Posted by: Graeme McMillan on April 27, 2007
The funniest thing* happened to me on the way to writing this post – I got called out by a publisher. Okay, not called out, exactly, but following my post about Savage Tales, the wonderful (and I’m not even being facetious) Joe Rybandt of Dynamite Entertainment and I ended up in an email exchange about just why I don’t dig Red Sonja. Which resulted in his sending me some Dynamite books after I admitted that I don’t really read them.
And here’s the punchline: I still don’t like Red Sonja. But Battlestar Galactica? Not so bad. And The Lone Ranger? Really rather good.
When it comes to RED SONJA #21, I suddenly become a boyfriend trying desperately to get out of a relationship; it’s not you, Sonja. It’s me. Try as hard as I might – and I actually really did try, this time, surprisingly enough – I just don’t get Red Sonja at all. I have problems reading it, literally; it’s not just that the story doesn’t make sense to me (Why are they fighting? Why do they all have cat heads? What’s happening?), but I felt as if the typeface used for the lettering was chosen specifically to be hard to read, and the art is colored for maximum murkiness in far too many places. I’m sure that this book has its fans and that those fans have particularly good reasons to enjoy it, but for me it’s almost entirely a confused Eh and no more.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #8, meanwhile, demonstrates why TV tie-ins are problematic for series with continuity as tight as this one. It’s not that this book is bad, per se – the script has moments where it catches the tone of the television series, and even an act-break with a last line that could come directly from Ron Moore himself, and the art is still a little too colorful for its source but with the occasional good likeness, especially on Sharon and Adama – but the story just feels false because its scale is too large to have been ignored by everyone during the second and third seasons. Similarly, setting this mini in the middle of the second season robs what little dramatic tension it may have – We know that everyone survives and that nothing of import can really happen, because we’ve seen what happens for the next year and a half. It’s a weird flaw for this Okay book, and one that is semi-addressed by the upcoming “Season Zero” series, set two years before the start of the television series.
(Yes, the reader will still know what ultimately happens to the characters, but starting at an earlier point adds a couple of interesting wrinkles – The fact that we know how the characters end up works in its favor because you have the whole “How did they get like that?” question, and also, a two-year cushion is enough time to make changes with the possibility of changing things back later…)
Season Zero gets a preview in Dynamite’s Free Comic Book Day special issue, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: SEASON ZERO #0/THE LONE RANGER #0. The Galactica strip is more effective than the current series, partially because it’s in an unfamiliar familiar setting – we know the characters but not really, just yet – and partially because Brandon Jerwa’s dialogue fits what you expect better than Greg Pak’s (Not so sure about the artwork, though; too Top Cow for my liking…). It’s a high Okay, but the issue is well worth picking up for the Very Good Lone Ranger short. It’s not high art, but it is a well-done, fun sampler for the ongoing Ranger series – It has a damsel in distress, kids in danger, a bad guy with a glass jaw and a funny last line from Tonto, pretty much all that I’d want from a Lone Ranger comic book, and done with some very attractive art from Sergio Cariello. Convincing enough, in fact, for me to want to see what the regular book looks like. Somewhere, Joe Rybandt is claiming victory, as well he should.
Just don’t try to convince me that I should try to read Red Sonja again.
* – It’s not actually funny, I know.