Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning (2009)

     I used to go to Star Trek conventions.  Not a lot, and I never made it to the big one in Anaheim – this would have been around 1991 – that had the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), but I guess I felt some need to express my fandom for Trek.  I read a few of the books.  I read the novelization of "Encounter at Farpoint" (1987, the pilot for TNG) was staying home from school one day.  I read Star Trek: The Next Generation – Survivors (1991), which I want to say was #4 in the series, but largely because I wanted more Tasha Yar.  My family bought some hard cover Trek novels – I remember only Star Trek: The Next Generation – Dark Mirror (1994) – that I never bothered to read.  I read 14 of the first 15 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), I assume in another effort to prove my level of fandom.  There were some good DS9 novels, and Peter David introduced a notion in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Siege (1993, #2 in the series) that was a rewarding running gag.  But even as I attended the conventions, I was much more interested in the Robotech and Star Wars merchandise I could not possibly find anywhere else...because there was no eBay or the like.
     I bring this up because I, at some point, moved beyond needing to prove how much I liked Trek.  I don't own all of the movies and have picked up none of the TV series (though that has as much to do with the original pricing than just deciding that I didn't need them).  I gave up on following the books, though that had a lot to do with the knowledge that I would always be well behind the curve if I wanted to start from the beginning.  I came to terms with accepting that I didn't need to be into the entirety of something in order to appreciate it.  And once I was aware of what it meant to be a fanboy, I was sure I was on the right path.
     One of the reasons to stick with the main product is because it is the most accessible.  The more compelling reason is because, unlike novels or comic books, the TV episodes, mini-series, and feature films are much more collaborative projects and seldom are giant departures from what made you love the show in the first place.  I was – and continue to be – a huge fan of Farscape (1999-2003).  But I could so without the comic books/graphic novels that I have read.
     Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning (2009) takes up the story soon after the end of the mini-series that was supposed to be the end of the story.  I've gone over most of this just a few days ago.  But instead of growing the story, The Beginning of the End of the Beginning seems to be an attempt to force as many of the characters into an overly complicated story.  There is something compelling about seeing Rygel prove that he has some skills, and that he may have some respect for his shipmates, but that is not enough to salvage this product. 
     First of all, the artwork is substandard.  Neither John nor Aeryn look like the actors who played the roles, and that is a problem (one that did not continue in the second comic series/graphic novel).  The action is so poorly portrayed that it would be utterly confusing without the characters commenting on what was happening.  And the detail is lacking.
     Second, the notion that characters need to be forced in to the story is getting very frustrating.  In this volume, Scorpius ends up working for Dominar Bishan.  Why?  I'm not asking for the story that Rockne S. O'Bannon put together to justify this, but why even introduce the idea?  On the TV show, it made sense to have aliens show up repeatedly, but in a galaxy or universe full of trillions of sentient beings, O'Bannon feels a need to keep the interactions tied-up in established characters.  That makes sense only if he is selling a product to fans who want to revisit these characters.  He should be moving the story forward, but I have a feeling such a notion would not be greeted as eagerly by the fans.  And by fan, I mean fanboy. 
     The Farscape graphic novels do little to no justice to the TV show.  They seem to exist as a means to draw money away from people who have a need to prove that they loved the show enough to buy them.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with that – support the things you love – but it feels like O'Bannon is abusing the goodwill of those who felt that there was something left unsaid when the planned Season Five was turned into only four hours of mini-series.
     If you are going to read one Farscape graphic novel, I would not recommend this. If you are going to read them all, then the quality won't matter.  That is the ultimate lesson for the fanboy.  That, at some point, quality needs to matter; it needs to be bigger than any sense of personal ownership of a property.  And The Beginning of the End of the Beginning is lacking in quality.

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