Buck Rogers #0
Writer: Scott Beatty
Artist: Carlos Rafael
Colors: Carlos Lopez
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover artist: John Cassaday
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Price: 25 cents
Dynamite Entertainment adds to its lineup of well-known, even classic genre-fiction characters with this latest foray into science-fiction comics. While hardly obscure, it’s safe to say that Buck Rogers is a character with which much of the publisher’s audience might not be familiar. After all, the last major pop-culture endeavor revolving around the title character was the Gil Gerard television of the late 1970s/early ’80s, as far as I know. He certainly doesn’t have the cachet of such characters as the Lone Ranger and Zorro, so one could argue that Dynamite might face a bit of an uphill battle in its bid to develop an audience for this title. Releasing a prologue issue for only 25 cents is a solid strategy in that battle, one the publisher has employed in the past. With super-hero scribe Scott Beatty at the helm of this book, it’s off to a solid start, with some slick sci-fi writing and even more polished artwork to draw one into the weird adventure. Beatty and artist Carlos Rafael achieve a nice balance between modern storytelling and elements more in keeping with Buck’s roots as pulp action-adventure hero.
A race of paramecium-like aliens with insatiable appetites has set its sights on Earth and its people as its next big meal, and when its armada arrives in the solar system in the 25th century, mankind, knowing it’s outgunned and outnumbered, nevertheless prepares to go down fighting. Humanity’s one shining hope lies in a hero who’s managed to get behind enemy lines. He’s Buck Rogers, a man plucked out of his own time, and it’s a good think, as mankind’s future depends on him.
Carlos Rafael’s credits in North American comics are limited to other Dynamite titles for the most part. He’s not made an impression before this point, but his art on this inexpensive comic book should change that for many. His crisp, clean linework captures the sort of broad, dynamic strokes that’s fitting for an adventure comic such as this one. His style here reminds me of Mike (Amazing Spider-Man) McKone’s artwork. Alex Ross, resources that Dynamite often taps to assist on various projects, has contributed a sharp, inventive and unusual design for the title character, one that’s been extended to serve as a futuristic military uniform.
A vital component to the success of the visual storytelling here is the coloring job. Carlos Lopez’s colors are vibrant. The lush greens used to capture the morphing flesh of the invading aliens bring so much energy to the book. The white and yellow glow of the lines and discs adorning the heroes’ black suits really set the design apart from typical comic-book fare.
Beatty hits the right notes with this script without getting mired in cliched elements. He includes a couple of snippets of dialogue playing with the cultural disconnect between Buck and his 25th century allies, but he’s careful not to overdo. I liked some of the sci-fi ideas he tosses in, and while the antagonists as shapeless blobs, it doesn’t stop him from writing what turns out to be a solid fight scene. The main plot’s not exactly cutting-edge material, but it’s traditional and serviceable.
I think what most impressed me about this story is how unconventional the ending is. Sure, Buck saves the day, of course; who’d expect anything less. But as this is a cheap preview issue, I was expecting the status quo that was quickly established to be maintained once I reached the final page. Instead, there’s a surprising cliffhanger that suggests the set-up earlier in the issue and the supporting cast won’t be around in forthcoming episodes of the series. This property is usually referred to as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, but I notice that time element is missing from the title of this comic book. Perhaps Beatty has other locales and times in mind for Buck. 7/10