Comic Review: Independence Day #1

When word spread that a new Independence Day movie was in the works, the geeky kid in me thrust a fist in the air in celebration. Sure every movie has its faults, but very few hit the mark of fandom with raw entertainment that allows the audience to dismiss reality and simply allow the audience to be immersed into a fun story. ID4 does that. And with the sequel Independence Day: Resurgence coming out in June, after only a twenty year wait, what could be better?

ID4 COVER A - Movie CoverHow about a new comic? The first issue (1 of 5), Independence Day #1 is scheduled to come out tomorrow on March 23, 2016 from Titan Comics. Written by Victor Gischler (Sally of the Wasteland) with artwork from Steve Scott (Batman, X-men), the future of the ID4 franchise looks brighter than ever.

They say humanity had twenty years to prepare. But Independence Day #1 shows us why the celebration began way too early, and twenty years may not be enough.

The story takes place shortly after the events in the original 1996 film created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. As the giant crafts fall from the sky following the destruction of the alien mothership, a lone functioning extraterrestrial vessel unlike any others plummets into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. This mysterious occurrence prompts a top secret investigation with hopes to prevent a repeat of the recent destruction.

Cover B by Dio Neves
Cover B by Dio Neves

Three powerful characters highlight this first issue.

First, we meet Captain Meredith of an unnamed ballistic missile submarine. Chosen because of its conveniently close proximity to the downed craft as well as a platoon of marines specializing in advanced deep-water diving, the captain is more manly than most officers in her position and it is clear from the start that the safety of her crew and ship are more important than confronting an unknown entity.

The flawed hero of the story is Captain Joshua Adams of US intelligence, a heavily awarded army officer who happens to have a fear of water following a tragic boating accident that took his sister. Having the most experience with the technology used to take down the mothership and most suited to face this new threat, Adams’ vulnerability gives authenticity to a character that would have seemed too archetypical otherwise.

Cover C by Lee Garbett
Cover C by Lee Garbett

Dr. Jessica Morgan is the attractive leader of the mission. As a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology, she seems the most out of place aboard the sub, but it is unclear at this time if her influence will be a hindrance or a benefit.

The quality artwork by Steve Scott stands up to the visual specter we’ve come to appreciate in the original film and expect in the new one. Readers will be drawn into the stunning imagery as if they were sitting in front of the big screen. The rough seas come to life and the dark depths below the surface give an eerie feel to the scenes, bringing even more tension to Gischler’s already fast moving thriller.

In what could be a spoiler to the upcoming film, the Captain Joshua Adams character displays a remarkable likeness to the actor William Fichtner who also happens to play the role of a one General Adams in IDR. A thorough biography of the character is in the introduction of issue #1 along with an image of the actor in the role of the General. There are two important points here. One, we can probably assume the Captain comes out of this adventure unscathed or relent to the fact that the comics and movies may rely on alternate realities. And two, the talent of Adams to bring flesh actors into the comic pages with unabashed certainty is evidence of his talent.

Cover D by John McCrea
Cover D by John McCrea

In true comic book form, what would a collector issue be without alternate covers. The uncredited patriotic front image of an alien ship preparing to fire its primary weapon as aircraft race in is described as the “Movie Cover,” which is more than fitting seeing how the original film is what started it all. Cover B, which has an alien face (do they have a name?) peering over the curvature of the Earth, is by artist Dio Neves. The piercing image of a suited alien breaking through a wall that makes up Cover C was drawn by Lee Garbett and the image of an underwater encounter by artist John McCrea, which is more representative of what is inside the first issue, is Cover D.

Interior art by Steve Scott
Interior art by Steve Scott

To go along with the blockbuster theme established in the original film, this first issue kicks off with a big bang as Gischler dives right in with some spectacular action worthy of an archetypical hero’s introduction. In what feels like taking a page from another fantastic blockbuster, our main characters are brought together during a horrific storm “somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean” as the submarine surfaces momentarily to accept the investigators who are dropped from a helicopter. A similar feat was done in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, and this comic attempt is just as daunting.

Victor Gischler and Steve Scott have done a fantastic job of reviving the tension and patriotism of the original film. So as we celebrate our Independence Day #1, rest assured that next month’s issue #2 (Unto the Breach) should have even more fireworks.

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  1. ugh…”the captain is more manly than most officers in her position”, and “Dr. Jessica Morgan is the attractive leader of the mission”??? Did YOU write this, or is this the blurb on the ads for it? How regressive.

      1. Thank you so much for pointing this out, your concerns are greatly appreciated. This post was not intended to offend anybody or express any archaic ideals – and any captions not quoted or sited in the review are on me.

        I guess a little insight may be applicable. Having watched the film, The Hunt for Red October, just minutes before sitting down to write the review (the credits were still rolling), many more comparisons came to mind than just the aforementioned stormy helicopter scene. I really enjoyed the captain character in this comic – more so than the captain played by Scott Glenn in Red October. And at first, I wasn’t sure why. Admittedly, the film is one of my favorites (along with Ice Station Zebra, next on my viewing schedule). Oddly, and hopefully not a reflection on my choices, the movie is predominantly made up of male actors with only a few secondary female roles. Along with this sad realization, it dawned on me that I liked the comic character more because of her strength and dedication to her crew regardless who opposed her, unlike Glenn’s character who struggled with uncertainty and was easily manipulated by Alec Baldwin’s Jack Ryan character with little to no repercussions. The comparison in the sentence you sited was intended to be focused more on straight up character contrast, but the gender discrepancy in the film casting did lend to the intrusive verbiage.

        Having been described as being “too wordy” at (many) times, I always try my darnedest to pare things down whenever possible. Unfortunately, this can also lead to the trap of throwing away darlings in favor of words that are less expressive and occasionally more vulgar. Obviously “manly” was one of those word choices, influenced unintentionally by my upsetting epiphany that Red October had an all-male cast. This occurrence will be noted for future work.

        As for describing the attractiveness of Dr. Jessica Morgan’s character, this again falls on the cost of trying not to be too wordy while also avoiding being to spoilery. (A standard comic book generally runs about 30 pages (including ads), and the task of providing a thorough review without telling the whole story OR the review becoming much longer than the work being reviewed requires a delicate balance, but I do enjoy the challenge.)

        The Jessica Morgan character is a doctor. She is the mission leader. And, she is attractive. Like it or not, all three of these elements do play a large role in the character’s intended development. Without giving away too much (I hope), her medical background is important to the analyzation of the aliens, her role as a mission leader lends to her governmental influence and decision making, and her appearance is highlighted to show the progressive balance of Captain Joshua Adams’ character focus. Whether or not her attractiveness played any role in her current position is unknown and would be better addressed in some yet to be provided Hollywood backstory. But for the purpose of this comic, her appearance is less about her and more about the development of the characters around her. And being a comic, with pictures, the graphic imagery is as important to the plot and literary value as the prose in the bubbles.

        As wrong or as harsh as it is, regressive ideals still exist in the world today and IS an unfortunate part of real life. I do try to avoid this type of controversy, but as a fan of literature in its purist form along with the power of the written word, I would never personally chastise others for their use of word choices because it can quickly lead to an emotional battle of censorship, an act I believe to be akin to book burning.

        Thanks again for your input. I will try to keep your points in mind in the future. I hope my review does not deter you or any other readers from enjoying this well-crafted comic. It would be unfortunate that the criticism of the syntax used in a review overshadows the value of the work sited.

        1. I guess it would have sufficed to say “the captain is steely in her determination” or something like that, and “Dr Jessica Morgan is the leader of the mission”. OR, you could maybe have said “Capt Joshua Adams is the hot, drool-worthy, lust-inducing, army officer”!

          1. I fully intend to read the comic, of course. I loved ID. And I mostly read science fiction and watch sci fi movies. I’m an outlier, I know.

          2. I’m not clear. Outlier because you read SF, you watch SF films or because SF?

          3. Outlier because I’m a 60 year old woman who mostly reads/watches sci fi and can’t stand romantic comedies!

          4. Welcome to the club!.

            do you just read/watch, or do you engage in other fannish activities?

          5. I go to cons…Anime Boston, Connecticon, Phoenix Comicon, SD Comicon once…some smaller Phx ones. Mostly when they have ST activity. I’m also a Steampunker. Did a Steampunk NexGen officer’s uniform a few years ago. But I’ve been reading “hard” sci-fi since childhood, and watched all the series (ST, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, etc) with my mother, who was also a sci fi fan. I have her collection of 50s-60s sci fi books. I also read some manga & watch anime – my daughter got me into that. My favorite is YKK (Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou). Now you know more than you wanted to about my interests!

          6. I was curious about your use of “outlier”, since I expect most people visiting the site to enjoy the same outlier status.
            Your experiences seem a fairly well-rounded fannish one (if one can say such a thing).
            I’m a few years behind you and seem to have many of the same experiences, though my parents did not have an SF library, I had to build that myself, starting with Del Rey’s The Runaway Robot (Scholastic books, actually written by Paul Fairman) and then what were the “classics” at the time – Wells, Verne, Shelley, Stoker, and then the Heinlein juveniles with a side trip to Middle Earth.
            I was fortunate to live in a major media market growing up and therefore got to see most of both the old and new shows on TV, and most films in first run.
            I love the edwardian/victorian look of steampunk (and some of the stories) as well. I’m still wresting with anime (more due to lack of time than lack of interest.)

            In short, you’re not an “outlier” here. Welcome, and enjoy!

          7. I meant more for my age and sex. Seems like all the other “ladies” I know around me do scrapbooking and care for their grandchildren, LOL. Most of the men my age here are into motorcycles. I grew up in NYC & Boston, so I know what you mean about watching the old sci-fi movies on TV on a Saturday afternoon. Nice to meet you!

          8. you are not the only one; grew up being subjected to it, didn’t like it, try my damndest not to do it. Having long experience with Ricky, I’m positive that there was nothing negative intended by his words. I hope that his explanation was satisfactory.

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