SPACE: 1999 — AFTERSHOCK AND AWE
Writer: Andrew E.C. Gaska
Artists: Gray Morrow, Miki, & David Hueso
Publisher: Archaia Black Label
So, in our neverending quest to take even the most obscure forgotten nostalgic television franchises and milk them for the modern day, Archaia brings to your local comic shops a massive graphic novel: SPACE: 1999—AFTERSHOCK AND AWE.
Now, I realize that I am literally the only person reading this who even remembers SPACE: 1999, and a lot of my interest in the show was my budding puberty and the presence of the sexy Barbara Bain (of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE) fame in the cast. However, that being said, the early-to-mid-70s was not particularly notable for high-end sci-fi TV shows. Sure, we had the SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN/BIONIC WOMAN shows going. We had a quickly cancelled, and pretty lame, PLANET OF THE APES TV show. There was the also the quickly cancelled GEMINI MAN (about a secret agent who could turn invisible). In general, sci fi was not the popular thing it is today. It’s amazing what the appearance of STAR WARS could do in terms of completely shifting the entire paradigm of what the masses crave in popular entertainment. I cannot emphasize enough how difficult it was for the few closet geeks like me out there who were stuck watching chopped-up reruns of STAR TREK and LOST IN SPACE every day to find a fix of something space-related that was actually new!
SPACE: 1999 was from the same guys who brought us a show I used to watch as a wee child called UFO. In fact, it’s almost a kinda sorta sequel to that show. In 1970, they set UFO in 1980. And in the mindset of those days where we had just recently walked on the moon for the first time, I am sure the expectation was that surely we would be regularly jetting in and out of space and battling space aliens right and left by 1980. By 1999, surely we would have moonbases established with humans living and working on the moon as easily as, say, living in Arkansas or something.
And that was the premise of SPACE: 1999. In 1975, it was set 24 years in the future in the year 1999 and Moonbase Alpha is where our intrepid team of scientists, headed by Doctor Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) and Command John Koenig (Martin Landau), live and perform futuristic experiments. When an unexpected thermonuclear explosion propels the moon out of Earth’s orbit, Moonbase Alpha is hurled along with the runaway moon into deep space. While hurtling through space, they encountered all kinds of bizarre 70’s-style aliens and monstrous threats. They had cool vehicles like the moon buggy and the Eagle space shuttle. For the times, pre-STAR WARS, they were pretty well done. I actually remember drawing the Eagle once, copying it from the SPACE: 1999 comic put out by Charlton Comics at the time.
is unique. One of the things about SPACE: 1999, the TV series, was that we never really had a peek at Earth. It all took place on Moonbase Alpha. And since, in the pilot episode, the moon was tossed out of orbit there really was no reasonable way for them to explore Earth in terms of stories because for all intents and purposes the relationship between Moonbase Alpha and Earth was forever severed, sSo, we never really got to see how that futuristic society had evolved or what the politics of the time were. We had some hints given, and the show itself did much of what STAR TREK had done in the prior decade and presented morality tales that touched on issues current at the time of the series. And what writer Andrew Gaska does in SPACE: 1999—AFTERSHOCK AND AWE is a three-fold stroke of brilliance. First of all, he tweaks the premise slightly to explain how we can have the events of SPACE: 1999 happen when we still have a moon and no moonbase in 2013. Gaska posits that the world of the series was set in an alternate reality where JFK was never assassinated and the space program progressed much faster and farther than it did in our reality. Secondly, he takes the original Charlton Comics adaptation of the pilot episode, in a story titled “Awe” with remastered art by the late, great Gray Morrow, and reprints that story. And thirdly, he then picks up after that with a story called “Aftershock” that picks up the story on Earth so that the reader can see the aftermath. What happens to the Earth and the people in the days, months, and even years after the moon is torn from its orbit and hurled into deep space?
So is it any good?
Well, yeah. I think so. I honestly think the adaptation by Gray Morrow is the superior story, but I’m biased since I’m an old-school comics guy with a nostalgic bent. That being said, the new stuff illustrated by Miki and Hueso is also pretty solid storytelling in a more current style. The two styles are not particularly compatible, but they work within this context because of how it is presented. That visual jump in styles from a classic old-school 70’s style of comic art to the more modern digitally enhanced stylings of 2013 comics art adds to my enjoyment.
I like how the “Aftermath” story breaks it up into focusing on separate characters for each chapter so that the reader gets different perspectives as to the impact of such a cataclysmic effect. This book is solid sci-fi entertainment with a nice tinge of nostalgia. It took me awhile to read, mainly because of the density of the writing in the reprinted adaptation of the TV-series pilot. It’s good, strong sci-fi with enough to satisfy the old-school readers and younger readers if they can get past the 1999 in the title. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
MAN OF STEELRelease Date: June 15, 2013
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne
Official Synopsis: A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
I need to get this sentence out of the way at the start because I'm going to start analyzing some aspects of this film that may come off as negative but they aren't really intended like that so...here goes:
MAN OF STEEL is a successful reboot and reenergizing of the very dead SUPERMAN film franchise.
I was hooked from the start of the film right through the end primarily because of 2 factors: (1) it is a fantastically imaginative science-fiction action film and (2) Henry Cavill completely captures the essence of the introspective messiah archetype that they remake Superman into for this film and for the modern era.
I mentioned it to some friends online immediately after viewing the film that this really is not a super-hero movie. This is a science-fiction movie first and foremost. It is also a character study of Clark Kent more than Superman — yes, for purposes of my discussion here I will separate the two. To appreciate this film you really need to check all your preconceptions at the door and stop trying to impose your idea of who and what Superman is. This is not the social-activist arrogant brute that appeared in 1938 with no real respect for life. Neither is this the all-powerful demigod of impossible perfection he evolved into. This is not the smiling get-lost-cats-out-of-trees and wink at the camera Christopher Reeve version. This is not the Clark from SMALLVILLE running around in a world surrounded by secret super-heroes and monsters. Those are super-heroes grounded in the commonly expected tropes of super-hero stories. This movie is more about Earth and humanity's first known encounter with extraterrestrial aliens and Clark Kent/Kal-El is the set of eyes through which this story unfolds.
|Russell Crowe as Jor-El on Krypton|
This is not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.
|Henry Cavill as Clark Kent|
|Henry Cavill as Superman|
|Henry Cavill as Superman|
The heart and soul of the film itself is the deep-seated integrity and inherent goodness in Clark and Henry Cavill really pours himself into the part. Not only does he look perfect for the part, but his deep, deep thoughtful expressions and tender smile really make Superman into someone who feels real and unthreatening. And let me tell you, when you have an alien on your doorstep with the power to lay waste to your entire planet with his bare hands....you want to feel that he is completely trustworthy and safe. Cavill accomplishes this while maintaining an aura of strength and masculine virility I don't believe I've really seen in a super-hero movie. Fantastic casting. His onscreen chemistry with Amy Adams as Lois Lane is very strong as well. Lois in this film is played very smart, feisty, and an integral part of Clark's transition into mankind's modern-day savior.
For me, this is what the movie is all about. However, I know others want to know about things like General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the action sequences and other aspects. So, I'm going to touch on those. Let me start with the minor things and then build to the more important and then I'll address some of the criticisms I might have with some aspects.
|Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Amy Adams as Lois Lane|
|Russell Crowe as Jor-El|
|Antje Traue as Faora|
|Michael Shannon as Zod|
I think the film was structured very well for telling this story. It really did bring a new perspective and approach to the character that will hopefully clear out everyone's preconceptions a bit and open the door for a successful new franchise. There's a bit of a lull in the 2 1/2 hours between Clark's appearance on Earth and the appearance of Zod where the pacing gets a bit stilted. And Kevin Costner is so freaking depressing I couldn't wait for him to die. But other than that, I thought the movie was very good. It wasn't great. Picking up the pace a bit and adding a sense of humor to the proceedings would've pushed it to great. The Marvel Studios movies all have a strong sense of fun and humor to them and have just embraced the trappings of a world full of super-heroes. This film takes the subject seriously and recognizes that this is more than a super-hero movie. MAN OF STEEL is about crafting a myth for the modern day and it succeeds at established the first of the demigods pushed to his limits. Oh yeah, that reminds me of another aspect of this interpretation of Superman that I really enjoyed. He has to work at it. His strength and even his flying is a product of his will and determination — a reflection of the strength of character and goodness within him.
Yeah. I really enjoyed MAN OF STEEL, wish it had included more humor and fun, but I will be back to see it again probably this weekend or next week.
I give it ★★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★
(I know it's shallow but I would've given it ★★★★ but I'm punishing the filmmakers in my own immature way for not buying Michael Shannon better dentures so he could make his "s" sounds without making a distracting "sh" sound.)