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Dynamite Entertainment

Dynamite 1

Written by Greg Pak and Drawn by Nigel Raynor

When last we left the crew of modern Galactica, a squadron of classic series Cylons was flying towards the ship under the watchful eye of Commander Adama. The “returners” resembling the dead loved ones of the fleet had been exposed as a Cylon plot to send a plague throughout the remainder of the human race. And Baltar was busy finding new and better ways to cover his ass. Now, we discover exactly how Adama has come to command those old Cylon relics, and the plot thickens as Sharon gets interrupted mid-download and we find out what happens when a duplicating entity… duplicates in an entirely different fashion.

No question, Pak and Raynor’s work on this title got off to a very slow start. It took until issue three for the story to really ramp up some speed and forward movement, and Raynor has looked uncomfortable at time in depicting the characters close enough to their screen counterparts to get across to the reader whom they’re supposed to be. But issue four really kicks the book into high gear, particularly with the addition of the classic Cylon models to the crew. Pak’s explanation is gifted in its thinking; the squadron is left over from before the original Cylon rebellion and still recognizes Colonial commands. Of course, not everyone feels comfortable with the toasters walking around the ship, least of all people like Colonel Tigh, who fought in the original wars. But Sharon may be in the most trouble, because the group is meant to kill other Cylons… and who knows when they’ll find her in her cell?

In issue five, you really start to see Raynor finding the characters on the page, and he also begins producing smoother pages. The characters have lost some of their earlier stiffness, and they move better through the panels. Ultimately, as the story improves (and the twist the book takes in issue five reads like it’s right out of Ron Moore’s playbook), it seems like Raynor grows with it. Solid stuff.

Marc Mason

Written by Rick Remender and Drawn by Carlos Rafael

Shot down on Sagittaron shortly after the initial Cylon revolt and wipeout of the colonies, Starbuck and Boomer fall in with a resistance group hoping to stay alive long enough to be rescued. Unfortunately, Apollo believes his friends to be dead, and the Galactica must keep moving in order to avoid the Cylon threat. But Colonial warriors don’t give up easy, even when the odds are stacked against them, so a bold plan is hatched in the hopes of getting the surviving humans off the planet and into the rag-tag fleet heading for a long-lost planet named Earth.

CLASSIC BATTLESTAR got off to the exact opposite start that the modern version did; Remender hit the ground running, and he really nailed the way the characters spoke and interacted. But I was a little less enamored of the following two issues, as he struggled to find a balance between the tone of the original series and the “Great Escape” sort of tale he’s trying to tell.

Part of the problem comes from the Sagittarians that Starbuck and Boomer meet on the surface; very little is done to present them as deep characters, rather than people gathered from central casting. There’s the tough girl (for Starbuck to charm) leading the group, the older gentleman who preaches calm and wisdom, the hothead who thinks that everything is a trick, and the little girl who has lost her mother in the attacks that we’re meant to sympathize with. I enjoy the classic type of story being told here, but I wish more effort had been made to fill it with cannon fodder I could genuinely invest in as a reader.

The brightest spot of the book is the equal focus on Starbuck and Boomer. Herb Jefferson was generally relegated to sidekick duty in the series, so seeing the character get his due here is a treat. The art by Rafael slyly reminds of comics from the original Galactica’s era, and the painted covers from Dave Dorman continue to delight. It then remains to be seen if Remender can pull the story back together and deliver a stirring climax to match the potential he showed in issue one.

Marc Mason

Written by Brandon Jerwa and Drawn by Adriano Batista

The world of licensed comics is a tricky one, especially when dealing with a popular and current property. Certainly, it is rare for any tale of lasting substance to be told, as the original show or movie is more likely to want to tell those stories. So ZAREK registers as an enormous surprise, a story that takes one of GALACTICA’s central supporting characters and not only explores his childhood and background, but also explores the origins of the first Cylon revolt that took place over forty years before the series began.

Tom Zarek has been one of the more intriguing characters on the show since his first appearance. When first we met him, he was in prison, having blown up a government building in a terrorist act. But he was also shown to be a hero to many, a man who refused to cow to a corrupt and evil regime. One man’s terrorist being another’s freedom fighter, etc. What Jerwa’s script explores is exactly why he became that man. Zarek’s homeworld of Sagittaron was one of the key providers of goods to the other colonies when he was a child, but it was at the expense of the working population basically being slaves. In fact, it was the eventual push to end that slavery that caused humans to build robot workers and servants… even if it didn’t take long for those robot slaves to rise up.

Sadly for Zarek, his parents, being people of conscience, refused to accept the status quo and spoke out against the government, the corrupt businesses, and more. But like with so many that speak out, they put their lives at risk from those in power, and the fallout will form a path for their son’s future.

Brandon Jerwa is a friend, and when he started describing this book to me last July, I admit I had my doubts. He was intensely enthusiastic, but you can’t always trust that, no matter the source; for instance, Mark Millar seems to believe that everything he cranks onto the page is the greatest work since Shakespeare, and he hasn’t written anything worth reading in years. But ZAREK is an intense, personal piece of work, and the best work I’ve seen from Brandon to date. And the fact that he was allowed to give this much background and detail to a character still being seen on Sunday nights is remarkable. If you’re a fan of GALACTICA, this is even more of a must-read than the main book.

Marc Mason

Written and Drawn by Timothy Truman

Joining Checker’s recent release of THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS, Dynamite has rescued another 80s classic and brought it back to print in Tim Truman’s SCOUT. Truman, who has made a name for himself on John Ostrander’s GRIMJACK, followed his muse to his own creation, a bleak tale of America’s bloated future and the Apache Indian determined to purge at least some of the evil that has beset the nation.

Unlike many dystopian future stories, Truman’s apocalypse was an economic one, not nuclear. In his vision, America has lost allies due to financial pressures and border issues, destroying the economy and sending even the middle class down a poverty spiral from which there is little recovery. This has also left the government open to far-right religious and economic leaders who have usurped the country’s agenda for their own horrific purposes. In short, Tim Truman’s picture of the apocalypse twenty years ago has turned out to be a lot more prescient than just about anyone else who was writing or drawing at the time.

Scout himself is a former military operative who has returned to his people and his roots. But when his spirit guide tells him of his life’s mission and purpose, he must return to the shattered society he left behind to destroy monsters masquerading as men and leading the country down a path of death and deceit. Among those men are the nation’s biggest pornographer, the Secretary of Agriculture… and the President of the United States himself. So the job won’t be easy.

In an interview printed at the back of the book, Truman laments looking at some of his earlier work, as it lacks the polish of his current material. Certainly, Truman is three times the artist now than he was then- the cover of this book proves it. But even at a time where he was still developing his craft, you can see the seeds of the talent he was to become. These twenty-year old issues of SCOUT look better than some of the stuff being produced by young artists today, and people who have tried to make a living by aping “hot” artists and made crap in the process could do worse than to pick up this book and see what creativity and energy really look like. Truman put together something truly unique and inventive for its time, and as it turns out, its time is still now.

Marc Mason

Written by Christopher Lawrence
Published by Dynamic Forces

The truth about legends and masters is that they are rarely given their proper due while they still live. The most genuine accolades tend to come after they have passed on and left us, our words scrambling to find a way to measure their legacies. But thanks to writer Christopher Lawrence, George Perez will not be one of those giants who never hear the applause.

STORYTELLER gives us Perez in all his glory and at his lowest lows, combining heavy doses of biographical information with a strong chronology of his comics career, from his early work on MAN-WOLF to his rise to superstardom with TEEN TITANS to his nadirs with Tekno and the Ultraverse to his return to superstardom with Kurt Busiek on THE AVENGERS. And unlike many biographical pieces, Perez’ warts are on display; plenty of room is handed over to the period in his career when he struggled to finish projects and how that damaged his career (INFINITY GAUNTLET being one high-profile example).

But what captivates most, of course, is the material about his work on TEEN TITANS and AVENGERS. Throw in his work on JLA/AVENGERS, and those three books are more than plenty to make sure Perez will have a place in the Hall of Fame when he calls it a day. The book is liberally drenched in the man’s art as well, illustrating the points being made in the text, and overtly demonstrating just what makes the man so damned good at what he does. Looking at some of his earliest work, you can see the germ of greatness laying there in his panels, and as the book goes forward and the art gets newer, it blossoms before your eyes; if you took away the text of the book and left only the pictures, you would still see Lawrence’s narrative point, and vice versa.

Packaged in a nice hardcover, this is an excellent book for the longtime comics fan or for a younger person considering a career in the field. Either reader will find something worthy and captivating in these pages.

Marc Mason

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