Thursday, September 08, 2005

If Chris Made Comics: Sci-Fi/Adventure Edition

Faithful readers, welcome to part one of a semi-regular feature called "If Chris Made Comics". This is entirely my own rambling about comics that I want to read but that I don't think are out there. This is, if you will, me sitting on Santa's lap and telling St. Nick exactly what I want in a certain genre or title. And if that doesn't interest you, then come back when I've got more reviews instead. Kay? Kay.

Think of this as me assembling my dream comics using certain qualities that I know I want in them.

I was looking over my comics pile the other day, and I realized that something was missing. I loves me some superheroes --you all should know that by now-- but I also like to read the occasional mystery, horror, spy, fantasy or just plain weird comic as well. And one of my favorite genres --- comic or otherwise--- is science fiction. And therein lies the problem.

I want a melding, if you will, I want, dear friends (insert Kirby-esque font here) The Ultimate Science Fiction Adventure Comic, forthwith to be known as TUSFAC. (2 Guys Buying Comics also loves us some acronyms.)

See, I have certain expectations from TUSFAC. There should, of course, be two main components: science fiction, and adventure. Let's look at what I want in detail.


First off, it needs to have wicked as-yet-uninvented technology. Because cool-ass gizmos are a hallmark of good sci-fi, and bollocks to anyone who thinks otherwise. I want my gizmos, dammit, and they need to do cool things like disintegrate, teleport, and transmutate, and if it does all three, then hell, so much the better.

Second: it needs to be set in the future. I know, I know, not all good SF needs to be in the future, you can have modern or past settings, alternate histories, et bloody cetera, but this is my comic, and I want the future. I don't want steampunk (a perfectly respectable genre, but not my idea of SF), I don't want "the future" to be 3 friggin' days from now, I want 28th century kind of stuff. You know, not too far ahead to be completely unrecognizable, but far enough where you don't feel the need to explain everything that's happened between now and then, like the seventeen billion guvments and revolutions on Colony XIII or whatever.

Third, I need me some spaceships. Because another hallmark of good sci-fi is badass space battles, with lasers, photon torpedoes, whatever made-up name you want to call the bright shiny objects that make massive starships go boom. I want complex screen readouts detailing the nitrogen particles' effect on the alpha quadrant, and shit like that. I want a bridge. I want little fighters zipping around like mosquitoes with ADD (not Alan David Doane; I wouldn't wish that on mosquitoes, and he'd just tell them to go buy Black and White Navel Gazing FlipBook, Vol. 3 anyway).

That covers the Science Fiction aspect of TUSFAC. I'm a cheap date.


First, I need a Band of Heroes. The BOH can be anywhere in size from 2 to 7. I don't care if there's one major character and 6 minor, 3 major 3 minor, whatever. But I need to have a group of people going on these adventures together. It provides a cast we can get to know, and I want each member to have distinct qualities that they can use to get out of the undoubtedly precarious situations they'll be involved in.

I DO NOT want them to have superpowers. TUSFAC is not a superhero comic, so I want them to be regular people with gizmos and personalities and physical and mental qualities that happen to go on adventures. I repeat: NO CAPES.

Second: they need to actually adventure. I want episodic issues, where they encounter God knows what on Page One every time. I want this to be galaxy-spanning, far-reaching, planet-hopping, death-defying fun. And yes, fun is a vital component. I want a sense of wonder, a sense of "Oh my God, I cannot BELIEVE this shit is happening to me!" I want quests, I want exploration, I want perilous situations of the BOH's own making. I want, in short, adventure.

So, combine those qualities of Science Fiction and Adventure that I listed above, and you start to approximate TUSFAC.

I've bounced this idea off several of my personalities, and they keep suggesting titles on the market that I might like, such as:

  • Ultimate Fantastic Four, Legion of Superheroes, Rann-Thanagar War, Adam Strange-- Sorry, they violate the capes rule above (Adam Strange less so, know. If it were a monthly, as soon as sales dipped, there'd be a cameo by the JLA). And besides, reading Rann/Thanagar is like trying to find your way around a 30-story hospital.
  • Serenity, Star Wars: Republic, Star Wars: Empire---Yeah, that's fine and all, but I've seen the show and the movies, and I don't want a preexisting pile of continuity to worry about. Although, I must confess, the Firefly vibe comes pretty damn close to what I'm looking for.

So, dear readers, help me out: is there something out there that fits the bill? I should also add that I want it in color (because, Sin City notwithstanding, color is better 99% of the time in comics), I want a monthly (not a mini), and I want something I don't have to buy over Ebay---I should be able to order it from my LCS.

To sum it up, The Ultimate Science Fiction Adventure Comic should be:

Star Trek + Battlestar Galactica + Firefly + Buck Rogers + Flash Gordon + Fantastic Four + Indiana Jones

(In fact, just starting with Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon would probably be the logical way to approach this. Thanks to Jake's comments on my Conan #19 review below for the inspiration here.)

I know, it's a tall, mythical order. But it presses my geek buttons, and if I made comics, that's what I'd do.


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Blogger Chris said...

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2:03 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

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2:04 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

More 2000ad suggestions for you: Durham Red and Nikolai Dante.

Okay, both skirt dangerously close to breaking your "no supers" rule (Red is a vampire, although the concept isn't abused, and Dante is a normal bloke who's got a whizzy sentient rifle thingie), but they fulfil all your other criteria, and both have got amazing (colour) art.

I think collections are available for both via the deal 2000ad made with DC, but it's worth looking out for the British editions, which were published at the original size, rather than the US comic sized DC ones. Well worth checking out.

Also worth looking at is stuff from Europe. They don't shirk from their scifi comics over there. A good starting point is Sillage, translated into English as The Wake ; it features a Tarzan-esque jungle girl who's thrust into the middle of big space opera action. Good stuff.

8:53 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

(Scroll down a bit to get the background info on these.)

Nikolai Dante. Like Flash Gordon, only Russian, and a notorious womaniser.

Durham Red. Vampire awakened in the 34th Century to find herself worshipped as a god. Lots of shooting and big whizz-bang explosions and enormous starships. Lovely art.

And how could I forget Halo Jones? It's in black and white, so it breaks one of your rules, but it's ALAN MOORE doing space opera that centres around the most mundane pf protagonists. One of his greatest works, it's sadly unfinished, but still a great read. Get this and colour it in yourself if you have to. Essential reading.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

KG, again with the great suggestions. I'll definitely ask around about Halo Jones and Durham Red this week; I read some of Nikolai Dante during my 2000ad stint, and couldn't get a handle on what was what; perhaps I should read more.

Thanks again!

11:08 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Halo Jones is a must.

As for Nikolai Dante, I've only read the earlier stuff, so I don't know how it shapes up nowadays, but back then it was a stunning sweeping scifi epic with wonderful characters. Largely Earth-based, so not much space opera, but still good stuff.

The relationships get quite complex, so it's worth starting at the beginning if you can.

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