I was only two years old when the pilot episode of Space:1999 aired back in 1975, so I don’t remember much. However, if I were to ask my dad, an avid sci-fi buff and proud Trekkie, about the show, I bet he could talk in length about the premise and its complexities and lastly, why the hell that show ever stopped airing. Although I don’t remember much about the seventies, there were things that stuck in my mind, most being things related to television/film, in particular fantasy and science fiction television and film. Having been raised a military brat on Hawaii, we didn’t get some of the mainland shows, so we watched the little we did, mixed in with Kaiju shows from Japan dubbed to English. But U.S. shows like Sid and Marty Krofft‘s Land of The Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers and yes, Space:1999 we did get, and they were welcome editions to weeknights on the big island. Years later. Archaia Entertainment, being the masters of retro science fiction collections that they are, have picked up the rights to Space: 1999 and are presenting it to a whole new generation of nerds.
Synopsis: The classic 1970s sci-fi TV series returns with all-new material! September 13, 1999: An atomic accident causes the moon to be blown out of orbit and hurled into the unknown, the survivors of the lunar base stationed there launched toward their destiny across the stars. In the wake of this disaster, Earth itself is ravaged by the scientific, environmental, and social repercussions of a world robbed of its moon. Presenting remastered classic material from the ’70s with all-new material created to update the tale for a modern audience.
For someone seeing all this with fresh eyes, I’m blown away. If this graphic reads like the series did, I may have to see if the entire season can be purchased. It is that good and really groundbreaking for the time. The series is split into two books: Awe (essentially the original pilot episode) and Aftershock.
Aftershock, which follows nine lives that are forever changed by the carnage left in the moon’s wake. Told from the point of view of those left behind on a ravaged Earth, Aftershock explores the scientific, environmental, and socio-political repercussions of a world left with no moon.
Both of these books are meant to give you the setup for the impending disaster, the disaster and then the effects of the disaster to the Earth. It’s really well-written and very plainly stated. It never gets too technical, which can sometimes turn off a non-Asimov-fan of science fiction. I am of the opinion that it’s this style of writing that contributed to the shows success, and that is why having writer Andrew Gaska (Conspiracy of the Planet of The Apes) take on this project makes a hell of a lot of sense. Remember when I mentioned Buck Rogers awhile back? Well, Andrew is busy adapting Buck Rogers in the 25th Century into a graphic novel too…just thought I’d mention that.
The first issue is complete retro eye candy, legendary artist Gray Morrows‘ (Tarzan, Heavy Metal) work is unprecedented. Like going to Disney’s Tomorrowland in the eighties, it’s pure Zeerust (the particular kind of datedness which afflicts things that were originally designed to look futuristic). Each panel is a masterpiece to behold, complete with bell-bottom pants on all the characters. The ships are exactly how I remembered them, all packed and looking pretty in the toy stores—which reminds me, I remember seeing a Space:1999 board game at the thrift store. For all its genius in the “Awe”, the story gets kind of modern in Aftershock. The first thing you notice is the artwork, which goes from classic to sort of simple. Miki (Conspiracy of the Planet of The Apes) and David Hueso (Terminator: Salvation) seemed to be taking a more movie approach to the AS that takes the classic away from it. Most who look at this won’t be affected as much as I was, but it just didn’t do it for me. The images looked more or less like photographs that had been painted on, except for the first few pages of AS…which I did enjoy. There needed to be more consistency in the art department. Completely trading up the look and feel of the original for this oil-painted style of realism was a horrible idea and one that could ultimately kill them. The real draw for me to read this, other than receiving an email from Archaia, was feeling like I was reading a classic, and although the story was there for the most part, the art wasn’t.
The point of view of AS made total sense, seeing as how that element of the story was left out of the first issue. I don’t know whether or not what happened to Earth was left out of the TV series, but that story needed to be explained and was done fairly well. I could’ve done without the references to the apocalypse, but hey…that’s me.
Space:1999 is a classic! This graphic is a classic only because they choose to make the source material about a television series that spoke volumes about our world in the seventies. The climate during that time, although good, was facing many decisions as the cold war crept in and yet another threat of nuclear attack was on the horizon. This is one of those books that deserves to be on the shelf of any nerd’s home, right next to their bootlegged copy of Buckaroo Banzai. Now, that’s a worthwhile endeavor—Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League. Make that check payable to me. I want more of this series, but I hope they can bring back those elements of the original to the new stuff.