Writer: Scott Lobdell
Art & Colours: Ilias Kyriazis
Published by: IDW
Hmm, I knew I knew that title from somewhere… so, a comic-book mini-series related to the 1999 Star Trek spoof movie… I have to admit, my initial response was “why, exactly”? Now, I haven’t seen the movie, so I am in no position to comment on its quality or potential for continuation, but I certainly haven’t heard any clamouring for a comeback. Is this just another in a long line of bland comic-book licenses or does this series boldly go where few have gone before…?
OK, so a very brief summary of the premise: a fairly unashamed Star Trek parody, Galaxy Quest was supposedly the name of a television series originally aired in the 1970s and 80s, featuring the exploits of the crew of the space-ship NSEA Protector. Many years later, washed up and down on their luck, the original actors become embroiled in a real alien plot and use the experience of their acting roles to help save the universe.
# 1 appears to pick up several months or years later. From a linear perspective, Lobdell’s story is rather straightforward, though the recurring themes should appeal to fans of the source material; Galaxy Quest the TV show is back with a new movie, with expectations high for a blockbuster and a return to fame for the original cast and crew. The actors continue to have their own individual and interpersonal issues to deal with, but the future looks bright until hopes are dashed by the announcement of a competing series. Oh, and did no-one mention that there’s this ominous looking spaceship hovering overhead?
On this basis, then, this is a fairly straightforward movie sequel, with enough here to ensure that fans of the original will not be disappointed.
But what elevates this book above a simple movie spin-off is the range and quality of story techniques employed by the creators that really make the very best of the comic book medium, with enough insight and originality to make it interesting and accessible to the new reader.
Launched right into the heart of the action, the book starts at great pace onboard the Protector, and although it quickly becomes obvious that the dramatic effect holds throughout. Kyriazis’ innovative use of panelling plays havoc with the PDF preview version I read, but on the page it adds to heighten the drama and tension despite the rather (intentionally) silly dialogue.
After the initial action of the opening chapter, the rest of the book quietens down to some more conversational scenes, but this doesn’t dampen the vitality of Kyriazis’ artwork, which really does bring the ‘actors’ to life in every panel. His style perfectly fits the mix of humour and realism integral to the book – character movements are dynamic, their faces cartoon-ly expressive, and the settings believable and responsive. It may not suit all genres or all tastes, but there is some excellent synergy between art and story, including some innovative examples of page structure and layout.
Breaking the three act structure into specific chapters can in the wrong hands appear forced, or simply lazy, but here it works really nicely, providing three very distinct settings and overarching themes, that still manage to link through to the central story thread.
Lobdell still maintains the core critique and satire of popular culture and the nature of fandom which underpins the Galaxy Quest premise, while maintaining levity and excitement throughout – this doesn’t take itself too seriously and is definitely more fun adventure than sociology essay and all the better for it, but it is also intelligent and works on a number of levels.
In all honesty I really did not expect to be writing this, especially about a property based on a movie that I never had any desire whatsoever to see, but this is quite possibly the best non-superhero comic book I have read all year. Hopefully Lobdell and Kyriazis won’t disappoint in the rest of this series, and will be able to create something with longevity and originality that goes beyond the seemingly rather constrained premise of a spoof sci-fi film.