The year is 1999 and a rogue planet passes through our Solar System. Astronomers have received radio signals –- evidence, finally, of intelligence life other than our own in the void of space –- and a manned mission to investigate it will launch within days from Earth’s international Moonbase Alpha. Or will it?
Space: 1999, the cult favorite TV series starring Martin Landau, has been given new life in the form of a smart, interesting, and beautiful comic book series from publisher Archaia. The first issue (or rather episode) of Space: 1999 — Aftershock & Awe has been released digitally with a collected print version to follow later this year.
Instead of ‘rebooting’ the concept, writer Andrew Gaska celebrates the original by closely adapting the screenplay for the first episode of the series. Think of it as an extended cut. Artist Danny Miki has delivered a pulp, 70’s sci-fi style and modeled his characters after the show’s actors.
Not a page goes by without an abundance of text in the form of insightful narrative logs from multiple characters, and smart mature dialogue from men, women, and computers. There’s a lot to read and it’s all very serious.
The result is pure textbook science fiction. A view of the future that never was, but could still be.
The first issue, the 28-page Aftershock and Awe, Part I, begins with a teaser. Two astronauts on the Moonbase investigate a Waste Disposal Area filled with radioactive material. But something goes terribly wrong! One man dies, leaving the other panicked.
Cue the opening credits, which in this case is the title page of the issue. Any fan of the show will enjoy how it reads like an opening sequence of a TV show: MOON TORN OUT OF ORBIT… HURLED INTO SPACE.
With any fiction, there’s usually suspension of disbelief. Let us simply accept the implausibility of the premise and dig into the meat of this issue, which is filled with spacesuits, shuttlecraft (catch the Apollo 11 reference), and deadly post-WWIII nuclear waste.
John Koenig, our intrepid hero, arrives on Moonbase Alpha to take command from the previous man-in-charge, Commander Gorski. A virus has struck the manned mission to Planet Meta and the whole operation is in jeopardy. Upon arriving and meeting past colleagues and new faces, Commander Koenig quickly determines that something is awry.
The previous Commander can’t wait to get off the Moon and back to Earth, while the attractive Doctor Russell states that her diagnosis of the virus was kept secret! Men are dying without explanation after literally going violently insane.
This is not your typical sci-fi comic book. It’s a slow-burn style mystery — on the Moon. Koenig is also not your typical hero. He’s a forward-thinking, careful man of science (and a very unattractive one, at that). Which is why — when things are going very wrong for the men, women, and children on this Moon base — his colleague Dr. Bergman states:
John Koenig is the man for the job. He’s going to direct the smartest, brightest team of people in the Solar System to find the answers. But don’t let it cross your mind he won’t pick up a laser and blast someone, though.
As this series progresses, expect even more unbelievable circumstances and ludicrous encounters. What will bring us back for more is the commitment of these men and women to comprehend what they experience. I’m happy to be hurled out into space with them. Perhaps Koenig himself puts it best:
“Moonbase Alpha’s strength is in the people who operate her. Not only do they serve as exemplary scientists and engineers, but they constantly seek to know the unknown.
They are explorers.”
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