Friday, August 22, 2014

Review - Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #1

"We never expected to see him or his Cylonic Knights again..."

Battlestar Galactica deftly wove stories about intergalactic politics with humanity-hating robots mixed in for good measure. It's a pretty solid look at the human condition, set centuries into the future. The question surely on everyone's mind is whether or not those concepts would hold up centuries in the past. Dynamite Entertainment thinks they have the answer in Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #1. The issue is written by Tony Lee, illustrated by Aneke, colored by Alex Starling and lettered by Marshall Dillon.

Cylons are destroying Carpica. What makes these Cylons unique is that they've been created by Baltar and they just so happen to be steam-powered. Admiral Adama is forced into retreat, but not before losing Apollo to the enemy. Athena seeks out the help of Starbuck to find the missing prince, while Baltar has some rather grand ambitions for his new steam-powered army. And it's got a healthy does of everything that makes Battlestar tick, including spaceship fights, political intrigue and robots. Lots and lots of robots.

Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #1 is going to be very familiar to fans of Battlestar Galactica. Why? Because it basically tells a story that's been told numerous times before in that mythos, with the exception this time being that everything is steampunk. Lee does an admirable job telling that story and the pace is incredibly fast at first before tapering down so a story can unfold. He essentially opens up the issue with destruction and despair, which sets the tone of the series immediately as the familiar pessimism on the part of humanity that Battlestar Galactica thrives on. And the aforementioned players are all here, striking a chord of familiarity in the reader if the've delved into this universe prior to this comic.

Adding a steampunk twist is more than just corsets, monocles and steam; it's also adding a sensibility to the world that transports the reader to a different era. Aneke does a decent job of conveying this concept towards the end of the book, when Athena encounters Starbuck. The first part of the book doesn't really feel steampunk though and part of that is likely attributed to the fact that it's difficult to take a property like Battlestar Galactica that's so far in the future and fling it so far backwards in time. The characters feel like the best representation of the steampunk aspect of the title, with Admiral Adama sporting an older uniform and Athena in the requisite corset.

Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #1 is aimed at a very specific audience: Battlestar Galactica fans. The issue is so steeped in that mythos that new readers will really have no idea as to what's going on, largely because it's not really meant to be an introduction to the universe. That's not really to fault Lee, as he writes a pretty solid story that fits well within the Battlestar Galactica universe. Aneke's illustrations do a good job showcasing all the destruction and action, but feels a little lacking in the steampunk department. Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #1 is a book that is pretty good at what it sets out to be, but it seems as if the audience for that will be pretty niche.

Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 #1 is in stores now.


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