I’m sure that I will have a lot more to say or write about V via Pop Culture Affidavit at some point in the future because while I didn’t watch all of it when it first came on in 1983 (at six, I was definitely too young), I did watch parts of V: The Final Battle when it first aired and saw both miniseries as well as most of the TV show when it reran on the SciFi Network in 1996-1997. I also own two of the novels based on the series and remember seeing DC’s house ads for this title as far back as 1984-1985 (iirc, there’s one on the inside cover of Superman #410). So, for the purposes of this review, I’ll stick to those comics.
Continuity-wise, this takes place in conjunction with the ongoing television series, which lasted all of a season in ’84-’85 and therefore is set after the events of V: The Final Battle, with the “red dust” having more or less defeated the Visitors except for in and around warmer climes like Los Angeles, which was declared an “open city” and given to the Visitors (therefore giving the resistance a reason to fight). The comic book series lasted only eighteen issues, which is roughly as long as the actual television show lasted, and does feature the same characters that were on the series. For the most part, the stories are standard action stuff, and it seems that Michael Ironside’s character of Ham Tyler gets quite a bit of the spotlight. Considering he’s the “tough guy” character who is more willing to be both dangerous and aggressive, that makes sense and translates pretty well to a comic.
There are flashes of some really great comics writing in this series, especially when the writers (mostly Cary Bates, although Bob Rozakis and Mindy Newell wrote a couple of the issues I own) are spending time with Diana and the Visitors and are clearly having fun with the internal squabbling and power plays that are going on. However, there are times when the resistance’s stories read like a translation of a low-budget TV show to a comic. One early plot involves the resistance finding a town in the middle of nowhere that has made a deal with the Visitors–they take the water from the town’s hot springs and the town is spared. When you have the unlimited budget of a comic book, you can go for bigger sets and not have to adhere to NBC’s need to shoot everything on a backlot.
That being said, I don’t know how much creative control the network allowed, and for all I know, they may have meddled in the ways that both Star Trek and Star Wars comics saw their titles meddled with. And despite that, these were a fun read. The pacing is quick and you definitely feel as if you get your money’s worth from the issue; plus, while I’m not a fan of Carmine Infantino’s art from this time, the inks by greats like Tony DeZuniga make it much better than I thought it was going to be.
If I’m going to try some “expanded universe” V, my first choice is probably going to be the novels (East Coast Crisis by A.C. Crispin is outstanding), but being that I own just under half of the issues of this series and they occasionally pop up in cheap bins at shows, I think it’s worth holding onto and then reevaluating after I complete the run.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?
Keep (for now).