The Stargates are opening up at Dynamite Entertainment. After announcing last month that it had nabbed the license rights for TV's currently reigning champ of old school, mission-oriented science fiction, the publisher takes its first step through the world-hopping wateriness of the entire Stargate world with a specially-priced #0 issue hitting shops this October. Introducing the creative teams and storylines for "Stargate Universe," "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis" series, the $1.00 comic book dishes up 22-pages of story much like past launches from the publisher.
Last month, CBR caught up with writer Chuck Dixon about his plans for the new TV show tie-in "Stargate Universe," and with the actual launch coming closer, we speak now with the respective ongoing writers of "SG-1" and "Atlantis," Brandon Jerwa and Doug Murray.
"I was a latecomer to the franchise, I’ll admit," Jerwa told CBR, saying that though he was only a casual "Stargate" fan before the past year, he caught up on the entire ten-year run of "SG-1" just months before Dynamite called with the writing gig. "To say that I was surprised when Dynamite approached me to be part of their Stargate launch is a massive understatement; I guess it was really a pleasant coincidence coming together. I agreed to join in without knowing which series I’d be writing, but we came to the mutual conclusion pretty quickly that 'SG-1' was really the best fit."
Jerwa plans on using his past sci-fi chops from titles like "Battlestar Galactica" to good use in the Stargate world while still matching the unique tone of "SG-1." "I like the Stargate franchise because it combines the exploratory wonder of classic 'Star Trek' with some cool military action, but it does it all with a sense of humor and fun. Science fiction isn’t really that fun very often and I have to admit, it’s a welcome change from some of the other things I’ve been working on! That’s not to say that the book won’t be deadly serious at times. When things turn dangerous in the TV series, it’s never a cakewalk. The stakes are high and the threats are very real. The same will be true for the comics."
In the #0 issue, Jerwa plans on puling readers into his bigger series as fast as he can. "My chapter is a classic teaser and definitely gives you something to worry about until the start of the series proper, but it’s also a nice little open doorway into the SG-1 universe for anyone who might be joining us for the first time," Jerwa said. "I have some overall plans for at least 12 issues worth of stories. I want to structure it like a season of the TV show as much as we can. Four issues equal, roughly, a two-part episode; one to two issues will be standalone stories that may or may not have an impact on the overall story.
"There will be two distinct plotlines when we start. One focuses on Daniel Jackson as he comes into contact with a woman from his past, and the other has Cameron, Sam and Teal’C on a mission in a prototype ship to investigate a very major deep space anomaly. How these stories may or may not come together will be revealed in the fullness of time."
Of course, without budget of casting constrictions on the comics page, Jerwa explained that he'll be able to tap into the full cast from "SG-1's" long TV run. "The Season 10 cast will be key players, but you can’t keep Jack O’Neill out of the picture for too long. And besides, he’s far too much fun to write. Budget is no obstacle, as you say, and I am definitely keeping that in mind in terms of casting and special effects. “Go big or go home” is my mantra going into this."
Covering the floating city side of the Stargate equation, Doug Murray steps onto "Stargate Atlantis" with a strong knowledge of the series and franchise. "I have been a fan of the Stargate Franchise almost from day one," Murray told CBR. A chance preview of "SG-1" at a past San Diego convention led to his watching the series, and later work for Creation Conventions allowed Murray to meet and interact with Stargate cast members.
"My initial impression of the Stargate series was that it was a clever way to do an adventure show, spreading the action around to many planets and many villains,” Murray explained. “As it progressed, it got more into character and became more interesting because of it. 'Atlantis' started off as a sort of weaker sibling, but when they introduced Ronon they ramped things up a bit, and the action became more personal—also, I thought Joe Flannigan really added a touch of snark to the show—which worked for me."
One area of the series that excited Murray as a writer was the strong military bent Stargate holds, synching up well with his past work on classics like Marvel's "The 'Nam." "People on TV (and movies and comics) usually don’t really understand how the military works," Murray explained. "I’ve always been a little annoyed by that. I’ll give you a concrete example. In the new ‘G.I. Joe’ movie -- based on characters that were, for the most part, created by my longtime friend Larry Hama -- we see Duke wearing Major’s insignia and a stubble in dress blues! Later, he is always addressed as Captain. That means either they didn’t know what the insignia meant (which I find impossible to believe), or they didn’t care!
"On the Stargate shows, they’ve done a fine job of actually showing the workings of the military. Ranks are consistent, people get promoted on a regular basis, and orders come down through channels—just like they should. This allows the show writers (and me, now), to provide a kind of internal continuity that grounds the show in reality. I mean, guys are flying between stars and using energy weapons—but they celebrate when a Captain is promoted to Major, just like folks in the real military would do. The only problem I have with all this is the fact that they’re Air Force—no service is less likely to produce ground troops for this kind of mission than the Air Force. Ah well, you can’t get everything right!"
Like Jerwa on "SG-1," Murray's plans for "Atlantis" involve picking up the show's threads as a "Season 6" for the cast of characters. "I pick up in issue #0 right where the show left off, with the Atlantis in San Francisco harbor and the crew having a break. That break turns to something else when a problem rears its ugly head—and that’s the basis of the opening story," Murray said, noting that the first arc of the series will take place entirely on Earth before space-bound adventures overtake the cast.
“I am trying to deal with some evolution of the characters—I get into the relationship between Rodney and Keller, and the one between Sheppard and Ronon," Murray added. He wishes to wrap dangling threads from the series in a character-specific sense. "Like anyone else, I have my favorites in the cast. Sheppard and McKay will remain as the central characters, with Ronon as the action guy. I’ll do a little more with Ronon than they’ve done on the show in recent days, and I’m sure I’ll bring in a couple of new characters. There’s a young lady named Larrin that appeared in a few episodes that I have my eye on—she’ll have something to do when the Atlantis—and Sheppard-- return to the Pegasus galaxy."
And with a return to space, fans of "Atlantis" can expect to see some big name villains over the course of the series, though many of them may not appear immediately. "Well, the Wraith are still out there—and as Atlantis left the Pegasus Galaxy when it did, we don’t really know what happened to them—or how they will evolve now that their basic life chemistry has been changed,” Murray hinted. “We also know that the Replicators are still out there—although not as powerfully as before. I think I can use them—in different ways—to tell some interesting stories. And there are a lot of races we haven’t even discovered yet. Who says the Atlantis even goes back to the same planet it was on?"
Overall, the questions raised in "Stargate" #0 should draw in longtime fans of the series as well as readers curious to see what the fuss is about, or as Jerwa put it, "I feel like we have a solid starting point for moving ahead. Once I have an idea of how long this series is going to continue, I may go back and examine some dangling threads from the TV show. At the outset, I want as clean a slate as possible."