Three lost tales taking place in the third season find a home in this original work.
Writers: Emily Salzfass, Richard Hatch, Mike Wellman
Artists: Chrissy Delk, Christopher Shons, Anthony Wu
What They Say
Culled from storylines that didn't make it past the cutting room floor, the Battlestar Galactica manga takes place in Season 3 of the popular television series. In these interstellar tales, Baltar goes on trial after being falsely accused of massacre, Roslin refuses to implement a new curriculum that is sympathetic to the Cylons, Zarek faces a mutiny after being elected vice president, and Kacey learns something about true maternal love.
BSG is done in an oversized format, slightly bigger than the usual A5 format, which gives it more of a traditional comic book feel. The front cover is nicely done, and honestly is the best part of the entire book, with a full color piece of several of the main characters set against the backdrop of various ships and the Galactica itself. This is the only place where all the characters are really identifiable which is one of the problems of the book. Inside, reading in a Western left to right format, the page flow is pretty good and it’s easy to follow along as it uses conventional comic book layouts that rarely go beyond the boxes that they’re in. It’s free of smudges or bleeding of any note and the text for all of it is clean and easy to read. The text summary pages are helpful for setting the stage for that particular story as well which is a nice touch.
While the basics of the book are good, the artwork itself is very poor. So much so that it’s very reminiscent of a lot of what came out in the 1980’s during the black and white glut when everyone was trying to get into the market. Some good artists came out of that with time and work, but so much here just feels very poor. What’s even worse for a book like this is that it is fairly high profile because of the title and because they’re supposed to look like the actors. Unless there’s some sort of stipulation that their likenesses can’t be used perhaps, because so few of the characters in here are truly identifiable with the actors that portray them. Some fare better than others, but what’s really bad is that their expressions often don’t mirror what would fit into the show, particularly the entire story surrounding Tom Zarek.
Having just finished watching the Blu-ray release of Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica, it was the perfect time to sit down and check out this book since the events here flesh out pieces of that season. I’ve been a fan of the show for some time but I can easily admit that books like this make me uneasy. After experiencing many – many – adaptations of shows into comics from the late 1970’s through the mid 1990’s, let’s just say that the track record isn’t there for most publishers and that there are relatively few titles that work right. TOKYOPOP has been doing a number of original works based off of TV properties, such as Cartoon Network shows, but they had not tackled anything like this all that much.
I hope they don’t again.
This book is made up of three stories that show different parts of season three, stories that could easily fit in but would also be told differently and mingled in a way that would work better than a standalone story. The opening story gives us a look at life on New Caprica somewhat early on after the Cylon arrival where former President Laura Roslin is working with the kids but finding fewer making it every time as their parents are being turned into collaborators in order to keep the kids safe. There’s some unusual choices made by the Calvin’s as they run New Caprica and some potentially interesting things to be said about the origins of the Cylons and the teaching of Colonial history, but by and large it’s a paper thin plot. And a plot that’s served with some strikingly obvious cut and paste of artwork that was really distracting and amateurish.
The second story is the better of the bunch, written by original Battlestar Galactica alum Richard Hatch. He’s writing for the role he has in the new show as this story centers around Tom Zarek and the things he does during the short window of time as President after the escape from New Caprica. The set up of the trial of peers designed to execute collaborators was one of the more intriguing ideas in the show and there are some good tidbits here as it talks about Zarek’s past on Sagittaron and how similar events played out there. They make all of it very personal here when a friend of his is caught up in it, which is really unnecessary, and the gathering of the jury of peers is awkward and stilted because the people outside of the regulars aren’t even given names sometimes. And with it being very difficult to figure who is who because of poor artwork, it just glazes over. The dialogue changes from the show during the carryover scenes portray the events in a way that really changes the tone of it as well. I like the Zarek character and I like Hatch but Zarek is given the wrong kinds of emotions to be put on display here. The parts of the storyline that did make it into the show are really all that needed to be said about this chapter of the Fleet.
The last story takes us a bit further past the initial exodus from New Caprica and deals with Kara “Starbuck” Thrace as she copes with the loss of Kacey and all that it entails psychologically. She has issues with seeing how Kacey is dealing with life with her mother as a part of Dogsville on the Galactica and decides that she’d do better with her and promptly takes her. It isn’t so much out of character but rather anything that needed to be said about this sequence of events in Kara’s life had already been fully dealt with. This is a smaller and more personal story overall, but there isn’t any real connection to it because of how it plays out in the show itself. Anything that you had invested in it was played out there and this feels like overkill, an attempt at tugging at the heart strings when they’ve already been yanked on pretty hard if you’ve followed Kara’s life at all since the initial invasion.
This book was a real chore to get through. There are some good ideas in there, but nowhere near enough to flesh out the individual stories, never mind as a whole book itself. A book like this may have worked better if they had done original characters and their stories, pushing the known characters to the outside looking in at best, or getting away from the Galactica itself for a bit, such as telling a story about those left behind on New Caprica after the second exodus. Compounding the weak stories is some truly terribly artwork that shouldn’t have made it across any editors desk or been approved by anyone that oversees the Battlestar Galactica franchise. This may be something for completists or someone who gets suckered in by something potentially shiny on a store shelf, but don’t confuse this with manga or good comics either. It’s just pure marketing shovelware.