance to those of his victims. When Fox Mulder and Frank Black investigate they determine that Propps did not appear to be pushed under the water so much as dragged. Unable to decipher the symbols at the scene, they hope for a witness that may know more.

As if on command, a boy appears at the doorway.  Mulder chases him with Black hot on his heels. This is the exact moment I loved this book.  Delivering a scare in the comic form is tough, but Harris and his team pull it off when Black stops Mulder saying, “You of all people should understand that whatever’s running away from you is also leading you somewhere.” My skin crawled. And I had no idea that it was about to get exponentially better.

Following the boy, they find a dead woman. While Mulder calls it in to the FBI (the local police by now are on the scene), Black finds a moment to talk to the boy. When the boy says, “I made you an offer once.  That offer still stands.” I could not have been more pleased. Black immediately knows who he is talking to and immediately my mind is drawn back to season one of the show with episodes like “The Judge” and “Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions.”  As a fan, this sort of tie-in reassured me at once that the creative team on this book knows their source material. Drawing from such powerful episodes and tying this book into the main story arc of the first and second season was a huge treat for this fan.

The dialogue with the child is spot on. Full of layer and nuance. He tries to draw similarities between himself and Black and then delivers the third revelation of this book (keep in mind we are only seven pages in), that the Millennium Group is behind Propps death. Given who supplied the information it is suspect, but Black seems to believe the boy.

By now, Black has had enough and grabs the boy.  A policeman intercedes quickly.  As Black releases the boy the boy whispers, “I know where she is, Frank.  Your daughter, I mean.  Let me help you.”  By the next panel, Black is nowhere to be found and the boy is still there so we assume that Black has yet again turned this entity’s offer down.

When we next see Black he is in a cab headed to a home he is unfamiliar with.  He is thinking of the closing scene in The X-Files episode, “Millennium,” where he and Jordan are running down the corridor.  Verifying the address, he leaves the cab and finds a way into the house. He reveals that he was sent here, admitting that he has actually accepted the boy’s help. Immediately I wondered what this will ultimately cost him because help like he received would not have come for free.

Black searches the house which apparently belongs to an FBI agent. He finds a laptop and boots it up. The screen loads with the ouroboros of the Millennium Group. Black has scant seconds to react to this revelation before someone enters the home. The newcomer calls out to Black, realizing there is an intruder in his home and draws a pistol. Among the things he says is, “If it is free now, it’s all but over.”

The actors are set in motion and when they collide they do so ferociously. Black manages to disarm the man but in return suffers a jarring kick to the bag. Black scrambles to get the firearm and points it at the man. The man grabs the weapon and smashes Black in the face with it. Responding to Black’s questions the man calls him by name saying, “I think you know the answers to your own questions, Frank.” He then places his thumb over Blacks finger which is over the trigger. Pulling the gun to his chest he says, “This is who we are” before forcing Black to pull the trigger.

In lesser hands I would wonder what is being shown in the next two panels featuring Black. Because Harris and his team know the source material so well, I can make a safe guess what it is. Black sits on the floor beside the dead man and replays in his head killing the Polaroid Man. Again, actors outside his control threaten his family. Again despite his gift, he is left trying to keep ahead of it all and wishing desperately that this does not end like it did with his wife. He came to the house to find information about Jordan, after all.

This part of the story ends with Mulder asking Scully to cover for him as this is going to take some more time to wrap up. Black is gone and he has taken the laptop with him.  The final scene shows him at a coffee shop.  He attempts to log in to the computer using his old password, “Soylent Green is People” and to his surprise the laptop opens and says, “It has been 5527 days since the new millennium.”  Closing here almost seems cruel, but it is sure way to make sure we are chomping at the bit for the next issue.

Through the book the art and dialogue are very tight.  Coloring is wonderful and atmospheric.  It is hard to find anything to fault this book for. The worst thing I can say is that it is too short.

Reservations that the first book was merely an X-Files book with Frank Black in a supporting role were proven to be undeserved. This is full on Millennium, the fun, the claustrophobia, and the building dread.  Truthfully this is better than we as fans have been hoping for.  I consider this book a must-have for any fan of Millennium.  It is actually better than some of the show’s televised episodes and I cannot wait to see what the next issue holds in store for us.

Special Thanks to XScribe for editorial assistance.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thanks Gabe, Vince, and Chris L.

Matt holding the trusted recording device he’s used on interviews for many years.

When we conducted our interview with Vince Gilligan, I came to realize I was remiss in thanking one other person, Chris Carter’s right hand man, Gabe Rotter, for connecting me to Vince’s assistant in late 2014. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. Once again, I want to thank Chris Longo from Den for being such a huge help last month.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Undiscovered Country

I’ve been mulling over the passing of actor Leonard Nimoy over the past couple of days, and while his death wasn’t quite a shock, as he was 83 and had not looked well for quite a while, his death does represent, like Robin Williams’, another seismic shift, and foretells us to expect another wave of icons passing from the 60s and 70s era. I’m not looking forward to it. But all icons are mortal after all and this should cause us to re-examine how to make our lives fuller. His final Tweet couldn’t have been more poetic:

“A life is like a garden, perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Live Long and Prosper."

Mr. Spock made him, and he made Mr. Spock. Other actors have played Vulcans since The Next Generation debuted, but there’s something that feels generic with other portrayals when you compare Nimoy’s skill at playing the role. There was that evident gravitas of course, but it was Nimoy’s humanity and sensitivity that made Spock so special and something that people could identify with. Spock was an outsider to a degree within his own people, half-human, half-Vulcan, he lived in a world that frowned on emotions – but I want to make this clear: Vulcan’s didn’t eliminate emotions, they conditioned themselves to suppress them. The common lore is that in fact Vulcans can have, in fact, extreme emotions, but have suppressed them for the sake of seeking logic. For most of us morals, that’s easier said than done. Spock’s real triumph was to assimilate his emotions along with his reason. But it was Nimoy’s understanding of the character that helped us to see that arc in time.

But Nimoy held a depth as a person and an actor that could only be understood when you have seen his range. It's uncanny.

Born on March 26, 1931 to Max and Dora Nimoy, Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Iziaslav, Russia (which is now known as the Ukraine), he lived in the west end of Boston, Massachusetts. He began his acting interests as a child; his first major role came at 17 in an amateur production of Clifford Odet’s Awake and Sing. He took drama classes at Boston College in 1953, but didn’t complete them. He then served as a sergeant in the US Army from 1953 through 1955. His first title film role was Kid Monk Baroni, in 1952, about a street punk turned professional boxer. He appeared in the film Them! , and The Brain Eaters in late 1958, along with Zombies of the Stratosphere in 1952. He appeared in The Twilight Zone episode “A Quality of Mercy” in 1961. He was cast as Luke Reid in 1959s ABC series Colt 45, then appeared in a series of television Westerns, Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Rebel, Rawhide, and co-starred with DeForest Kelley on The Virginian in a 1963 episode.  He also appeared in crime dramas such as The Untouchables and Perry Mason. Leonard Nimoy first worked with William Shatner in a 1964 episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Nimoy chose to work on the Star Trek pilot over the soap opera Peyton Place. Most of Spock’s most iconic traits came from Leonard Nimoy; the Vulcan hand sign came from childhood memories of the way Jewish Priests (Kohanim) would hold their hands during blessings.  The Vulcan mind meld and Vulcan neck pinch were Nimoy inventions that helped the writers get out of plot point problems in various episodes, and those Jewish blessings also lead to the phrase “Live Long and Prosper.”

Following the end of Star Trek in 1969, he appeared in Mission: Impossible as a replacement for Martin Landau, playing the character of Paris. He appeared with Yul Brynner and Richard Crenna in the Western feature Catlow in 1971. He hosted the series In Search of… starting in 1977, a documentary series about the unexplained and paranormal that impacted countless fans of my age range during its run. He appeared in 1978 as a major character in Philip Kaufman’s unsettling Invasion of The Body Snatchers as a psychiatrist. He was awarded an Emmy nomination for A Woman Called Golda in 1982. Of course, he also appeared in the Star Trek animated series from 1973-1974.

But Leonard Nimoy also reached acclaim for a series of theatrical appearances, essaying the title role of Vincent in 1981. The range of the productions he had been involved with include Fiddler On The Roof, The Man in The Glass Booth, Oliver!, Full Circle, Camelot, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The King and I, Caligula, Twelfth Night, Sherlock Holmes, Equus, and My Fair Lady. But his range also included photography and academia; he studied photography at the University of California, Los Angeles in the 1970s, got an MA in education from Antioch College, an honorary degree from Antioch University in Ohio, and honorary doctorate of humane letters from Boston University. His work in photography has been exhibited at the R. Michelson galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. But lastly, one cannot forget his role as a director. He made his directing debut on a Night Gallery episode from the final season, “Death on a Barge.” After directing an episode of T.J. Hooker, Nimoy, of course, helmed Star Trek III and IV, and followed that with the massive comedy hit Three Men and a Baby, and The Good Mother. We even would have to consider his musical abilities as well; a group of pop / rock, folk albums for Dot records, which some have regarded as high camp, while others considered them legitimate efforts.

Like Sean Connery’s inimitable James Bond, Leonard Nimoy tried to work against being typecast in the role of Spock. His efforts to branch out as a legitimate artist led to periods of ambivalence about the role, which eventually led to a kind of existential crisis in the 70s about the impact of the character on the actor. This struggle was first broached in his autobiography written in 1975, I Am Not Spock. By the time his second autobiography was penned in 1995, I Am Spock, some of this ambivalence had been resolved.

Some of this ambivalence was reflected in Spock’s reemergence in the 1979 feature Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Spock has been away from Starfleet for years, and only reappears out of necessity and due to a psychic connection to the V’Ger entity, sensing a living machine that operates on pure logic. But while mirroring Spock, this entity is seeking the big questions: Is there more to existence; why are we here. By the end of the film Spock is taking first steps towards fully integrating his emotions with his logical nature. This arc would continue with the rest of the original cast features. The Spock in Star Trek II seems a little older and wiser. After dying and being revived from the genesis wave, Spock develops greater insight about himself and his friends, and this maturity reaches a conclusion in Star Trek VI, where he has learned to channel his emotions to where it’s appropriate, the betrayal by Valeris to the crew and Starfleet.

I admired Spock for his ability to integrate his emotions with his ability to examine every possible situation from multiple perspectives to arrive at the best decision. Some tend to get it wrong; this aspiration isn’t to live life like some robot, but to be able step away from an issue and look at it objectively. Indeed, Spock cared very deeply for his friends, even if he didn’t show it. He also maintained a very strong ethic toward doing the right thing, for justice, and for protecting the defenseless, even when it meant that someone would have to die. When I first heard of Leonard Nimoy’s passing, Spock’s eulogy from Star Trek II came to mind:

"We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted, in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

This has taken on a new meaning for myself, the inkling of an idea. With the passing on of an important figure, that such death can leave open the path for the birth of the next generation, the birth of new ideas, the cyclical nature of our mortality, and the hope that another figure with the same depth will arise, but it is incumbent for each of us to rise to that occasion, or to cultivate and nurture a child who might be able live up to the promise.  But it is a cyclical process, and a slow going one, for evolution often is a slow going process. In Star Trek VI Spock tells the new Vulcan cadet, Lt. Valeris, “You must have faith that the universe will unfold as it should.”

While I mourn his passing, I have to be philosophical about this. As Kirk was heard musing in Star Trek II: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” From Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Leonard Nimoy lived a life that was indeed prosperous, and he lived a full one. His example will be one that others will follow for generations. He is on to a better rest.

Death is the Undiscovered Country; there’s no reason to fear it if you’ve lived a full life.

Special thanks to XScribe for editorial assistance.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Benjamin's Millennial Compendium - Comics 1

I’d like to introduce Benjamin Billings, a long time Millennium fan, who will be writing up-to-date reviews about the new IDW comic, Millennium, written by Joe Harris, and art by Colin Lorimer, and Lafuente (Menton3). Benjamin has already done some great work with his first effort; and we hope you enjoy this.

Wait… Worry…

On the 25th of Oct. of 1996 Chris Carter introduced us to world of Millennium and its leading character, Frank Black. Millennium ended suddenly on the 21st of May 1999, with a controversial wrap-up episode in season 7 of The X-Files called Millennium, airing on the 28th of Nov. 1999. Despite a very active online community, several fan-written virtual seasons, and the book, Back to Frank Black, there has been no official sighting of Frank Black or the shadowy Millennium Group for almost 15 years. That is, until now.

On October 22, 2014, Frank Black appeared in IDW’s The X-Files Season 10 #17 and on Jan 21st IDW released the first in a 5-part mini-series starring Frank Black, called Millennium. Was it worth the wait and does it deserve your support? Let’s check it out. Spoilers will abound. Let’s start with the X-Files appearance first. It should be noted that this is a 2-part story that started in issue 16, though 16 does not have Frank Black in it. Black’s return in this series is altogether satisfying. He is older, though it is apparent that Black’s “vision” is still very active (he has the gift and curse of being able to see what the killer sees and horrifyingly often more disturbing things).

Black warns Agent Mulder away from the current course of his investigation, and reveals that he is no longer affiliated with the Millennium group. He never tells anyone why he is there, or except in the most cryptic way, why Mulder should back down. Mulder does not or cannot alter the course of the investigation and Black’s tragic vision becomes reality.

More subtly at one point in her investigation Agent Scully finds a mysterious bag with the ouroboros on it. The Millennium group’s involvement with her investigation is as mysterious as Black’s involvement with Mulder. Ultimately there is little resolution, though fans of Millennium season 2 will like the religious themes of the issue and especially the ending.

The first book of the Millennium series starts on Christmas Eve of the turn of the century with several members of the Millennium group involved in some sort of sabotage in a large office building.  What they are doing and the results are not revealed.  Interestingly, the dialogue between the two men, while focused on the coming apocalypse and Y2k , also hint at some class envy.  This stood out because the members of the Millennium Group were so focused on their cause that such rumblings were never heard on the show.

After the opening sequence the main story begins and brings us to the present day. It focuses around a killer named Monte Propps who is being considered for early release from prison. This is the same man referenced in The X-Files pilot. Mulder testifies against Propps and on leaving the court house sees Frank Black had signed out earlier.

Mulder tracks Black down and finds him in a squalid motel room surrounded by newspaper clippings. Black is revealed to be estranged from his daughter, Jordan Black, and is very alone in the world. While he says that the Millennium Group is dead, he still seems to be running from something. Having had several breakdowns on and off screen in the series, this depiction of Black is a very likely scenario.  Mulder presses Black on the Millennium Group and Propps. Black imparts no information but answers cryptically about good and evil in the world.

Frustratingly, the great build-up from the X-Files episode is seemingly wasted, and in fact the men do not even acknowledge what has happened. A story as horrific and powerful as what unfolds in the X-Files book would be a hard thing to overlook, and because the wrap up is far from complete in that issue, whichever man has more knowledge of what happened there (and it could easily be presented as either of them) would surely have been asked for more information from the other one.

Now, I am not going to spoil the ending, but I promise you will not expect it, and I know I am eager to read the next installment.

There were many things done well. The dialogue is great.  They capture Mulder’s sense of humor while keeping the tone as dark as the Millennium TV series. Setting the story so far in the future works. It lets the virtual seasons exist (or not) and provides a contemporary story that has the potential to be as compelling as the TV series was. The writing is tight and the art captures the mood well.

Fans of the show often comment that each season seemed very different from the others. Season 1 is a fairly straight police procedural, while season 2 focused on the religious themes of the coming millennium.  Season 3 shed the religiosity but tried to walk a line between the police procedural and the paranormal.  Season 3 was the most like X-Files and this comic moves in that same direction, though somewhat surprisingly The X-Files book feels much more like season 2 Millennium.

The worst part of the Millennium book is that it seems more like an X-Files story than a Millennium story.  It features an antagonist from the X-Files and Mulder clearly is the star of the show.  It is easy to recommend this to any fan of The X-Files.  Seeing Black again, and seeing him portrayed so well is worth the time for any fan of Millennium.

Special thanks to XScribe for editorial assistance.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Chris's Comic Corner 2

We are pleased to present another group of comic reviews of the IDW Season 10 series, reviewed by Christopher Irish.

Issue #4

This issue starts with Mulder racing through the wilderness of Wyoming on an ATV. He’s on the phone with the Lone Gunmen and there are two helicopters closing in behind him. He zeros in on Scully who is running from the group of Acolytes. Mulder quickly finds Scully in the woods, but Scully raises her weapon and fires. What happened?

After the title panel, we start back two hours from the events in the intro. Scully is helping the Acolyte through the woods and comes upon a road and small grocery store. She leaves the Acolyte against a tree and heads to the store to call for help. The artists have a nice panel with the Acolyte staring intently after Scully as she heads across the street that is particularly creepy.Once inside the store she sees a (really) little old lady behind the counter. Scully asks to use her phone and the lady hands her a receiver with the wire cut off. This was a nice touch of humor that we get from The X-Files, just like in the TV series. A park ranger pulls up outside the store and we see the Acolyte fixate on him. The Ranger enters the store and we see Scully leave with him asking for a ride to the nearest town so she can call into the F.B.I. regarding what happened.

We then catch up with Mulder who is at the pipeline where a cleanup crew in hazmat suits are working on the area where Scully sprayed the Acolytes earlier. Mulder is talking to the Lone Gunmen about the current situation. It is worth noting that their graveyard underground bunker is a lot cleaner and more advanced than the one they had in the show. The Lone Gunmen have moved up in the world by going under, it seems. Also, Langly seems to have a fixation with wearable headgear technology. Almost every time we see him he has some new device on his head. It gives him a sort of Doc Brown from Back to the Future vibe.

While they are talking, Mulder is watching the cleanup crew work. It is a bit odd that they don’t tell him to get lost since they are all fully suited up and Mulder just arrives out of nowhere. It doesn’t last long however; Mulder connects the dots about this mystery crew that The Lone Gunmen can’t tell where they came from, as the F.B.I. didn’t dispatch them and the magnetite sprayed all over the ground. Mulder has a hunch that the magnetite isn’t actually being transported and tells Byers. He spots a couple of helicopters heading his way so he jumps on a nearby ATV and takes off into the woods.
During this time, Scully is riding along with the Ranger who is going on a sort of tour guide tangent. This raises Scully’s suspicion and it is validated when a radio goes off in the backseat and Scully spots the real Ranger unconscious or dead in the backseat. She grabs his revolver and turns to see Mulder sitting next to her. She doesn’t buy this trick and the Acolyte changes appearance over three panels before returning to the familiar brown-hooded, glowing-eyed form we’re used to. He tells Scully that “The truth belongs to whomever shines the brightest light.” This sounds pretty cultish, and adds on to the already alarming powers the Acolytes possess. This deepens the mystery as this particular Acolyte has seemingly been helping Scully this whole time. He has obviously been using Scully to get to William by other means than the rest of them. Scully starts to waver and her nose bleeds a bit, but she pulls herself together long enough to raise the gun and fire. The truck then goes out of control, flies off the road, and lands on its side. After getting thrown around in the wreck, Scully looks to the driver seat to find the Acolyte gone.

Meanwhile, The Lone Gunmen use an NSA spy satellite to tell Mulder where heat signatures are that could be Scully and someone else. Mulder flies on the ATV with the helicopters in pursuit. He conveys his theory that the Acolytes are an Ascendant Alien Hybrid of some sort and the magnetite in the pipeline is there to keep aliens contained in the park. If we have learned anything from watching Mulder all these years, it’s that his hunches are usually spot on or at least close. He hangs up after divulging that information and shouts a familiar “Scully! Hang on!” and reaches the forest. Mulder dismounts the ATV and runs into the woods yelling for Scully. Scully is in the woods as well, but the Acolytes are nearby also mimicking Mulder’s voice calling her. They meet in a small clearing, but Scully isn’t sure if it’s really him or an Acolyte. She begs him to leave but when he doesn’t she raises her gun and fires. Right after that, Mulder appears behind her and Scully is relieved. They embrace, but as Mulder speaks, she realizes that it’s not the real one again. “Mulder” then changes back to the Acolyte and disappears in a blur back into the forest. Scully is then left with the real Mulder lying on the ground where she shot him.
This issue was pretty intense! The action and paranoia have set in and it left us with a cliffhanger. The span of the five-part story is drawing to a close with the next issue and so far we’ve seen the possible end to three agents and now Mulder lies wounded by Scully’s hand. The new Acolytes in the X-Files story arc have proven themselves to be as dangerous as any of the run-ins Scully and Mulder have had with Bounty Hunters or Hybrids in the past!

Issue #5

We find Scully administering CPR to Mulder who has a chest wound from where she shot him. As she is doing this, the Acolytes appear behind her in the shadows with their blue glowing eyes. There is a great commotion as they blur past her, speaking in the strange dialect once more. The comic translates this to “The bringer has come but the cradle is bare” and “The new day is come, another is lost.” Scully has no idea what they are saying of course so this just makes her more confused. They start speaking in English about “Deacon” bringing her but favor is not yet given. This must be the name of the Acolyte that aided her along the way. She tries to make sense of this, but it’s no use. She tells them that she won’t help them find William, but they disappear as fast as they arrived. Right after they leave, Mulder speaks to Scully. In classic Mulder style, he commends her for being “a hell of a shot” and Scully finds that the Acolytes have healed his gunshot wound and saved his life.
Scully figures that they want to show them something so they have to follow them. This heightens the confusion and mystery seeing as the group of Acolytes has been trying to abduct Scully this whole time. This makes sense in an X-File sort of way, though. It’s not often that the intentions of a character or group of characters are immediately clear in the show.
Now past the title panel, we see Mulder and Scully leaving the forest and heading into the Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. Mulder is skeptical of Scully’s hunch that they want to show them something, given the trouble they’ve gone through and tries to make her turn back with him to avoid any possible danger. As they’re discussing whether to leave or go forward, the ground shakes under them and a geyser bursts. Mulder is thrown to the ground, but Scully is up and running through the steam calling to “Agent Mulder” to follow her. He catches this and tells her it’s cute that she hasn’t called him that in a long time until he notices Scully tied to a tree and another Scully standing on the edge of a cliff. Mulder figures out what is going on and gets the Alien Stiletto out to dispatch the Acolyte. As Mulder goes to stab him, the Acolyte reveals his normal form and uses his power to lift Mulder by the throat in a paranormal Darth Vader move. Mulder drops the stiletto as the Acolyte tells Mulder that there are bigger forces at work and only he has the truth that Mulder seeks. The Acolyte’s intention to find William for purposes unknown is also confirmed, but the helicopters reappear before he can fully explain himself. The Acolyte says they can’t be contained and they have reached the cradle, which is not empty, but as he turns to address Scully, she flies behind him after escaping the ropes and buries the Alien Stiletto into the Acolyte’s neck, putting a stop to his plans with her and William for good. The Acolyte dissolves into the green acid-like goop much the same as the Alien Bounty Hunters do.
Mulder is lying unconscious on the ground as Scully runs to help him. As she is doing that, a giant rumble hits the area and a large group of Acolytes appears behind her. They are all pointing to the sky, speaking in the strange words again, saying “The bringer has come” and “The favor is given.” Scully is confused at first, but looks to where they are pointing and sees a gigantic UFO that broke free from where it was hidden underground. This is reminiscent of the scene in “Fight the Future,” but in reverse with Mulder unconscious and Scully bearing sole witness. It is a pretty cool looking full page illustration! The artists really have done a good job.

A giant blast of wind hits the ground along with a “HOMMMMM” sound as the Acolytes around Scully speak in their language and burst into flame. Shockwaves hit the two helicopters still hovering nearby and they get knocked to the ground leaving Scully as the only person there to see these events. A bright flash of light and it’s gone, just as Mulder regains consciousness. He asks her what she’s looking at but she says she isn’t sure.

A week later, we find Scully in another familiar area, sitting in front of a panel at the F.B.I. Headquarters in Washington DC. Mulder and Scully are still former agents, but Scully filed a report seeing as they were tangled in the investigation. We find out that Reyes, Doggett, and Hendricks are still considered missing and unaccounted for and that Scully’s report of the hooded Acolytes matches up with D.D. Skinner’s account of his run-in with the group.

Scully admits to seeing incredible things in Yellowstone, but her memory of the events is clouded. She does know that the Acolytes targeted both her and Mulder and went after Skinner as well as the other three agents. Scully gives them a stern warning that the X-Files is at the center of these events and tells them there is only one way she knows to help figure out what is going on. The last panel has an F.B.I. badge near Scully’s hand.
We end up back at Mulder and Scully’s (or the Blakes’) house in Virginia. Scully still can’t remember what she saw, but it seems like they are going to go forward with reinstatement in the F.B.I. Mulder brings her a hot drink with “grown-up stuff” in it on the porch where she is gazing at the night sky. Scully then goes back in the house leaving Mulder alone at the porch table looking at the F.B.I. badges. He says again, “It is kinda cute when you call me ‘Agent Mulder.’” The scene pulls back to the dark back yard and ends with the night sky.

The story ends up in New York City with Smoking Man in a dark conference room smoking. He says, “We’ve lost Yellowstone” and something about it getting harder to find a spot without tourists and development. He seems to respond to someone in the next panel. He is in the shadows, so half his face is in the dark and we see a very creepy light where his eye in the shadow is. A voice at the end of the table, fully in the shadows speaks, asking him who he is talking to and Smoking Man stands up and says, “Every man believes he has his own good reason” almost like his voice changed. The person in the dark tells Smoking Man to tell him and that they have all the time in the world.
Now that Mulder and Scully’s intentions are to rejoin the F.B.I. and get back into the X-Files, they will have a lot more resources to pull from to find out what is going on. How the F.B.I. will react to their investigations remains to be seen. We know from the show that a lot of F.B.I. leadership was employed by The Syndicate either forcibly or willingly. Even people that aided Mulder and Scully had issues like Skinner. No one could be fully trusted then and now that a new conspiracy is starting to emerge, no one can be trusted now.

Overall, I enjoyed the comics a lot! Writers Joe Harris and Chris Carter have done an excellent job catching my interest as a fan. The storyline presented here was a great blend of old and new and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. The artists have also done an excellent job with the comics. The artwork does a good job conveying action and the characters are consistent in their likeness. Between the story and art, this should be a series that X-Files fans should pay attention to and keep up with! Any doubts as to how it would fit into the mythology of the series can be put to rest since Chris Carter is part of it. The main characters’ dialogue stays consistent with how they speak in the show, also. The only thing I missed was seeing Mulder compulsively chewing on sunflower seeds, but since he spent most of his time frantically chasing after Scully, I can forgive that.

The next storyline (or episode) will be “Hosts.” I can tell you, from the cover of the first of that series, it will be good. One of the more scary monsters from my youth comes back in The X-Files!

Issue #6

Hosts Part 1

The next episode holds a special place in my heart. Deep down in the dark recesses of childhood fears given to me by watching The X-Files as a young child on weekends as they first aired on Fox. I vividly remember the episode “The Host,” mostly due to the part where the Flukeman slid into a porta-potty to hide and wait for unsuspecting victims. This gave me an irrational fear of porta-potties that has extended into my adulthood. The whole episode was disturbing. Having some pale, bloated, humanoid thing sink its circular teeth into my back and injecting a Fluke-larva into my system really stuck with me. Rather than putting me off The X-Files, however, this only made me love the show even more. So, when I picked this issue up and saw the Flukeman standing over a couple children on the beach, I got excited.

This issue begins with a teenage boy in Martha’s Vineyard running onto a dock with a girl’s bikini top in his hand, the girl missing the article close behind. Mulder would appreciate this scene I’m sure. The girl named Tara catches up to the boy named Corey and ups the ante by dropping her bikini bottom and challenging him to catch her. She runs to the end of the dock and dives in. Corey acts apprehensive, partly because the Sheriff has obviously enacted some sort of curfew for swimming, and partly because swimming was never Corey’s intention. While Corey tries to convince Tara to get out of the water so he can accomplish his original goal, Tara gets sucked under. She resurfaces in a struggle and Corey attempts to pull her back, only to see her get pulled under again along with a glimpse of Flukeman’s pale, fanged face.

We then join Mulder and Scully back in their old stomping grounds at the FBI Headquarters. Mulder’s office has been untouched apart from having his furniture covered up by sheets. They reminisce of the past, a ghost image of Mulder uttering the famous phrase “Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.” Mulder breaks out his famous “I Want To Believe” poster (with an added ‘Still’ written before Want). The next scene has Mulder and Scully being reintroduced to FBI management by Skinner at a meeting. They then meet Assistant Director Anna Morales. She explains her interest in The X-Files and how she’s concerned with getting more of the older cases closed. Mulder gently explains the difficulty to “close” X-Files due to their paranormal nature, but Morales goes on to explain how politics in DC are fueling her need to “get points on the board,” according to her. Morales then hands Scully a file with pictures of a body with a strange and familiar bite mark on their back. A.D. Morales tells Scully she is to go to Quantico to review the body. Meanwhile, Mulder is on the hook to get ready to head to Martha’s Vineyard to try and nip the case in the bud before an old X-File gets reopened.
Upon reaching his destination via airplane, Mulder is greeted by Sheriff Michael Simmons. The sheriff is unsure why the FBI has sent an agent in over a drowning, so this tells me that he hasn’t been in the loop. They go to the Sheriff’s office where we find out that the girl, Tara’s, body is missing and the boy, Corey, has been killed as well. Mulder also comments that Sheriff Simmons has a distinct accent, which the sheriff explains is Ukrainian. Mulder explains the concern with Corey’s bite being indicative of a transfer of a fluke from the larger organism. He’s met with resistance from the sheriff and is told that the boy drowned and no fluke larvae were found.

Mulder calls Scully to let her know what the outcome of his meeting was. No parasites found in a similar bite as the Flukeman seems to have confused our heroes, but Scully has a theory on why it might not inject a parasite in every victim. Mulder also explains that it’s possible the sheriff doesn’t want the summer tourist season to be compromised due to a monster scare. While Mulder goes off to see the sights (according to him), Scully goes to work on the bottom half of the original Flukeman that Mulder chopped in half in the sewer years ago. We rejoin Mulder and find out that his “sightseeing” includes the local sewer.
Back to Scully, she’s looking at cells from the Flukeman’s bottom half pulled from cold storage and she witnesses cellular division in the microscope. Just as she notices this, the bottom half falls to the floor and starts to regrow the top half. Scully calls Mulder as she reaches for a jar of acid on the counter. She reaches Mulder miraculously since he’s deep in a sewer, and he’s just come across the decaying bodies in the sewer. The bodies have been bound at the wrist to pipes and have obvious exit wounds from possible fluke-larvae. Their cell connection gets lost just as a hand grabs Mulder’s shoulder. It turns out to be a live victim! Scully managed to douse the Flukeman she was dealing with in acid which eats it up. Mulder is not so lucky, as she tells him how fast they regenerate, he finds himself surrounded by full grown Flukemen in the sewer room.

Issue #7

Hosts Part 2

Part two opens in a flashback of Pripyat, Ukraine in 1986. Some Russian soldiers are being unloaded from trucks. One unit gets sent to close a valve in a sewer line to contain any further contamination from the Chernobyl plant meltdown. We follow one unfortunate soldier who is sent down by Mikhail who is waiting at the sewer opening. When the soldier named Gregory reaches the wheel to close the valve, he sees that it is covered in small fluke larvae. He manages to turn the wheel and heads back to the ladder out, but other members hook a large hose over the exit and Gregory is flooded with some kind of liquid that also sloshes the flukes everywhere, including on Gregory.
We then rejoin Mulder who is surrounded by full grown Flukemen in the sewer. He fights a few off as the girl passes out with a fluke exiting her nostril. Mulder is quickly overrun by the mob of Flukemen but as they start piling on him, someone in a hazmat suit and a flamethrower shows up and torches the pile. Mulder reaches out to grab the man who calls him stupid in Ukrainian. Mulder is covered in fluke bites and one Flukeman escapes into the sewer water. When Mulder wakes up again he is in a hospital bed with Scully and some doctors. Mulder is obviously delirious and in pain. He says that he “can feel them…moving around,” which really enhances the gross-out feeling from this whole episode. Scully orders the nurse to get a full complement of antibiotics administered once surgery is done. The parasites are bad enough themselves, but being covered in open bite wounds in a sewer can’t do him any favors.
The flashback to 1986 returns and we’re at a shipping dock that’s busy pumping the coolant sucked from the Chernobyl sewers into the ship tanks. One line gets clogged and they open the filter to find Gregory, or what’s left of him. Over this scene a monologue is explaining why Mikhail moved to the US and what happened during that incident. It turns out that it is Sheriff Simmons explaining to Mulder and Scully his involvement with the Flukeman. Simmons knew that Gregory was the start of it all. When they recovered Gregory from the filter, Mikhail pulls a necklace with a ring off his neck. As he does this, a fluke slithers out of his nose and into the ship’s holding tank.

At the first missing person’s incident, Sheriff Simmons didn’t think much of it, but when he saw the bite marks he knew what happened. Mulder and Scully are the first people he’s told his story to. Sheriff Simmons believes that he eliminated the offspring from the original Flukeman when he burned them in the sewer. Mulder wants to have the tunnels swept to be certain, but he is in no condition to jump back into the action, having just came out of surgery.
Mulder goes into the bathroom and splashes water on his face and as he does this, he hears a strange blubing noise from the sink. We leave Mulder and Scully as she tells him to take it slow.

We cut to the Sheriff’s office two days later. It alternates between scenes of Mulder and Scully leaving in a jet. Scully is cautioning Mulder to take it easy so he doesn’t pull any more sutures. Back to the Sheriff’s office where we see Michael Simmons filing missing person’s reports as Mulder and Scully’s conversation continues over it. Mulder and Scully discuss the genetics of the Flukeman and the possibility that all of them might not have been eliminated. We follow Sheriff Simmons into the bathroom. As he sits on the toilet, he looks up and sees a necklace with a ring tied to the air vent on the ceiling over the toilet. Sheriff Simmons wonders out loud who would do this, and just after this he feels something latch onto him in the toilet and sucks him down in a spray of blood and gore. The episode ends with a blubing sound coming from the toilet and a bloody mess all over the Sheriff’s office bathroom.

Overall, this episode definitely brought Flukeman back in a big way. It has obviously not been eradicated and it does have enough consciousness to hold a grudge on Sheriff Simmons for abandoning Gregory in the sewer line. I do have to thank the writers and artists for extending Flukeman’s influence past porta-potties and into normal toilets. Hopefully this doesn’t worm its way into my psyche as much as the TV show did!
I did enjoy seeing an old Monster of the Week return to Season 10. Not all of them stuck with me over the years quite as much as Flukeman. Maybe Eugene Tooms, but I don’t see any logical way to bring him back seeing as the last time we saw him (spoiler alert) he was a bloody streak on an escalator. I liked how Season 10 started with a good amount of issues dealing with the mythology, but they’ve also paid attention to the Monsters of the Week aspect of The X-Files. What I can’t wait to see is how they handle story lines with some humor injected in it. The writers and artists have really proven themselves even at this stage in Season 10. I enjoy how the dialogue stays similar to how the show went, and the artists have been amazing at rendering the characters. Both have been very consistent with their work in the seven issues I’ve reviewed so far.

Thank you to XScribe for editorial assistance.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Past is Prologue

(The following was originally started in June 2013, then shelved. Recent events in the Ukraine, and MH 17 have compelled this to be completed. Knowing all too well that informed conjecture and political speculation can be a nebulous game, the following piece, with all links cited from credible sources, are not based on ‘false flag’ material, but compiled from sources that, in hindsight, had a high accuracy rate regarding Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gitmo, nevertheless you can accept or reject.)
“There are truths which can kill a nation, Agent Mulder, and the military needed something to deflect from its arms strategy: global domination through the capability of total enemy annihilation. The nuclear card was fine as long as we alone could play it, but pointed back at us the generals and politicos knew what they couldn’t win was a public relations war.

Those photos of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were not faces Americans wanted to see in the mirror. Oppenheimer knew it, of course, but we silenced him. When the Russians developed the bomb, the fear in the military was not for safety at home, but for armistice and treaties. The business of America isn’t business, Agent Mulder, it’s war. Since Antietam, nothing has driven the economy faster.” – Michael Kritschgau. Season Five, Redux

“War Is a Racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” -  WWI decorated Major General Smedley Butler, “War Is A Racket” 1935

Many years ago I pretty much came to the conclusion you don’t need contemporary conspiracy theories, when much that transpires in the arena of politics is an open secret, especially with news media venues that under report, ignore key facts, or just gloss over stories altogether. Such is the state of our situation when legitimate reporting is considered ‘liberal bias.’ Many saw this complicity with the media after 9/11, when the drumbeat to go to war in the Middle East ratcheted up a hysteria that misdirected Americans from Afghanistan and Pakistan towards Iraq. With a media that ignored that George Bush was close friends of the Bin Laden family, allowing members of the Bin Laden family to leave the states on 9/11. Or that Bush acquiesced in Saudi Arabia and shut down the Bin Sultan airbase, meeting one of Osama Bin Laden’s demands. Or that the Bush administration lied about chemical weapons in Iraq, or had congress pass the “Patriot Act” under false pretenses, that we could not be safe with conventional safety measures. We always risk the same sets of patterns repeating.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” Sir Walter Scott once observed. The Boston Marathon bombing has become a textbook example of the same mechanizations for deceit, possibly less from our own government than segments of Europe. Some of these developments have forced me to write about these issues, in spite of several pieces I have in the queue. Some of the persistent insanity I see is a byproduct of what Naomi Klein wrote about in “The Shock Doctrine;” also bear in mind that austerity measures have nothing to do with the economy, but with politics. The aim is to disorient the citizen to where, when a tragic event unfolds, no one can get their bearings on a greater agenda, they won’t be able to see the forest from the trees, they will look down at their neighbor, rather than look up and blame oligarchs for their plight. Terrorism has become a great tool to misdirect, and Muslims have become the enemy du jour, guilty until proven innocent. This does not mean that radical Islamists have not given grounds to harbor such mistrust and resentment by Americans; indeed they rightly have done so. But statistically that ratio of domestic terrorism in the States, as well as militias, virus foreign terrorists that have reached our shores, is still higher.

On April, 15th , 2013 the day began typically. There had been countless Boston Marathons that had occurred for years, and then at 2:49 p.m. two explosions rocked the area around the finish line. Three people killed, one a child, countless injured, disfigured, or lost limbs. The police secured the area, initiated a form of Marshall law, and by April 19th, during a lethal chase with the two suspects that had hijacked a car with the aim of heading to New York, they are cornered by police where the older brother and mastermind of the crime, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the firefight (Yet according to police reports as well as eyewitness accounts, the brother was actually killed when Dzhokhar ran over him.) The younger brother, Dzhokhar, managed to flee. By 6. p.m. that same evening, Dzhokhar is found hiding in a parked boat in a backyard, tipped off by the resident to the police. Severely injured, Dzhokhar was alive and was interviewed by investigators on the 19th and 20th where it was learned about the makeshift bombs created. I remember all too well, the hope that this action was not connected to Islamic terrorism, but what became all the more complicated was the connection to Russia.

Both were brothers of Chechen origin , and had come to the US a decade ago. Chechnya is a separatist region that has warred with Russia for independence, launching their own terror strikes, and is predominantly Muslim. The more one learned of their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, the more the initial smell test didn’t pass muster from an idyllic family that had adjusted to America life. Both brothers had become radicalized by a mysterious figure known as Misha. Records indicated that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had left the States for six months from Jan 12, to July 17, 2012 for Russia, and was labeled a ‘person of interest’ as a threat to American security on the Friday prior to the bombing. The conflicts in Chechnya had been long standing, as well as Putin’s general hatred towards this region’s Muslims, a past incident with North Ossetia in 2004 having taken on a certain infamy. This is detailed in accounts listed here and above. The Tsarnaev family had been another byproduct of the conflicts, fleeing to Kazakhstan, then the US; thus far, it appeared pretty clear-cut. But further understanding demonstrated that the parents had been eyed by the American government for years, which made it puzzling that the FBI wouldn’t make much of Russia’s request to investigate the brothers, on the face of it, only to then learn of the strained level of co-operation between the America and Russian intelligence agencies. This only gets more interesting with reflection. Of course the media reported breathlessly every detail of the friends and relations of the Tsarnaevs’, but without focusing on and following up on some key questions.

Just prior to the bombing, there was a story about President Obama’s defiance against Putin by publishing a list of 18 blacklisted Russians on April 12th. One has to start making certain connections here and raising certain questions – remember, the traditional tool of terrorism is to change the policy of a rival super-power. Furthermore, reports had indicated by March that relations had deteriorated between the Obama and the Putin administrations over human rights abuses. As well as the increasing death toll of journalists in Russia, harkening back to the days of old mother Russia. The traditional tool of terrorism was to simply highjack a plane and hold the passengers hostage, then that evolved into makeshift bombs on a domestic front, or to use a plane as a bomb, yet one would have to be naïve to believe that the middle east has a monopoly on such tactics. The IRA in Britain is an example.

Let’s go back to the Tsarnaev brothers, and the fact that Tamerlan was never put on a ‘no-fly’ list and allowed to roam freely between America and Russia. Now at this point Dagestan comes into play here, a country that Americans are warned not to visit, yet by many accounts Tsarnaev entered freely, a point that struck me as odd, and a detail that had been under-reported. One pattern emerges, Putin was allowed to appoint Dagestan’s next governor. Now taking into account what is known about Syria in March of 2013 38, one also has to take into account Putin’s doctrine and his move to consolidate power, and his rationalizations. There were also Putin’s ties to Assad to consider. By April 23rd, investigators interviewed the Tsarnaev parents in Dagestan. To complicate matters, there were the three murders that occurred in Waltham in 2011 on the anniversary of 9/11 that Tsarnaev had become connected with, then, the further revelations that the brothers had planned an attack on New York.

There was also the growing issue with Syria and the use of chemical weapons at that time, and the real push by right wingers to start another war in Syria, a game that would have been dangerous in relation to Putin. There’s an argument to be made that Vladimir Putin was trying to win hearts and minds in America due to sentiment against fundamentalist Muslims to validate America’s involvement in the Syria crisis at that moment of the Boston Bombing, and that on a geo-political sense President Obama didn’t bite. Again, there was also the cause and effect fallout on Innocent Muslims with attacks on them in America. Putin’s gambit seemed like it had enough of an impact on a certain percentage of American’s. Yet some were wise to Putin’s effort to exploit the Tsarnaev brother’s links to Checknya.

The following point is conjecture based on pieced-together evidence, that the Putin administration allowed the Tsarnaevs to move so freely, with the hope that a home-made terrorist act would occur, to foster sentiment by Americas, and to send warnings to the Obama administration that Putin’s government could allow more domestic terrorist actions to occur stateside. At the time the drumbeat to stage a war with Syria was growing, vehement, and miscalculated. The drumbeat came from many that called for us to get into an illegal war with Iraq when Bin Laden had no ties to that region. So, exactly then, what mechanizations were on play that I could cite?

There has been a back and forth over the issue of if Russian Intelligence withheld some information about the Tsarnaevs. The Russians had held back a secret telephone conversation that Tsarnaev had recorded with his mother about jihad in 2011. Members of the House Homeland Security committee have argued after focusing on Tsarnaev’s travels to Russia in 2012, if U.S.agencies shared all appropriate information about his comings and goings, if this information over his travels had been more shared with U.S. intelligence, it might have prompted further investigation into Tsarnaev. While it is true that Russian intelligence did ask the FBI in March 2011, they did so. But when the Bureau asked for further details by Russian intelligence, it wasn’t forthcoming.

Was this due to incompetence by both fronts –America and Russia-- or could there had been an act of contrition, orders on high at some level with the Putin administration to only disclose so much information? Were the Tsarnaevs allowed to move so freely between Dagestan and the U.S. as a means to an end? Could the Putin administration have indirectly engineered, or set up the conditions , to allow for a domestic terrorist act in Boston?

It’s a big and vital question, and one where I can’t rule out what Vladimir Putin is capable of.

There was the gamesmanship that occurred over President Obama drawing lines in the sand over Syria, and then not. If Putin was attempting to win over hearts and minds in the U.S., and have America ally with Russia over Syria and President Assad, exactly how is this any different than the role Saudi Arabia played in getting us involved into solving their problems with Iraq and Iran? I don’t see a big difference.

Putin had demonstrated with North Ossetia a ruthlessness that would leave one to assume anything was possible, if Putin was willing to engage in a genocide with Syrian rebels, if we had participated in such actions, it would have been as morally reprehensible as any Muslin terrorist. There’s been a lot of back and forth debate about the issue of Genocide in Syria. But the wrong course of action would have likely lead to World War III.

I don’t also agree with some colleagues that argue that President Obama is sleepwalking through European history, when dealing with powers that have access to nuclear weapons, certain choices remain catastrophic, unlike a region of desert countries that have access to oil. The context of what to do is important, and some of the west options have to be limited, even if I wish that wasn’t the case. Collectively, we all face the same dilemma: to do what is right as opposed to what is easy.

But any theory cited has little basis unless a pattern is established that validates a greater ulterior motive or agenda, which is why the downing of flight MH-17 over Ukrainian territory becomes so important to consider if Putin is willing to utilize a degree of collateral damage that is unprecedented. Bear in mind that by present accounts Russia’s economy is close to collapsing; it has been historically known that a nationalistic fervor has always been a great distraction to obfuscate from realities that could bring down a leader. We will explore those questions, and if those connections hold valid weight in part 2.

To be continued…

Thanks to Xscribe for editorial assistance