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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

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Ratings are based on a four star system.
One star means that the commercials are more entertaining than the program.
Two stars watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars is good solid entertainment.
Four stars means you never dreamed television could be this good.

Now that Aaron Sorkin has been kicked out of television for being too liberal (and too stoned) the best dramatic television writers all work, or have worked, in the science fiction or fantasy genres: Ronald D. Moore, currently writing for Battlestar Galactica, Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, Angel, and Serenity, and J. Michael Straczinski, creator of Babylon 5 and Jeremiah.

Two of the three are writing for comic books.

Joss Whedon didn't actually write the Serenity comic books. The credits on the Serenity books read "story by Joss Whedon and Brett Mathews, script by Brett Mathews". But if Whedon did not write the dialogue, then Mathews has the unique voice of each character down cold. For example, do I need to tell you who speaks this line of dialogue? "He was crowdin' me, and I don't know him. I hit people that crowd me I don't know."

The plot takes place between the end of the TV series and the beginning of the movie, and, while it isn't an absolutely necessary part of the story, it's a nice little bite sized treat. We may have a very long wait before we get more.

The artwork, by Bill Conrad, is excellent. But then, we take excellent artwork for granted in comics these days. I do miss, just a little, the 60s, when each artist had a distinctive style and you could tell at a glance if a story was drawn by Joe Kubert or Jack Kirby.

Serenity is a three issue mini-series from Dark Horse Comics.

Serenity #1 Serenity #2 Serenity #3

The Book of Lost Souls #1 The Book of Lost Souls #2 J. Michael Straczinski, after reportedly telling Peter David that the only people who wrote for comic books were people who aren't good enough for television, has apparently changed his mind in a big way.

One thing that happens to comic book writers is they get burned out on a character. Straczinski brought new life and new ideas to The Amazing Spider-man, but now he seems to me to be a little burned out. How many stories are there to tell about a wall crawling young man bitten by a radioactive spider? On the other hand, Straczinski has a new book out from Icon that is fresh and full of life, The Book of Lost Souls. Colleen Doran does the art. It is urban fantasy and brings several new twists to an old idea. I particularly liked the cat.

With comic books like these, who needs television!

Copyright © 2005 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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