This page is moving to:

Geocities is shutting down this year. Please update any bookmarks you may have. This page will remain here until Geocities shuts down. As of today (June 25, 2009), the above link is to an identical copy, but I may be redoing things in my upcoming redesign of my website. Thank you for your patience.

Good Read Column for June 1, 1998


By Tara Jenkins

(one shot, but part of an ongoing series)
16 pages, Helikon Comics, $0.99 (of a possible five)


OK, after a couple of weeks of doing comics more than a month old I promised myself I'd do something new. I viewed the stacks at my local comics shop, trying to find something interesting that I wasn't already buying that had come in this week. Must have been a bad week.

But my box did hold a new Galaxion, a Special Edition for under a buck, with a half-sized story (13 pages), and some text material in the back meant to introduce new readers to the series. It's not from this past week, but at least it's not from April.

Like many of the comics I review here, I've only recently been introduced to Galaxion. I first heard about it in USENET, visited the web page that contains the first several pages of the first issue, and was immediately hooked. I have it on my pull order and I've asked for the back issues, though they haven't showed up yet. I unfortunately arrived at a very bad time, because in the most recent issue - REMEMBER YOU'VE BEEN WARNED ABOUT SPOILERS! THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE! - and now I'm going to babble a bit just to fill a little bit of last-minute spoiler space for the people who've come to ignore my initial spoiler warning because I seldom actually do any spoiling - OK, are we all clear? - in the most recent issue Patty died. She was one of the main characters, apparently, and her death was meant to be traumatic. It was, for the characters, but I hadn't gotten the chance to know her. I'm sure it will affect me more once I get the other comics and read/reread the whole thing so far.

So, what is Galaxion about? Well, as you can tell from the title, it's a science fiction story. The Galaxion is a spaceship, a civilian scientific ship. The main character, Aria, is a scientist and best friends with the commander, Fusella. At the beginning of the series, the Galaxion was comandeered by the Terran Space Aministration for an experiment with a new hyperdrive engine. Fusella and her crew are allowed to participate, but her title is now Advisor (similar to First Officer) and the command of the ship is turned over to General Scavina Nelson. General Nelson's husband, Jeff, invented the hyperspace engine, and was aboard the Hiawatha, the first ship to try it. The ship disappeared and Jeff Nelson is presumed dead. A second experiment was considered a success, although it ended prematurely due to an unexplained systems burnout. The Galaxion is the third try. It works, except that they seem to have somehow reached an alternate universe. Most of this is explained in the text matter in the back of the Special Edition.

The Special Edition concerns an incident earlier in the lives of three of the main characters. Fusella, Darvin and Zandarin. As Jenkins says in the back, for those familiar with the chararacters in the regular series, "this little incident may help you to understand How They Got That Way." And for new readers, either like myself or first timers, this is an engaging story all its own that needs no familiarity with the series to be enjoyed, yet is intriguing enough to make one want to pick up more of the series to see what it's like.

This is a very good idea, and I hope it succeeds in broadening the audience for this comic. For a medium whose dominant genre started out as a sub-genre of science fiction (Superman is an alien, and most superheroes have pseudo-scientific explanations for their powers), there is very little real science fiction in comics these days. Since Teri S. Wood finished Wandering Star I've been hoping for a good space opera. (And don't tell me about Star Trek comics - they don't count; if you feel I need to justify that stance, e-mail me and I'll tell you why.)

Galaxion is very different from Wandering Star, which had the bittersweet tragedy foretold from the beginning by it's reminiscing narrator (who we knew thereby would survive). This book is more of a discovery, with a sense of wonder that's been missing from both science fiction and comics lately.

Tara Jenkins' art is basically good, but I have a hard time differentiating her characters. I admit that when I look closely at them the differences become more apparent, and it may be as much my problem as hers. I think it's mostly a stylistic thing - that they all look the same because they're all drawn in a style I'm not familiar with, and as I become more familiar with her style the problem will go away.

Overall, I like this comic. If you're a reader of science fiction, I'll bet you will to. In addition to being solidly written and reasonably well-drawn, it has a lot of very nice little touches, like the main character's cat named Aslan. If you're not a science fiction fan, you probably find hyperdrives, alternate universes and humanoid aliens ultimately as silly as heavily muscled guys in spandex suits pounding each other around. You're wrong, of course, but I won't try to persuade you. Check out some of the previous weeks' Good Reads for more down-to-earth fare.

Comments? Questions? Drop me a line
This page has had visitors since 09/01/2000
This page was last updated: 09/02/2000

Steve's Reads (Home)
This Week's ReadLast Week's ReadPrevious Reads
CerebusSandmanLove and Rockets
InterviewsReviewsComics & Comic Books
Good Comic BooksGood Comic MagazinesAlternative Comics

The words on this page and others maintained here are © J. Stephen Bolhafner.
Images in this webspace or pages linked here are all © their respective creators
Feel free to add add this page as a link, or to copy any of the links to your own page - just don't copy the words themselves without my express permission, or I shall be forced to send my lawyer over to beat up your dog.