Review: Galactica 1980 #1

by

1980_01_PICON.jpg

Is there life on Earth and does that mythical place even exist at all? Well both those extremely important questions are answered after Troy and Dillon discover the Voyager probe floating in space and take it to Dr Zee for analysis. The path to the promised land is now clear and although Adama is considering a completely different path, the rest of the governing council decide that the not inconsiderable risk is worth taking. However nobody bothered to inform NORAD that the Galactica was on its way and the Presidents response is both swift and deadly.

1980_01_Cover.jpgHow could anyone not appreciate Galactica 1980?  It had Cylon warriors being totally disabled by an early microwave oven (which is why you should always carry a microwave around with you, just in case you run into a Cylon when you are out shopping at your local comic book store). It had time travel that turned your clothes white (now there is something that Procter & Gamble research labs should take note of). It had a young colonial child use advanced technology to throw a baseball so hard it went straight through a wooden partition (I could think of several major league clubs that could use a pitcher like that). Apparently, however, some people didn’t like the new show at all. They thought that this revamp, set on planet Earth, was an inferior copy of the original series that they had religiously followed. They seemed to think that the new plot lines had become increasingly nonsensical and they decided to watch something else instead. The network noticed the ensuing ratings plunge and pulled the plug on the whole effort.

But just suppose the revamp had worked! Lets conjecture that instead of descending into a spiral of increasing farce and confusion, the writers had decided to make their show a bit more pragmatic and grounded in the real life events of what was going on during those times. That show may have been a success. That show may have found an audience. Well that’s the premise that Marc Guggenheim has decided to work from in this new version of the Galactica 1980 concept. So how competently does he pull it off?

Well if I tell you that in this comic we see some things that were definitely not in the original broadcast series. We witness Commander Adama put a gun to his head and contemplate suicide. We observe Captain Troy descending into alcoholism. We see the American armed organize an attack against the fleet which brings the Galactica crashing down in front of the White House. All of these new elements combine to make the reader feel more grounded in the reality of the early eighties. There is a genuine sense of the overwhelming paranoia that was prevalent in those days. The Russians were the main enemy then and it makes sense that when the Battlestar is descending down into Washington airspace that President Carter would believe that his nation was under a possible Soviet attack and respond accordingly.

Guggenheim is well versed in both writing for comics and television and his competence really shines through here. Not only is his new premise interesting but the dialogue is also extremely believable. During the scenes in the council chamber I could picture in my mind eye, Lorne Greene, delivering the line about how he didn’t travel millions of miles through space to conquer other humans. It was totally authentic and totally in tune with the strengths of the actor who had journeyed from the Ponderosa to the Pleiades. And the whole comic reads like that. It takes the subject matter that every science fiction fan is familiar with and treats it seriously and so forces from the reader a new respect from something that up until how had been regarded as a television laughingstock. That’s really not an easy thing to do but Mr Guggenheim does it very adroitly.

Cezar Razek is the artist on this comic. His style in here is very basic indeed , almost spartan in places, but it works well. He succinctly captures the slightly washed out color essence of the T.V programmes of those days and I particularly liked his depiction of the young John Denver look-alike, Dr Zee. This art will not be to everyone’s taste but not every title needs the hyper detailed drawings of say Geof Darrow. There is room in the comic firmament  for differing page treatments and Razak’s does the job. I also have to note that I liked the cover by Lucio Parrillo, which is itself a re-imagining of the box art of the Galactica 1980 DVD set.

Because of perceived prejudice in the subject matter some fans of the re-imagined Galactica show may not even pick this comic up which would be a shame because there is a lot of things going in here that they would absolutely love. David Eick and Ronald D. Moore proved that you can clone a television show and set it upon a new invigorating path. Marc Guggenheim shows us in this book that you can take the original body and after some radical surgery bring it back to life again. This is a very good beginning and this comic deserves to find an audience, which means it gets four stars from me.

4stars.jpg