Loose Cannon: Issue #37

Fri, September 28th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

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CUE ORCHESTRAL FANFARE

God help me, I watched Enterprise last Wednesday night, and I

loved it.

[Enterprise]I'll be honest with you, I didn't really have high hopes for the show.

Sure, I have an inexplicable soft-spot for Scott Bakula's work, and I

was a pretty serious follower of the old Star Trek , ever since

the early 70s when I lived in the wilds of rural Vermont. The only thing

on at six pm was ten channels of news, ZOOM on PBS, and Star

Trek on WPIX out of New York City. It was hard not to follow the

show when it was the only thing on that was even vaguely palatable to a

nine year old kid out in the sticks.

But you know the drill: time marches on, other things take precedence,

and the day comes when I realized that even if Paramount hadn't

driven their golden goose to exhaustion with all the various

permutations of the concept, that enough ticks of the clock had passed

by that I wasn't really their target audience, anymore. So, because I'm

interested in pop culture, I'd tune in every once in a while, but I

didn't really keep up with those who boldly go.

It just simply came down to me not be willing to invest time into

somebody else's entertainment when I had entertainment of my own to

produce.

But I started to hear some stuff about it like "the words 'Star Trek'

aren't in the title," and "bold new reimagination of the early days of

the Federation," and "why don't they just call it Star Trek: Roots

?" and "James Cromwell reprises role as inventor of warp drive,"

"Scott Bakula cast as the captain"… and God help me, I couldn't help

myself: I set the

TiVo up to record the pilot episode because I couldn't not

watch it.

And you know, I was really quite charmed by it. Sure, the need to

introduce characters and situations, coupled with the need to tell an

interesting story seemed to yield a mish-mash of direction; yes, Linda

Park's character was dopey and shrill; yes, the bio-decontamination

rub-down was the very definition of "gratuitous."

But you have to admit that the set design is quite impressive, the

costumes are pretty, the lead actors are likable and the main villains

are, if not striking, at least inventive, what with their ability to

literally change shape by disjointing their bodies…

…all in all, I was impressed with the same old cats over at Paramount

corporate allowing their creative departments to force a little air into

the tired concept by taking a look at why audiences have reacted

so positively to their old show, and basically start over, at the

beginning.

[Strangers in Paradise #43]Coincidentally, I also read Strangers in Paradise #43 that same

day. I've very much enjoyed Terry Moore's work on the series, and SIP is

one of only three comics the missus begs me to let her read first when I

get them (the other two being Promethea and Ministry of Space,

for those of you keeping track at home), so, as you may well

imagine, I follow this one a little closer than most.

As I finished this latest issue, I was really quite struck by the deft

way Terry made the long-standing members of his audience realize just

what it was they enjoyed so much about his characters, by showing

alternate future versions of them while almost simultaneously resetting

his characters and situations back to the beginning. It's as if he was

sitting around his studio one day and said to himself, "I've developed

quite a fondness for these characters, and I've been putting them

through the ringer for years. I want them to have a happy life, and you

know what? No one's stopping me from giving it to them."

It's as if Paramount, on the one hand, and Terry Moore, on the other,

both independently realized that complexity is not necessarily maturity

and that a diamond in the rough is still a valuable gemstone. Sure, the

first episode of Enterprise is a little coarse and creaky, but I

think I may be watching this one before The West Wing each

Wednesday from now on.

And I have no doubt Francine and Katchoo and David will still be the

center of drama and pathos and joy; it'll just be a different sort of

drama than the first forty-two issues…

This is a cue for the whole comics industry, if you haven't seen this

point coming. To the folks who create and to the folks who produce: what

a good time to take stock of what you're doing and who you're doing it

for; to look deep into what makes you love comics and…

…start over, fresh. You don't have to throw anything out… just…

remind your audience why it is they love what you do.

Many of you may check in daily at the Warren Ellis Forum for

your current news on politics, world events, and the state of the comics

business. Early Wednesday, there was a long discussion thread about the

relative merits of the Enterprise theme song. Honestly, I found

it a forgettable bit of soft-rock radio crap, but I'm not exactly a

learned music critic, so there you go. I will say this: I'll bet a

Yankee dollar with the first person who reads this and posts at Warren's

taking me up on the bet that the lead-off episode of Enterprise

in the 2002-2003 season will sport an orchestral fanfare and feature

Scott Bakula emoting the famous "Space; the final frontier…" mission

statement. After all, this bit is just the beginning; they've got plenty

of time for a shakedown…

A dead CIA agent was a hero. A crazy one, a larry@comicbookresources.com

Website: www.ait-planetlar.com

If you want more information on the upcoming WHISPER: DAY X graphic

novel, send Steven Grant an email at stevendgrant@hotmail.com

and beg him to add you to his WHISPER announcement list. I have it on

very good authority that the esteemed Mr. Grant is, even now,

ready to send out the script for the first eight pages of the upcoming

graphic novel to his peeps, as a teaser and as reward. Don't miss out.

While you can get your news and commentary about the funny books all

over the damn Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at least

one bit of information at theLoose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else. Last week, there was all that goodness about what Patty Jeres really said to me about Kamandi, as well as some info on the new Sky Ape

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