Written by Phil Crain, Ralph Macchio | Art by Leonard Kirk, Rod Whigham, Terry Pallot | Published by Titan Comics
As the marketing for Independence Day: Resurgence really shifts into high gear, Titan Comics have decided to re-release the original Marvel Comics adaptation of the first Independence Day movie. A cash in? Sure. A worthy cash in? That’s what I’ll be determining. The original adaptation by Marvel came out in 1996, and was first released as a 3 issue mini-series, issues 0-2 (don’t get me started on the stupidity of 0 issues, we’ll be here all night), and was probably most notable for the fact the first issue came out before the actual film. Sure, this may have been intended to create some pre-release buzz (sound familiar?) but spoilers, people, spoilers.
The only way to review and judge a collection such as this is by reviewing the original story as published, and then the new collection as a whole, including any bonus content or extras. The original story itself is decent, but no more. Issue 0 probably had the best content, by providing more back story than we witnessed in the movie itself, fleshing out some ideas, concepts, and character history from the filmmakers that either didn’t make the screen cut or were only mentioned in passing. The story starts in Roswell in 1947, passes through 1967,1986, and 1992, all the time checking in on all the major characters who play a part in the film ; we learn a lot more about Russell Casse (Randy Quaid’s eccentric pilot) for example here than in the film. A very worthwhile prequel issue, well written by Phil Crain but let down by the artwork, involving seven different artists, none of whom do a particular impressive job beyond getting most of the actor likenesses correct.
Issues 1 and 2, which collected the movie itself, were adapted by Ralph Macchio (not the Karate Kid of course, for those that remember the old Marvel gag) and again are not bad, though it always very subjective as to what is left in the book and what is taken out. Often scripters of adaptations have access to a ‘finished’ script that will quite often change, so they may include scenes that no longer feature in the finished film, or include longer sequences that explain more than the highly cut finished scenes in the film. Macchio’s adaptation is pretty true to the film as memory serves , though there are one or two minor deviations from the film for the purists among you. The art again lets down these issues, being a mish mash of six different artists (deadline problems Leonard Kirk?). Some pages look good, some pages look bad. This is even more of a shame as we actually have the proper character likenesses for once (Marvel rarely shelled out the extra money to be able to use actor likenesses) but the often muddy and erratic finished artwork does little justice to any of them.
The actual adaptation then hasn’t aged particularly well. Efficient, yet workmanlike scripting, let down by average and often jarring artwork. If you liked the film you may still enjoy it, but it lacks the gloss and pizzazz of a modern comic. So what about the lovely extras that have been packed in to this re-issue? Er, not so fast. We get a 2 page timeline to show the links from 1947 Roswell through to the 2016 events that form the basis of the new film, and nothing else. Interesting? Sure. Essential? Nope. Worth buying the adaptation for? No.
It’s hard to really recommend this collection. If we had some remastered artwork, or some great new extras like character bios or a creator interview to give the book context, then I would be happier. All we actually have is a repackaged 20 year old story that definitely feels like a 20 year old story, but at 2016 prices.
Independence Day: The Original Movie Adaptation is out now from Titan Comics