Thursday, September 01, 2011

Good Comics - Farscape

Alright, enough with the soul-bearing and complaining about the crap, let's get on with the good comics!

BOOM's Farscape comic is a guilty pleasure for me - it's a layer-cake of nostalgia that I enjoy despite its flaws, but marvel at when it gets it right.

Farscape remains one of my favorite TV shows of all time and perhaps the best space opera ever put out by the Sci-Fi network (sorry BSG fans - but you know I'm right). It was innovative, intelligent, rapid-paced, and fun entertainment that holds up to rewatching years later (as I learned when I rewatched the series this past winter). The comic series picks up after the events of the "Peacekeeper Wars" miniseries, and deals with the ongoing adventures of the crew of the Leviathan Moya, past and present.

First, let's dispense with the problems of the comic series. It is definitely a series written towards the longtime fans of the TV series and not for the casual reader. Much like the TV series it was based on, it's an ongoing story that is constantly building, and all-too often impenetrable to a new audience. The current storyline, concerning a giant cosmic war, seems at times to be an element external to the rest of the series - the antagonists were never introduced in the TV run, and are massively powerful and resourceful - if it weren't for the fact that series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon is helming the comic, one would think it fanfiction. There also hasn't been much opportunity for the slapstick (and occasionally crude) humor the show was known for (although as always, Rygel manages to pull through, as displayed in the posters here).

O'Bannon (with co-writer Keith R.A. DeCandido) presents other challenges, many of them specific to the medium of comics. For one, without the kinetic motion of a TV series, usually with a decent musical score, space battles can often seem static and boring on a comic page without a truly talented artist. Another distinction in the transfer from TV to comics is the loss of the "multiple cast members yelling at each other simultaneously" - one of the more enjoyable and realistic dialogue tics from the TV series. The art for the series is perfectly workmanlike - it captures the likenesses of the characters adequately, but occasionally feels a bit stiff and static.

The good news is that if you're a Farscape fan, well, this is definitely for you. The characters are very much as you remember them, and it is easy to hear their dialogue given in the voices of the actors who portrayed them (particularly Ben Browder and Claudia Black). Unlike a new fan, you'll have no trouble at all catching up on the events that have occurred after "The Peacekeeper Wars" and the changes will no doubt surprise and excite you. It's a good fix of what you've been missing. This is Farscape in its high space-opera mode, and you know all the hilarity and high-stakes drama you are anticipating? It's there, and then some.

Oh and Scorpius is there.

So while I can't in good conscience recommend the Farscape comic series for a new reader (unless you are brave enough to do the homework - but you'll be happy you did!), it's definitely recommended for Farscape fan who can't find any good space opera anywhere else (and what's up with that? Didn't there used to be good space opera TV shows? And maybe a comic or two out there? Yeesh...that's sad).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“Someone’s fanfiction” is exactly right, only I would’ve said that about the whole thing and would’ve added that it’s a poor fanfiction. Don’t let Mr. O’Banon’s name on it intimidate you - serialized story telling knows many examples of when people involved in production of great series produced continuations that weren’t as good, to say the least. I’m a Farscape fan for 10 years, and I didn’t find any of the things I liked this series for in this comic book – no character complexity and development, no smart storytelling. On the other hand I did find authors ignore years of character development and sometimes core traits in order to make them say/do/feel things they needed for their plots to work, degrading characters to stereotypes. That imo isn’t a smart storytelling. That's not even a good writing.