I have seen the entire Farscape saga all the way through many times. What didn’t exist during those previous viewings, however, were further adventures in the Farscape universe, which have now finally manifested in the form of a new comic book series that Boom! Studios began releasing last year in four-part arcs, each of which adds up to about an episode’s length of plot. While I was a bit skeptical, having been very excited by the prospect of the Buffy “Season 8″ comics and then subsequently let down when I actually read them, I approached these comics initially as a means to an end. Having reached the end of four seasons and The Peacekeeper Wars, I was so desperate for more Farscape, my choices were either to start watching it all over again from the beginning or to give these comics a try. I chose the latter, and I’m extremely glad I did. Like Buffy Season 8, these comic books are supervised by the creator of the series–in this case, Rockne O’Bannon. Unlike Buffy Season 8, however, reading this series feels like watching the show, and the arcing, so far, is extremely solid. The tone is right; the look is right; the humor is right; the characters are right.
The first arc, “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning,” picks up precisely where The Peacekeeper Wars left off, with John and Aeryn showing their new baby, D’Argo Sun Crichton, the stars. While one might have hoped that the (finally!) happy couple would have been allowed a little more peace and downtime before being plunged into their next adventure, if they had been, it wouldn’t be Farscape. The major thrust of this first story is the resolution of a thread that has been an important aspect of the Farscape universe since Day One but one which would have been too costly to produce on screen, namely Rygel’s return to Hyneria to reclaim his throne from his traitorous cousin, Bishan. The highest compliment I can pay this series is that it manages to handle this long-building plot with wit and aplomb, while also finding interesting ways to examine all of the characters in Moya’s current crew–all still reeling from D’Argo’s death–and where they currently are in their lives.
For John and Aeryn, this means exploring their new roles as parents, negotiating the lives they once knew with this new element. For example, what should they do when they embark on an adventure? Take Deke (their nickname for Little D’Argo) with them or leave him on Moya with Noranti? Aeryn, in particular, gets some very meaty material, as she begins to learn how to reconcile being a mother with her own soldier upbringing, a difficult transition captured as beautifully here as her birthing scene was in The Peacekeeper Wars. Meanwhile, Chiana is sublimating her grief by having lots and lots of sex with Jothee, who himself has chosen to remain with Moya in order to spend some time walking in his father’s footsteps and discovering more about who he was. And then there is Rygel, who is used marvelously here. This story brilliantly encapsulates how much the little green slug has grown since first being ousted. In a fantastic reversal, Sparky is depicted as having been, in the past, comparable to Bishan in his hedonistic tendencies and lack of compassion, but Rygel’s years as prisoner and then as an escaped prisoner on Moya have indelibly changed him, and transformed him into someone capable of being a ruler of substance and wisdom.
Along the way, we learn a great deal about what happened to many other characters as well as the world situation overall since John’s actions at the end of The Peacekeeper Wars, in a manner completely in keeping with the style of the show. Like the television series, the Farscape comics maintain a delicate balance of sweeping space opera with silly humor, along with bodily functions and pop culture references, and capture the voices of the characters nearly flawlessly. While reading, I could hear each of the characters saying these lines in my head. The comics are also loaded with continuity references, most of which feel much more organically utilized than in the Buffy comic. It constantly feels as if we are delving further into the Farscape universe, rather than being inundated with character returns simply for the arbitrary sake of doing so, as it often feels like with Buffy Season 8. The past history of the characters constantly informs who they are now and the courses their lives are taking. Because of this, one does have to be deeply familiar with the series in order to follow or care about the story. It really is an extension of the television show like no other tie-in comic I’ve read. Like the show, it rewards its fans for paying attention, rather than courting newbies.
The second arc, “Strange Detractors” takes a well-trod Farscape convention, i.e. a “Crew Goes Crazy” episode a la “Crackers Don’t Matter” and “Twice Shy” and expands it to epic proportions the likes of which we have not before seen, while continuing to further the arc begun in “Beginning.” The third arc, “D’Argo’s Lament” returns us to Season 3 for a D’Argo/Jool story that at first seems like a typical plans-getting-frelled up story but soon expands to fill in parts of D’Argo’s history that we hadn’t yet known, such as how he met Lo’laan. The fourth, “Gone and Back,” which returns us to post-Peacekeeper Wars chronology, is a twist on the Star Trek “Mirror Universe” concept, by way of one of Farscape‘s “unrealized realities,” that manages to reveal certain aspects of some of the mysteries brewing since the first arc while raising even more tantalizing questions. The fifth, “D’Argo’s Trial” again takes us back in time to D’Argo’s first meeting with Lo’laan and tracks their entire relationship, up to and after her death. The sixth, “Tangled Roots,” and seventh, “D’Argo’s Quest,” have only just begun.
Although The Peacekeeper Wars wrapped up the main arc of Farscape beautifully, these comics prove that there are many more stories to be told in the Uncharted Territories, from both the past and the present. Not only are they furthering the Farscape narrative but further strengthening the framework of the entire saga. And while we may not be able to see the tale of how John and Aeryn learn to balance being parents with being bad-ass space heroes on our television screens, these comics really are the next best thing.