1. Ten alien abductions, from ‘V’ to ‘X-Files’New ‘Fourth Kind’ film is just latest to depict unearthlykidnappingsWhen you think about it, it seems like aliens have always been abducting Earthlings. Youcan find references to similar behavior in mythology all over the world. There areshockingly similar accounts of incidents decades removed from one another. And now thenew movie "The Fourth Kind" (opening Friday) promises perhaps the most frighteninglook at what its producers call "fact-based" cases from Nome, Alaska.However "real" the cases, the world of fiction runs rampant with great alien abductiontales, and here are ten great examples.‘Secret Invasion’Last year’s Marvel Comics mega-event dealt largely with an invasion by the shape-shiftingSkrull Empire. However, that invasion was presaged by a running series of revelationsregarding which characters had already been abducted and replaced. In many ways, itriffed on non-abduction classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (which just had thehumans taken over on their home planet). However, there was a later payoff to thereplacements when the kidnapped characters finally returned.‘Taken’"Taken" boasted a pretty impressive pedigree for a Sci-Fi Channel mini-series. The 2002production had no less than Steven Spielberg as an Executive Producer; episode directorsincluded Tobe Hooper and genre TV stalwart Félix Enríquez Alcalá. Epic in scope, thenarrative followed three families through five decades, demonstrating how each one hadbeen affected by extraterrestrial contact. It’s revealed within the story that over 43,000Earthlings were abducted to further an experiment that would ultimately create ahuman/alien hybrid. That hybrid, Allie, played by Dakota Fanning, winds up departingEarth with the aliens by series end.
2. ‘Martian Manhunter’One of the original seven members of the Justice League of America, J’onn J’onnz, MartianManhunter, is the least known to the general public. Though he did finally make it into theanimated “Justice League” of this decade, he’s still outside the mainstream. That’s too bad,because his arrival on Earth is a clever twist on the alien abduction formula. J’onn, the lastof his kind, was accidentally brought to Earth by a transmission experiment of oneProfessor Erdel. The shock of seeing J’onn arrive gave Erdel a fatal heart attack. The shape-shifting alien decided to learn about his new home, eventually becoming a police detectiveand super-hero before co-founding the Justice League.The X-Men’s ‘Brood Saga’In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, it seemed like the X-Men were constantly being kidnappedby one alien race or another. The Sh’iar, the Badoon, and yes, The Brood all had a hand instealing away the X-Men from time to time. Perhaps the Brood Saga is the most commonlyremember, as it really had the longest arc of trajectory. Playing out between issues #154and #167, the storyline saw the X-Men battling the Brood, “Aliens”-like aliens that soughtto implant the mutants with their eggs in order to create a superior version of their ownrace. The battles raged on Earth and in space for months until the Brood homeworld wasdestroyed. Upon their return to Earth, the X-Men and their alien allies The Starjammersmanaged to save an implanted Professor Charles Xavier.‘V’They came in peace, and they came hungry. "V", reimagined this year for an ABC series,began life in 1983 as a mini-series event on NBC. A classic TV moment emerged when wegot to see what the “visitors” were for the first time: rodent-devouring reptilians hidingunder human guise. The real kicker was that the Visitors weren’t content with our furryfriends; they began stockpiling humans as the new intergalactic taste sensation. The firstmini was a huge hit, leading to sequel “V: The Final Battle”, a short-lived DC Comics series,and a short-lived weekly TV series. Frankly, we can’t wait to see how the big reveal playsthis time around, or if the nature of the Visitors has changed entirely.
3. John Carter, Warlord of MarsIt’s debatable whether John Carter’s first trip to Mars is abduction, as it’s accomplished byastral projection. However, Carter is certainly unceremoniously retrieved on lateroccasions. For those unfamiliar with Carter, he’s the OTHER huge creation by Edgar RiceBurroughs, the writer behind Tarzan. Carter made his bones in a series of pulp adventureswherein he marries a princess of Mars and battles all manner of alien menaces. Manyattempts have been made in recent years to get John Carter on screen, and it seems as if itmay finally happen. Martian intervention, anyone?‘Fire in the Sky’Though critical reaction to the 1993 film based on Travis Walton’s account of his ownalleged alien abduction is, to put it politely, mixed, many agree that the sequence detailingWalton’s incarceration aboard the alien spacecraft is one of the more harrowing scenes ofthat type on film. Credit should go to screenwriter Tracy Torme and director RobertLieberman, as they were called upon to punch up Walton’s original account. While the filmas a whole might not be the greatest viewing experience on this planet, many concur thatthe experimentation scenes are genuinely frightening.‘Communion’Whitley Strieber already had a name as the writer of “Wolfen” and “TheHunger” when, in 1987, he published his account of his own interactionwith “visitors”. Though he has stated many times over the years that hedidn’t necessarily consider the encounter to be one withextraterrestrials, the sketches that document his experience have fedinto the public notion of “greys”. Regardless, since that time, Strieber hasbecome a prolific writer and speaker in terms of related phenomenon,touching on Roswell in his novel “Majestic” and discussing theoutpouring of correspondence he has received about his visit in “TheCommunion Letters”.
4. ‘The X-Files’While “The X-Files” as a whole is shot through with stories across the genre spectrum,perhaps nothing informed the “mythos” of the series so much as the tri-cornered-conceptof alien contact, alien cover-up and alien abduction. For years the central pillar of the seriesis Agent Fox Mulder’s search for his sister, Samantha, whom he believed to have beenabducted. While the answer to Samantha’s fate is later resolved with a possibly somewhatdifferent outcome, other characters through the tenure of the series are unquestionablytaken, including, for a time, Agent Mulder himself.‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’If you’re going to be abducted by aliens, it might as well be friendly aliens. And it might aswell be in one of the best films to ever handle the subject. Steven Spielberg was on his wayto being STEVEN SPIELBERG when he directed this science fiction classic in 1977. One ofthe interesting bits here is that all of the people that are “abducted” eventually returnunharmed. Another intriguing notion is that the government doesn’t’ attack the alienmothership, but rather uses tools such as music to communicate with it. This of courseleads to designated delegates boarding the mothership on behalf of Earth. It was analarmingly refreshing departure from the days of “Earth vs. The Flying Saucer”, and it’svaguely sad to see that most human/alien tales areabout conflict rather thancommunication. Then again, maybe we’d be more willing to talk if they’d stop with theabducting. And the probing.