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Review: Galaxy Quest – The Journey Continues

I’m back from vacation and that means I read a lot of comic books. Here’s a review of one of them.

Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues

GalaxyQuest

Writer – Erik Burnham, Artists – Nacho Arranz, Roger Robinson

I was pretty excited when I heard this series was coming out, and doubly so when it was available on NetGalley. Galaxy Quest is one my favorite camp movies and we just recently watched it after the passing of Alan Rickman (probably not the most fitting tribute but to each his own). So perhaps my disappointment with this comic series is due to high expectations, but I’ll leave that for you to judge.

The comic series picks up several years after the events of the movie. The cast is still together and are doing the Con circuit in anticipation of the third season of the new show. The security guy is contemplating a spin off series, a move that is annoying some of the main cast, blah blah TV machinations.

The main story involves the consequences of using the Omega 13 in the movie. An alien race that managed to lead a successful revolt against a technocratic oppressive government, fails when the timeline is reset and the government is able to repel the rebellion. Members of the rebellion enlist the Galaxy Quest crew (plus the Apple commercial kid) to take down a super-weapon and correct the mistake they caused. I think this was an interesting set up premise, that then failed in execution.

This comic had several execution problems starting with a Deus Ex Machina ending. Apparently humans are immune to the death ray thingy for “reasons” and so are able to destroy it without a hitch (spoiler?). The B-plot of aliens posing as the main crew at the cons is underdeveloped and could have been a real source of humor which the comic largely lacked. Also, the lack of likeness rights made it difficult to tell characters apart (particularly when not in their makeup). And Burnham’s writing of Rickman in particular reduced that character to griping the entire time. Perhaps in the hands of Rickman the lines would have come across better, but he didn’t seem quite as pouty in the movie, at least to me.

The setup at the end for “continuing adventures” borrows the plotline from the beginning of the four issue arc, and seems like a rushed attempt to make this a continuing series, which I doubt it will be. BTW, the transporter body switching gag was not as funny as they’d hoped it was. Futurama’s return did a similar episode to much better effect (particularly Scruffy’s appearance at the end). The comic tried to do some callbacks (fan-service) to the movie, but these came across just as references and not as actual humor.

IDW’s doing a run of “nostalgia comics” from Ghostbusters, to Back to the Future, and Galaxy Quest, to varying effect. Of those three, I’d say this was the worst of the lot.

(2.5 Stars | I’ll give it a three on NetGalley, but you’re better off just re-watching the movie)

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Friday Review: John Byrne Loves Trek More Than I Do

For today’s review I’ll be talking about just one title, John Byrne’s second volume of photo-novel style Star Trek comics.

Star Trek: New Visions Volume 2

Writer and Artist – John Byrne

cover63641-mediumJohn Byrne has done a lot of great work with IDW and Star Trek lately. He concluded his own cult series Next Men, re-imagined early works with Doomsday.1, and has filled in oft forgotten corners of the Star Trek universe.

Byrne’s Star Trek work to date includes a Romulan saga that begins with a background story behind the classic TOS episode “The Balance of Terror” (one of my personal favorites), and continues into a tale of trust, betrayal, assassination and fragile alliances.

Did you know “Assignment:Earth” (TOS second season finale) was a back-door pilot for a series that never was? John Byrne did, and imagined his own episodes of that never aired television show in a five issue mini-series.

Ever wonder how a woman who bears a remarkable resemblance to Christine Chapel was first officer on Pike’s Enterprise? John Byrne tells her entire back-story in Star Trek: Crew taking us from the Enterprise’s construction to Pike’s early missions.

And were you wondering what McCoy was doing before The Motion Picture? He was flying around the galaxy saving worlds and playing match-maker to a surly Andorian (if Byrne is to be believed).

Now Byrne is filling in another forgotten corner of the Trek universe, the photo-novel. Only 12 were produced (+1 for the movie), each telling a classic Trek episode in comic-bookish form with photos from the original show. At the time they were a great way to see episodes that you couldn’t see on TV, or watch on video. And then VHS came along and kind of killed the whole thing.

Byrne’s new tales take photos from the original series and other sources to tell original stories. The writing here is classic Byrne, an adventure involving the mysterious Number One and a missing crew, a follow-up to “The Doomsday Machine” (another favorite of mine) and a humor-filled Harry Mudd tale.

I really wish John Byrne had illustrated these tales instead of using photos.

The problem is the CG backgrounds. A lot of the new sets and structures seem to be done with mid 90’s CG trying to look like mid 60’s set design. The effect is rather like making paper dolls of Kirk and company and parading them in front of a backdrop. Some of the visuals (particularly the over-sized Alien in the Doomsday tale) come off comically bad with photos, but I bet they would have worked as Byrne illustrated stories.

The best tale is the Mudd one. Byrne makes use of a few sets that look more like the painted backdrops used on planets and a lot of the sets are Enterprise interior shots that can use the original work. An enemy from Kirk’s past tricks Harry Mudd into assuming Kirk’s form so that he can impersonate Kirk and help this enemy toward a rotten aim. The last frame with Mudd’s restored mustache is worth the price of admission. The Doomsday tale is a little disappointing (feels like a rehash of the episode without the personal drama), and the Number One story is a little confusing.

The next issue of this series doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better. Byrne is going to somehow work the Borg into the TOS universe. Maybe it’s time to be moving on.

(3 Stars | I wish this was better, and drawn by Byrne)

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