Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesdays with Mollari

Hello Readers Mine! After yet another hiatus, I have returned! (Seriously, you should follow me on the various medias of sociability if you want daily doses of me. Linkage to the top right of this page.) This week, I thought I'd take a closer look at a sometimes disparaged part of Babylon 5's groundbreaking transmedia storytelling: the Babylon 5 comics!

Babylon 5 numbers 1 - 11, DC Comics, 1994-1995.
As season 2 of Babylon 5 kicked off, so too did the briefly-lived regular Babylon 5 comic book series from DC. Issue 1, "In Darkness Find Me" was written by Straczynski, while issues 2 - 8 and 11 were plotted by JMS with Mark Moretti and Tim DeHaas fleshing things out. Issues 9 and 10 were scripted by David Gerrold, and are considered only semi-canonical, but feature Garibaldi and G'Kar in a race against mechanical death which requires them to sacrifice their clothing a piece at a time, so you don't want to miss 'em.

The comics fill in some important gaps in the larger B5 plot, and also connect with some of the canonical novels. Issues 1 -4 detail Sinclair's adventures on Earth after his recall, and during his first few months as Earth's ambassador to Minbar, with issue 1 taking place between "Crysalis" (1.22) and "Points of Departure" (2.01) and 3-4 between "Revelations" (2.02) and "The Geometry of Shadows" (2.3). The events in this first comic arc also ties into the canonical novel To Dream in the City of Sorrows, by Kathryn M. Drennan, who also wrote the episode "By Any means Necessary" (1.12), and was married to Straczynski from 1983 - 2002.

Issues 5-8 take place before "The Coming of Shadows" (2.09), and provide details about Garibaldi's first meeting with Sinclair and more details about his encounter with the Shadow vessels on Mars as seen in "Messages from Earth" (3.08). Issue 11 "Silent Enemies" even drops a bit of foreshadowing about the horrific past of Talia Winters, the culmination of which is revealed in "Divided Loyalties" (2.19). The details surrounding Garibaldi's first encounter with Shadow vessels is especially interesting as the issues were published between 5 and 8 months before "Messages from Earth" first aired, though the episode may well have been plotted/written/in production at the time JMS plotted the comics. Straczynski's famous long-rage plotting of B5 again allowed him to take advantage of transmedia storytelling in ways that broadened the canon and deepened the story, making the comics canon, rather than the usual licensed-but-unofficial storytelling common in the comic adaptations of SF shows like Battlestar Galactica (the original series) and Star Wars.

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales mini-comic.
Besides DC's monthly series, in 1998 JMS also wrote the first issue and plotted the rest (with Peter David completing the scripts) of the three-issue miniseries In Valen's Name, which takes place after "Into the Fire" (4.06) and recounts the final fate of Babylon 4 and fills in some of the history of Valen and the previous Shadow War. Finally, in 2007, a special mini-comic, "Beyond the Rim," was released with the Babylon 5: The Lost Tales DVD when purchased from Best Buy. "Beyond the Rim" is a kind of tribute to Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin) and Andreas Katsulas (G'kar), and recounts the galaxy-spanning adventures of the two men after the time of Babylon 5 and between G'Kar's return from deep space with Lyta Alexander, but before his final meeting with Londo on Centauri Prime.

On a side note, I was able to get a really great deal on the floppies of both the monthly DC series and In Valen's Name (thanks Atomik Comiks!), but I have as yet been unable to acquire a copy of the Lost Tales mini-comic. So if you have one you might be willing to part with for a reasonable price, let me know!)

The Babylon 5 comics are thus not a side-note, but an integral part of the Babylon 5 universe that allowed JMS to greatly expand his overall narrative, and bring new stories to fans who remain hungry for more tales to this day. Who knows, with talk of a big-screen B5 reboot, and JMS's own award-winning comic writing experience, we may yet be treated to a further expansion of the four-color canon. I certainly hope so. Until then, and until next time -

Hold the Line!

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