Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 faces off Apollo and Baltar in addition to Boomer and the Cylons and not a lot about the issues makes sense in the end.
Previously in Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #3: As Starbuck and Athena face a terrifying enemy under Carillion, and Apollo, Boomer and Jolly face Baltar’s Cylonic Giants, the Aethership Galactica heads to Gemini to stop an invasion! But will it be their greatest battle – or their LAST? Come with us on this Steampunk re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica by #1 New York Times bestselling author Tony Lee!
DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW
First thing to know going into Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4: you must be familiar with the characters as they appears in the original Battlestar Galatica television series. Second, none of the characters in the issue look anything like the actors from the original Battlestar Galactica television series. Thirdly, no exposition is given to help a new reader figure out what is going on or the stakes of the narrative and that is pretty much how the rest of Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 goes.
The issue opens with Adama senior saying good-bye to Apollo. The characters in Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 all have equivalent ranks to their television counterparts, but writer Tony Lee handles them clumsily and at no point throughout the issue do they feel true to the steampunk nature of the universe or anything even close to familiar.
Further to the “steampunk” idea. The issue is titled Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 and – with the exception of Galactica’s design being much more like the Hindenburg than anything else – the world feels much more like something Image would have been publishing around 1993 and, by all my understanding, that is not what the word steampunk means.
Setting all that aside, the main thrust of Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 is Apollo attacking Baltar and his Cylon army. Lee gets credit for tapping into the literary foil nature of these two characters – both living up to self-imposed legacies, Adama junior electing to toe the line while Baltar uses his hyper-intelligence for nye-on no good deed. Their moments together are both the most dramatic and compelling of the issue.
Unfortunately for Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 the best moments of the overarching narrative are interrupted by scenes between Cassiopeia and Sheba that accomplish nothing save to cement the fact that every female character present in this universe is not only unlikeable, but not compelling. Lee fails to give these characters interesting voices even in their positions as rivals where he could have penned a mini mirror-plot to the Apollo/Baltar paradigm.
Much like the missed opportunity with Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4’s limited female cast, Boomer – one of the only characters in the issue who represents anything like diversity – uses his cybernetic hardware to connect directly with the Cylon army and take them out of the game.
By the end of the issue there are some explosions and a couple heartfelt scenes, including the requisite Adama family scene, but Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 is messy, ill-conceived and a tedious read.
Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 is penciled by Aneke and, as I mentioned above, there are a lot of cues taken from early Image design work. Most of the characters wear the same face, extreme and poorly designed facial hair is utilized to distinguish the male cast of character where hair colour is used to differentiate the female cast.
The best thing about the art of Steampunk Battlestar Galatica 1880 #4 is that Apollo’s character design is so clearly inspired by Robert Downy Jr. as Tony Stark that he stands out most strikingly from the rest of the cast.
The space battles that Aneke puts on the page in Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 don’t quite live up to the scope that Lee’s narrative is reaching for. That in mind, seeing the naval inspired spaceships cutting through the galaxy is some of the most interesting aspects of the issue, design-wise.
THE BOTTOM LINE: NOT GREAT SPACE
Battlestar Galactica the television show worked because it was soap opera set in a galaxy far beyond our own. Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #4 doesn’t work because it removes the “steampunk” qualities almost completely and makes an attempt at space opera where the creative team ought to have focused on character-based conflict.