Before we talk comics, lets talk Falling Skies,one of two really great t.v. dramas out there today that can not miss from week to week. Steven Spielberg’s alien invasion epic runs a summer season so while the majority of t.v. is in re-runs Falling Skies is giving 1-hour a week of viewing pleasure to wind down on a Saturday morning (actually airs on Sunday evenings) with eggs and toast to forget a long week of work. Thank you DVR.
Why am I wasting so much time writing about a t.v. show when this review is clearly a comic? Because if you do not watch the show this comic is of little interest to you. In fact, it would be down right confusing with all the history and backstory in season one of the series to even understand this as a stand-alone tale. So if you have not yet seen Falling Skies, stop right here, go buy or stream the first season of episodes and then resume from this point forward.
The Battle of Fitchburg is the period of time from where season one leaves off with Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) going with the newly introduced “Overlord alien” aboard a spaceship to discuss the future of the Earth-bound conflict. As season two opens with Mason’s return we are shown flashbacks of his imprisonment with the skitter’s masters as the show progresses forward towards Charlestown, SC. The turmoil of the three months passed for the 2nd Mass are referenced numerous times by the soldiers as the struggles in Fitchburg is told as a memory of days past. Their tale lies within the pages of this graphic novel.
Much like the Empire Strikes Back, this is the arachnid invaders retaliation following a decisive and important rebellion victory. Still very much in control of the troops and protecting the civilians Dan Weaver leads the 2nd Mass across the state where they find themselves engrossed in battle with their enemy. Riding high from a very emotional victory the reality of loss quickly returns the survivors to the reality of the moment that the Earth is still occupied and very much in the control of the Skitter Army.
While very much in the forefront, but always implied and never explained is the harnessing of the children and teenage captors. Described vividly for the first time (chronologically), we are witness to the terrorizing and dehumanizing ritual of turning our own species against ourselves. While we fight the skitter race, we also learn that they are as much a controlled and conquered species as the human race is becoming.
The story and dialogue of Marvel veteran Paul Tobin is gripping and fast-paced. Typically known for his superhero style of writing, it is welcoming to read a book with a more action-oriented hook of his Avengers style writing then you would normally find in a traditional sci-fi story line. The retro-two dimensional artwork of Juan Ferreyra and Co. is decent but nothing that jumps from the page and makes me say wow, it reminded my creative reference strongly of the Star Wars: Dark Empire series by Cam Kennedy. Every comic reader has a style they prefer, mine just happens not to be that of flat pallets and single-tone hues with gratuitous use of shadings. While I understand the vibrant coloring of a superhero comic would look out-of-place and counter-productive to the storyline it still is something that is not a comfortable follow for my tastes.
The setting, for a native of Central Massachusetts is well done. The actual city of Fitchburg is a stereotypical industrial downtown layout with outlying residential areas. The factories amongst the treelines while drawn likely from photographic inspirations do have the very real feeling of what the city actually has to offer. In this one situation the artwork’s dark and monotone style bring reality to the page. Much like a smaller version of Pittsburgh, PA the blue color atmosphere and survivors of Fitchburg, MA should have been enough to scare the invaders right back to their ships without so much as a resistance from the soldiers.
Anyone that has bothered to follow this show for nearly two seasons owes it to themselves to fully understand the whole story and the legend behind referencing comments throughout the second season of Falling Skies. Keeping with the tradition I look forward to reading what lies in waiting for the interim of seasons two into three.