So Titan has the Independence Day comic book rights. That’s a good thing. Out of all the companies out there the only two I’d trust with a movie or television show adaptation is Titan or Dark Horse, both companies take great care in giving you stories that add to the property not hijack it.
That being said maybe Titan could’ve strayed a little further from the source material with this one. Independence Day, for those youngsters or under rock dwellers out there, was a blockbuster action sci-fi film in 1996 starring a bunch of people and making many many dollars at the box office (somewhere in the neighborhood of $817.4 million.) I was 26 at the time and I remember it being a touchstone for myself and my friends. Will Smith over-acted his way through scene after scene of pithy one-liners (Welcome to Earth! and such) and Jeff Goldblum did his self-effacing nasally smoldering geek scientist character proud. This movie was a xenophobic stereotypical misogynistic masterpiece. If you were to pick it apart almost every character was a perfect stereotype. Smith is the badass smack talking streetwise hero, Goldblum is the bleeding heart whiny liberal scientist, Bill Pullman is so wannabe Kennedy as President it’s almost embarrasing, even Vivica A Fox, who played Jasmie Dubrow, is the “stripper with the heart of gold”, yet still I must watch some of it when it’s on. C’mon; Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, Judd Hirsh, Bill Pullman, Mary McDonnel, Robert Loggia, Vivica A Fox, Adam Baldwin, Brent Spiner, it’s a veritable who’s who of 80’s thru 90’s Hollywood. But that’s kind of my point. Because of the era, the cast, the blockbuster budget, Roland Emmerich could get away with making what is arguably his most misogynistic, most racist movie (alright, alright one of okay?)
So now the next chapter is coming to the big screen this June with Independence Day: Resurgence and a third movie has been announced. What better time to expand that universe in to the comic book world! And expand is exactly what Titan is doing. The story runs parallel to the events in the ’96 film, we join the crew of a submarine that has been tasked with investigating a downed alien ship, a different type of ship than we were seeing above the cities of the world. And the US government has sent the best man for the job (oh and his science type female side kick) to investigate.
Now maybe that last sentence seems a bit harsh but early in the story, when brought on the submarine Captain Joshua Adams tells the captain of the submarine that he’s only the “military liaison” and that Doctor Jessica Morgan is the one in charge of the mission. Now they establish that Dr Morgan is “from the President’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology” and our military liaison tells us she’s in charge. But it only takes a few panels before we’re treated to Captain Adams catching Dr Morgan half-dressed, a scene where he also refers to the sub’s commander by her first name (though we’ve never been given any name for her besides “Captain”.) Dr. Morgan, rather than being the least bit offended by Adams barging into her room while she’s dressing, shrugs it off and says “You seem anxious Captain, surely that can’t be the first time you’ve seen a brassiere.”
Okay, it’s an action adventure sci-fi comic book, this stuff should seem normal. But it doesn’t anymore. Why make the commander of the sub a woman, but give her no identity? Why make the “boss” a woman but treat her like something to ogle? I really wanted to just mark those two things as errors or oversights but it happens again.
As the sub nears the alien ship, alien drones (that are somehow space ships and submarines I guess?) zoom toward our intrepid heroes. The crew on the bridge is scrambling to figure out how to handle this threat. We have an accomplished submarine commander (her resume established through exposition), a science advisor to the President of the United States, and a military liaison with the rank of Captain. Guess who decides how to handle the approaching bad guys. I have a feeling you got it in one guess. Not only does the sub commander disagree with him, she actually wants to turn and run but our hero convinces her to stay and risk her crew and boat. He’s right of course and they prevail. And then we’re treated to a panel right out of a romance comic, we’re looking over Captain Adams shoulder Dr Morgan gazing up at him with her hand on his shoulder “Do me a favor? Keep being right.” This could all be kind considered goofy and fun if Adams were presented like a jerk. But his character is the straight ahead likable leading man. There’s no irony present in the dialogue, no nudge or wink to indicate it’s not to be taken at face value. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Seems the more I read over the issue the more I see that the two women of rank are merely there for Captain Adams to explain what he thinks should be done next. He is obviously not only the hero but the very catalyst of any and all story movement.
Let’s pause here for a moment. This may seem like an unfair attack on a writer but don’t make that mistake. I’m a big fan of Victor Gischler. Sally of the Wasteland showed exactly how to do a tongue-in-cheek, racy, fun story right. I loved every issue. His work on Angel & Faith Season 10, not to mention Wolverine, Punisher Max, Deadpool Corps, it’s all stuff I enjoy. So I must admit I read this book with one eyebrow raised. Where was the punchline? When would the women speak up.
Now there is a fairly plausible reason for this. Captain Adams is a character in Independence Day: Resurgence. He’s billed as General Adams and played by veteran character actor William Fitchner. And the resemblance in the comic is uncanny, artist Steve Scott (and Stefani Rennee on colors, Rodney Ramos on inks) does a more than admirable job in all aspects of the art and design of this book. So I get it, it’s a tie-in, a lead up to the new film, a way to give enough of us some background on a character so that when the trailers start and the internet is talking about who’s who there will be some cool back story out there for people to work with. But I really think there were other ways to do this one. Not every story needs to have a female lead, but it just seems like a step backward to publish a comic where the women seem germane to the story but in all actuality are not. Obviously this is issue one. The whole story could turn on its ear next month. I really hope it does, because if this issue is an accurate representation of the series (and possible the film) it’s going to be a disappointment to many. We love when you resurrect our past, but please don’t let the mistakes of the past ruin what could be great stories of now.
What do you think? Are scenes like the one’s described above deal breakers for you? Are you, like me, hopeful that Mr Gischler will balance the scales as the series goes on?
Pick up a copy of Independence Day #1 at your local comic shop on March 23d, read it, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Check out the preview and variant covers…
INDEPENDENCE DAY #1
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artists: Steve Scott
PUBLISHER: TITAN COMICS
PAGE COUNT: 32PP
RELEASE DATE: March 23
COVER A – Movie Cover
COVER B – Dio Neves
COVER C – Lee Garbett
COVER D – John McCrea
COVER E – Blank Sketch