The beginning of Battlestar Galactica’s third season found the majority of what’s left of humanity living on New Caprica, a planet that had seemed like their salvation until the Cylons arrived and the occupation began. Some people joined resistance groups while others collaborated with the enemy to protect themselves and their families. Eventually, they were rescued, though no one lived happily ever after. With the exception of one story taking place during the occupation, the focus of Battlestar Galactica: Echoes of New Caprica is the effect the experiences of New Caprica have upon the survivors even after the planet is left behind.
“Teacher’s Pet,” story by Emily Salzfass and art by Chrissy Delk, takes place during the occupation. Former president Laura Roslin is working as a teacher and many of her lessons serve as a celebration of the history and culture of the now-destroyed colonies. The Cylons get wind of her curriculum and aren’t at all happy, but Roslin refuses to back down, even as she confronts the possibility that one of her students may be the informant.
Though the climactic moments are a little muddled, “Teacher’s Pet” is the best in the volume. Its tone is appropriately grim and there are moments where character voices seem spot on. One line from Roslin, “I’m a big girl; I can handle risk,” perfectly evokes her calm yet steely resolve. The art is not as successful as the writing, however. Characters are usually recognizable even though they don’t look like much like the actors that portray them (the Eights bear no resemblance to Grace Park, for example) but there was one random schlubby guy that I kept seeing in the resistance meetings that I couldn’t identify. I kept wondering who he was until he finally made an expression I recognized. Who was this mystery man? Chief Tyrol. Hardly a minor character.
“Shelf Life,” story by Richard Hatch (the actor who plays the story’s protagonist) and art by Christopher Schons, is set immediately after the colonists have been rescued from New Caprica. Vice President Tom Zarek is temporarily in control of the government and seeks to exact punishment on collaborators by creating small cells of trusted individuals who will try and execute them. These events do play out in the television series, but here we see more of Zarek’s perspective as well as how his decisions impact his oldest friend.
Some of the dialogue is a little cheesy (“When will we humans ever grow up?”) but the story isn’t bad. I appreciate that some small details from the show are included, such as Chief Tyrol’s tendency to be the last to cast his vote during the trials. Like “Teacher’s Pet,” however, the artist fails to capture many of the actors’ likenesses. For some time I thought they’d got the members of Galactica’s cell (The Circle) wrong because I couldn’t tell two female characters apart. Too, every scene has the same sort of dingy grey look to it, even those taking place on Colonial One (the President’s ship), which has a cleaner and brighter interior than a battlestar.
I found “Visitation,” story by Mike Wellman and art by Anthony Wu, to be the weakest of the three stories. While on New Caprica, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace was held captive by a Cylon and made to believe that her ovaries had been used to create a daughter. She becomes attached to the girl only to run into her actual mother after the evacuation from the planet. Now she encounters the girl again, living in unsavory conditions, and absconds with her.
My objection to the story isn’t that the events are implausible—the show certainly went to the “Starbuck is mentally unstable, does something crazy, and treats those who care about her like crap” well often enough—but because it’s simply a retread of the kind of thing we’ve seen before on the show quite a few times already. “Visitation” also had the strangest art of the lot. I understand an artist wanting to pursue their individual style and all that, but when I’m staring in puzzlement at an unidentifiable, weird-looking, block-headed dude who is then addressed as Helo, played by the undeniably hunky Tahmoh Penikett, then there is a problem.
The bottom line: If you’re a BSG fan who’s missing the show already, you could do worse. I found it kind of nice to revisit these characters at an arguably simpler time.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.