24th Mar2016

‘Independence Day #1’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Victor Gischler | Art by Steve Scott | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp


Having read far too many movie tie-ins in my time, I have a observation to share. Tie-ins that use the source material but add to it, such as storylines that run alongside the main story or ones that flesh out supporting characters, tend to be pretty good. They bring something of value. Ones that just duplicate the movie itself, or mimic it to a degree that you have a generic plot and cast, tend to be bad, sometimes very bad. Some properties lend themselves to being adapted quite naturally, others not so much. For me, Independence Day falls into the latter category so it’s fair to say my expectations going in to this were not high.

This five part mini-series is designed to bridge the time, or at least set the scene, between the first Independence Day movie and the soon to be released sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. Part of the problem straight off the bat was that even though I have seen the film several times, action set pieces aside, not much has remained in my memory. The cast of characters were not terribly memorable, being honest, so investing us in these characters looks like being a tough ask. The story begins with a US military task force, led by Captain Joshua Adams (a character from the original film apparently) and Dr Jessica Morgan, heading out to the site of a newly discovered alien vessel, deep under sea. A team then head out underwater to see the vessel up close.

For me, Independence Day #1 didn’t really work very well on any level. The bulk of the action takes place on a submarine, and by action I mean talking, and by talking I mean exposition. Lots of it. The problem with this is the writer is asking us to spend over a dozen pages reading about characters we have just met, know little about, and who as yet seem to possess little personality, certainly not enough to distinguish them from each other. Gischler writes these scenes probably as good as he can, but they are monotonous and lacking any sense of drama. The surprise of the last page ends up just feeling tacked on, to make up for the lack of anything really happening in the previous pages.

So we have pretty generic, underwritten characters in a generic setting and story, and if you took out the one or two direct references to Independence Day this could be any cast of characters in any story. Licensed comics are never easy at the best of times, but this just feels as though Gischler is writing by numbers, following a very tight studio brief. Not bad, just routine and instantly forgettable. The artwork throughout is not bad, though doesn’t flow particularly well, feels very static at times. This of course is partly due to the fact there are lots of panels where characters just stand around talking, so I’ll reserve judgment until next issue when Steve Scott should have more to do.

I hate being too negative with reviews, as most comics have some saving graces, but I struggled to find positives here. I certainly don’t blame the creative team too much, as the source material makes for a great visual action film but doesn’t leave much in the way of characters or scenarios to build upon, and the generic characters found here are no more lacking in personality than those that were up on the screen.

Unless there is a significant shift upwards in all departments with next issue, this is one tie-in that will struggle to find an audience.

** 2/5

Independence Day #1 is out now from Titan Comics


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