REVIEW: Battlestar Galactica #1

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There are those who believe that stories here began back there, far across time with rooms of writers who may have provided the basis for licensed comic adaptations of popular television shows… who may have been the architects of fantastic sequential storytelling… Some believe there may yet be derivative works that even now fight to survive—somewhere beyond the comic book rack! Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the original version of the last battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest through Dynamite Entertainment’s “Battlestar Galactica” ongoing series. Read on for your Major Spoilers review of its inaugural issue.

BSG01-Cov-RossBATTLESTAR GALACTICA #1
WRITERS
: DAN ABNETT and ANDY LANNING
ARTIST: CEZAR RAZEK
COLORS: VINICIUS TOWNSEND
LETTERS: SIMON BOWLAND
EDITOR: JOE RYBANDT
PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
COVER PRICE: $3.99

SOARS TO NO HEIGHTS BUT DIVES TO NO DEPTHS

A fit of childish glee. That was my reaction when the review copy of this issue appeared in my email; I had no clue a new BSG series was on the horizon, so it was a welcome and giddy surprise. Admittedly, the original series was kind of cheap and kind of campy, but it was also delightsome thanks to the charm of Dirk Benedict and the gravitas of Lorne Greene.

I have some problems with this adaptation, however. It felt generic, like a forgettable episode of the original series rather than a potential reinvigoration of the property. Certain elements of the story, such as bearded Adama or the presence of Zee overlapping with Apollo and Starbuck, are incongruous with the series’ established continuity so, presumably, the action is intended to take place between “Battlestar Galactica” and “Galactica 1980.” It’s perfectly fine if that’s the case, but it confused me as an avid BSG fan. I don’t want to judge the issue harshly because it suffers from having to reestablish the universe to the uninitiated, but it kind of dragged on longer than it needed. At the beginning, we’re made to think we’re joining the action in media res, but soon it becomes apparent that this is all a flashback of Adama’s, so, four or five pages in, everything starts over from a point that’s much more depressing and boring than the action that came before.

Because of my familiarity with some aspects of the show’s production and that of its ignominious successor, “Galactica 1980,” I suspect that the story—especially after Zee’s unsanctioned deus ex machina weapons enter the tale—draws from one of the original plot threads of the latter series. I won’t spoil it if that is, in fact, the case, but it involved lots of time travel with Apollo and Starbuck as the central characters. If this, or something akin to it, is what writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have in mind, then it will all depend on their skill as to whether it can be woven into an engaging story. There’s lots of potential for goofiness.

On balance, though, I enjoyed the book, though I suspect nostalgia played a large part in that. I give the writers a hand because the dialogue, even at its hokiest, sounded pitch perfect coming out of the mouths of those characters.

FELT MORE COLORING BOOK THAN COMIC BOOK

Cezar Razek’s art is better in broad strokes, at least with this issue. Backgrounds, battle and explosions are rendered in sufficient detail, but the smaller, more personal moments are marred by bland faces with little definition. There’s no subtlety to characters’ emotions, either—Adama, for example, is either very surprised, very sad, very angry or neutral.

The coloring felt one-dimensional to me, if that’s the right way to describe it. Everything is smooth and crisp, which I expect from digital coloring, but not from a ragtag band of besieged fugitives. If that was the method Vinicius Townsend used to color the book, then I submit that it doesn’t match harsh world of the Colonial Fleet. It’s too perfect.

More positively, the character designs are spot on. There’s no mistaking this as a continuation of the original series with the familiar faces of Greene and Richard Hatch, the latter of whom young folks might remember as Tom Zarek from the newer BSG.

BOTTOM LINE: I’LL CHECK IT OUT AGAIN IN FOUR SECTONS

“Battlestar Galactica” #1 filled a campy, space-opera-sized hole in my heart. It suffers, of course, from having to introduce the original series to readers who may be more familiar with Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff as Adama, Apollo and Starbuck respectively. This first issue wasn’t stellar, but it was a solid effort and looks like it might build into something interesting. If you liked any iteration of BSG, then check it out (except “Galactica 1980″—if that’s your favorite, then you stop reading and go contemplate your errors of judgment); if you stick around for a couple of months your devotion may be rewarded. 2.5 stars, in a vacuum, but it could be rounded up to a 3 if the next issue pulls its weight.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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