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In 1978, following the incredible success of “Star Wars”, ABC debuted their stab at space opera, Battlestar Galactica. Though the series was initially successful, it also was mind-bogglingly expensive, and probably too derivative of “Star Wars” to differentiate itself. But over time, it has built a following, serving as the inspiration for a critically acclaimed reimagining that outshone its source material. Now, things have come full circle, as writer Cullen Bunn and penciler Alex Sanchez deliver Battlestar Galactica #1, continuing the adventures of the original 1978 series. And though nostalgia is responsible for this new series, the debut issue effectively delivers a compelling opener that reintroduces fans old and new to the concept and characters while taking the ragtag fleet into new territory.
As the issue opens, the Galactica finds itself heading into danger as they suddenly find themselves in literally uncharted territory. One way in which the 1978 series (and its reboot as well) differentiated itself from “Star Wars” was its bleak and occasionally repairing tone. Though Commander Adama was an inspiring leader, his crew and the fleet that followed them were on journey that promised only the barest flicker of hope. Underlying the B-movie pulp cheesiness of the series was the fact that these people were all that remained of their civilization, and they were heading into deep space with only legend and folklore to guide them. Cullen Bunn is a writer that enjoys delving into some that darkness, as well as exploring the pseudo-mystical mumbo-jumbo that often flickered around the edges of the concept. This issue relies just as much on prophetic vision as it does space opera, and the mysteries the issue sets up serve to intrigue the reader and draw them back for at least another issue.
I see another strength in how Bunn settles right into the continuity of the series. As someone familiar with the show, I know the characters and their relationships well, so jumping into a story with little to no exposition beyond the central concept didn’t bother me. However, I wonder if people coming to this book with no knowledge of the original series, even if they’ve seen the reboot, will enjoy it as easily. I do think that Bunn is opting to get the ball rolling rather than spend the debut issue establishing tons of backstory, and I think that decision is to the issue’s benefit. What remains to be seen is whether or not the various mysteries he sets up here will tie together, but for a first issue, it does the job of hooking you in.
The art by Alex Sanchez is solid, as well. His sketchy, scratchy style takes a little getting used to, but it fits the somehow earthy but otherworldly feel of the series. The characters look a bit off at times, rendered too sketchily here and there to feel like you can easily distinguish between say, Apollo and Starbuck. Hopefully that will improve as time goes on. But on the whole, I thought Sanchez’ art, combined with the colors by Daniela Miwa, echoed the source material while providing the issue with atmosphere that feels unique for a science-fiction space opera property.
Though Battlestar Galactica #1 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it does provide a strong opening issue for the series, eschewing the cheesiness of the 1970’s show by giving it a contemporary feel without losing the charm of the source material. I’m giving it a warm 7.5/10.