Thursday, November 6, 2008

Battlestar Galactica #0-8

What better to use for my first review than something that has been taking over my whole life as of late: Ron Moore's reimaging of Battlestar Galactica. In the last month, I have become completely obsessed with BSG. I've bought all of the DVD's and watched the first three seasons from start to finish. When it originally debuted, I was in school and missed the miniseries which led to me falling behind pretty fast. Since the continuing narrative is not very friendly to new viewers, I just never found the time to devote to it until recently. BSG is truly an amazing show in that the writers have created a world in which they have the ability to tell stories the viewer can relate to as well as comment on today's relevant issues while still operating in the mode of a massive science fiction epic.

Now I can see you reading this and asking yourself "this is supposedly a comic book blog, where are the comics?" Well, after starting to watch Battlestar Galactica, it came to my attention that Dynamite Entertainment was printing multiple comic series based on the show. Due to my new found love of the program, the hunt was on for these issues. Luckily for me, the search did not take long and in the myriad of longboxes at the Windy City Comicon, I found twelve of the thirteen issues of the core Battlestar Galactica book (only missing #11), the complete "Zarek" limited series, and a handful of issues of the "Origins" series. Honestly for a longbox diver like myself, I really wasn't expecting to find any of them when I left for the con due to the fact that most vendors just bring their old Marvel and DC books to sell at shows and leave the back issues of the smaller press titles at the store. Fate smiled on me though and I walked away with an armful of BSG goodness or so I thought....

I chose to delve into the core book first because I had a almost complete run of the series and I thought it would tie into the show's storyline more than the others. I was encouraged as I opened up the front cover of issue #0 to find the series explanation from the start of every show and a note that placed the story right in between two episodes of the show. Hooray! They really want this to work and even went as far as to place the story in a set time period within the series. Then I noticed the writer: Greg Pak. Yes, the Greg Pak from World War Hulk among many other Marvel books as of late. Apparently, BSG is the only non-Marvel comic work Pak has done. By this point, I am pretty excited to start reading a story firmly set in the BSG world written by an established comic writer.

As much as it pains me to say it though, my excitement faded pretty quickly. Licensed comics are a fickle mistress. It is very easy to fall into the traps that make for bad licensed comics. Sadly, Battlestar Galactica shows many of these fatal flaws. First of all (and probably the most obvious at first glance), the art is distractingly bad. If you cannot draw the people from the show, then a licensed comic might not be the best assignment for you. I definitely don't want to give the impression that artist Nigel Raynor shouldn't be drawing comics, but he chooses not to try very hard to make his representations of the characters look like their televised counterparts. Basically, all of the characters are reduced to stereotypes with matching hair color except for Sharon who is drawn as a Hispanic woman instead of an Asian one and President Roslin who is drawn much younger than her character in the show. Artists should bring their own flavor to a book, but they can't just disregard the other media that the license may come from.

As for the story, there is no silver lining there either. First of all, it was like Pak had the first fifty issues of the series thought up and then either he realized that the show's progression would prevent him from doing everything he wanted or Dynamite surprised him when they told him he only had twelve issues to do everything he wanted. I say this because within the issues #0 through 8, the crew of the Battlestar Galactica deal with pirates, terrorists, Cylons impersonating dead family members of the crew, old model pre-rebellion Cyclons, and a bunch of the current model Cylons (including both Centurions and another Sharon Valerii copy) all AT THE SAME TIME. The story is a constant mashup of plots and problems all crossing and intersecting. Nothing resolves itself. I fear even more for the people who read this in trade since the trades don't even end at logical points. I thought by reading to issue #8 (the end of the Volume 2 trade paperback) that something would be resolved but none of it was. It is just too much.

The feel of the book does not fit the show either which presents another common flaw of licensed comics. Comic fans are the most continuity-obsessed people ever, and when what they read does not fit into continuity, they will go berserk. It is just that simple. At the time that the book came out, everything in the story may have made sense. It may not have been good, but it would have made sense. Now that the show has continued, we know that a lot of the events and happenings in the book would never have happened in the show and yet again the reader is angry.

All I need to say is that Battlestar Galactica is a phenomenon that is considered by some to be the best show on TV currently. With that status and preexisting fanbase, it only made sense to make a BSG comic book. I really just wish they tried a litte harder. Hopefully, the Zarek and Origins series will be better.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Yeah, that's not good if the artist can't copy faces from a screen. Seems like a no-brainer.

Great Blog idea, Mike and Katie!