One of the biggest franchises in science fiction television expanded this week when Dynamite Entertainment announced that it has nabbed the rights to produce “Stargate” comic books based. The publisher will build on the MGM property's two previous iterations with a "Stargate SG1" series written by Doug Murray and a "Stargate Atlantis" series written by Brandon Jerwa. Topping it all off, a brand new "Stargate Universe" comic book will begin to coincide with the new SyFy series of the same name, written by Chuck Dixon with covers from legendary painter Dave Dorman and interiors by painter John Watson.
"There's been a lot of moving parts in doing this, and I would imagine the success that the producers had from 'Stargate SG-1' and 'Stargate Atlantis' really, really pushed them to work as hard as possible on the new series," Dynamite President Nick Barrucci told CBR. "This series should be the topper. It has the most diverse cast of actors, people that most comic book fans and sci fi fans have grown up with. Lou Diamond Phillips has been around for 20 years. You've got a 'Who's Who' with actors who are up and comers and established peers, and that's going to make for a great dichotomy and hopefully for a long-lasting television show. MGM is betting big on this, and to Dynamite, it looks like a great bet."
Revolving around a starship crew displaced in space by way of the stargate technology that drives the entire franchise, "Universe" has been promised by its producers as a much bigger canvass for the Stargate concept, but with the lofty fan expectations such talk brings up, there's also been an air of mystery around the particulars of the show – mysteries which have forced Chuck Dixon to stretch his storytelling muscles in various ways. "I’ve had no direct contact with the show’s producers, though I’d certainly enjoy that," the writer told CBR. "I’ve only been given the first five scripts of the show and whatever I can find online. We’re still working on how the comic will tie-in to the show. The producers have suggested a prequel and I’ve submitted at least one multi-part story idea.”
Dixon continued, “The nature of 'SGU' is an ongoing mystery as to the purpose and direction the crew is being carried towards. That makes it a bit more challenging for me since I don’t know where things are going. I also have to write stories that involve the characters and place them in peril and give them problems to solve. But none of these stories can alter the status quo or reveal anything major about the series. But I like the framework, and I enjoy a challenge, and I already have lots of ideas.
"There’s a sensibility to the SG stuff and a kind of rhythm that I’ve plugged into after watching hundreds of episodes. This series has a bit of different tone but the basic personality of an SG show is here. It’s a surprisingly comfortable fit even though I haven’t seen the show. And the scripts are terrific – very clear and precise to relationships and language without being wordy. These guys lay down the dense exposition in a brisk and entertaining form like no one else in television. Like every other SG show, this one moves along rapidly. Real showmen."
One promise that Dixon can make about how his comics series will play out is that the "Stargate Universe" concept has been built by its creators to eschew some of the standard "ship crossing the unknown" plot devices established by the grandfather of all modern TV sci fi, "Star Trek." "It’s more like you’re in a gigantic haunted house traveling faster than light toward an unknown destination that won’t end in your lifetime,” Dixon said. “I don’t know, but that sounds like a concept no one’s touched on before."
And as for the characters that Dixon will be playing with, his "Universe" series will hew closely to what fans already know of the new show. "Dr. Rush (played by Robert Carlyle) is the key figure here for me. He’s the guy with some, if not all, of the answers,” the writer said. “He’s a prickly pear and a bit of a man of mystery. There’s always the sense that he’s holding something back. I think I’ll have fun with Eli as well. He’s comic relief and the only ‘civilian’ on the show. We kind of see these incredible events through his eyes and he’s never at a loss for a great reaction."
Dynamite will be able to reveal more of its plans for “Stargate” comics once the publisher has had a chance to confirm more details with the harried producers behind the TV adventures. "We're taking it easy because we have no choice. The producers are in such crunch time for Comic-Con because that's going to be their first big reveal,” Barrucci said. “With so much on their plate, it’s understandable that it can take a bit to get us approvals, and on the other series we're starting off 'Stargate SG-1' as Season 11, 'Stargate Atlantis' as Season 6 and 'Stargate Universe' will just start with Season 1 and work as a prelude and as complimentary stories.”
Nick Barrucci couldn’t be happier with the team he’s assembled for Dynamite’s “Stargate” comics. "I'd like to say that I'm honored to work with the array of writers Dynamite is working with. Chuck Dixon is a proficient ‘huntsman,’ I guess is the best word . He's a gun expert, and he can write anything from The Punisher to your private eye next door story to 'G.I. Joe' to 'Stargate' to 'The Man With No Name,' and in all of those he excels in motivating the characters and the way they handle their weapons, better than most. He takes his stories to the edge. And when it comes to Brandon Jerwa, he's a great up-and-coming writer who has hit his stride with 'Battlestar Galactica' for Dynamite, so working with him on ‘Stargate’ is more sci-fi magic for Brandon to hit that stride. And with Doug Murray, he's a legendary writer who's done everything from 'The 'Nam' to 'Red Sonja.' He's worked well on everything."
Primary for all of the books in the Dynamite “Stargate” line will be matching the mixture of military drama with science fiction action that has driven the popularity of the franchise, making it the longest continuously running science fiction series ever. "[Matching the military feel] was key,” Barrucci said. “The last two series were more about setting the military up against a situation that's happening. Now you're in the middle of a revolutionary war where you've got something worse happening on a day-to-day basis."
"I like the military stuff," Dixon noted. "The drama and the stakes are built into the story. Go all the way back to The Iliad and the tropes are all there. One of the things that I like about all the SG series is the respect for the military and the sacrifices our men and women make every day in our defense. There’s always heroics and no hysterics. The soldiers and marines in the series are always portrayed as hard chargers and problem solvers. And there’s no gray areas over what’s at stake and what’s needed to accomplish the goal of victory. There’s so much to like about the concept. The whole idea of a portal that can take you anywhere is such a simple and elegant science fiction springboard. And the shows have always been populated with a rich cast of appealing characters. The storylines are pure escapism and there’s a sense of fun about the shows even in those moments when the galaxy seems doomed."