Thursday, September 13, 2007

Comic Book Flashback # 7: Battlestar Galactica (1978)

"Thousands of years ago, colonies were established throughout the universe by a mother race from the far reaches of the universe...a race known as -- human. Now, in the seventh millennium of time, a solemn and dramatic event is taking place...A peace envoy representing the twelve known colonies of man moves through space in hopes of bringing to a close a thousand-year-war..."
-Opening narration from Marvel's Battlestar Galactica comic (1978)

This is the "Marvel Super Special!" in "Full Marvelcolor!", a "Special Collector's Edition!" (Boy, someone at Marvel sure liked exclamation points back in the day...) In more specific terms, for $1.50, fans of Battlestar Galactica could read and enjoy this over-sized "official adaptation of the television sensation!"

Based on the three-hour "Saga of a Star World" by Glen A. Larson - the series premiere - this adaptation is written by Roger McKenzie and drawn by Ernie Colon. As with many comics of the age, this four-color version of a popular TV show is fascinating primarily in the way it differs from the broadcast material. Specifically, some of the ship and character designs are very different from the now-familiar versions fans remember. For instance, Baltar does not resemble John Colicos whatsoever in the comic, but is instead a bald, hulking figure, almost alien in appearance (like Klaus Kinski as Nosferatu). Sire Uri (portrayed by the late Ray Milland in the TV version) is here depicted in a strange way too: as an overweight, hoggish figure. Yes, he actually resembles a pig.

Story-wise, the comic also reflects Baltar's original fate, before it was altered to make the traitor a regular character on the series. As fans will recall, in the movie version (which played in theaters internationally), this original (and grim) fate was restored: A Cylon Centurion slit Baltar's throat at the behest of the Imperious Leader. In accordance with that original material (not the TV show), the comic features a Cylon murdering the man and depicts Baltar's bloodied (slit...) throat and a sword dripping blood. Interestingly, the scene is set "in a shadowed chamber somewhere on a hellhole known as Cylon." Even in the filmed version of the material, it occurs on a Cylon base ship, not a planet.

Perhaps most significantly, Caprican reporter Serina (Jane Seymour in the film) is in the comic book referred to as Lyra, and she is suffering from a fatal space malady that will soon take her life (a plot point adopted for the Laura Roslin character in the re-imagination). The last page of this comic edition sees Lyra begging Captain Apollo "Please, Apollo, no questions! Just whatever happens...promise me you'll look after Boxey."

I remember taking this comic-book with me on a six-week cross-country road trip in 1979, when I was nine years old. I must have read it a million times (that, and a comic-book version of the original King Kong film that I found in a Ben Franklin store in Wisconsin). In addition to the comic-book adaptation, the Battlestar Galactica super spectacular features portraits of Starbuck, Ovions, Commander Adama and Muffit, as well as a variety of articles by Tom Rogers. These included "Life in the Future," "Battle Tactics," "Spaceships and Such: Hardware Of the Future," and "Aliens and Robots." The comic also features a piece called "The Wizard of Hollywood's Dream Factory," an interview with special effects artist John Dykstra by Steve Swires.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Dear John,
    If you've never seen it, I highly recommend the 1964 movie "H.G. Wells' FIRST MEN IN THE MOON" with special effects by Ray Harryhausen. When the crew reaches the moon (in the year 1890!) they are quickly attacked and captured by ant-like aliens called Selenites. The Selenites (and their honeycombed civilization) is **remarkably** (suspiciously?) similar to Battlestar Galactica's OVIONs! Even the design of the sliding doors in the Selenite cave is reminiscent of the design of the doors in the OVION cave! The sound the sliding doors make when they open is similar as well. In one scene, the elderly scientist is granted an "audience" with the Selenite Ruler--much like the scene in Battlestar Galactica when Apollo and the others have an "audience" with the Ovion Ruler. In the same respect, much of the plot and thrust of FIRST MEN IN THE MOON is reminiscent of early episodes of DOCTOR WHO (an elderly scientist and two companions--one male, one female--traveling through space in a make-shift contraption and encountering bizarre alien lifeforms). Take care--FRED