Comic(s) Relief: Are Farscape’s Comic-Book Adventures Worth The Trip?

By David Wharton | 6 years ago

FarscapeOne of the best science fiction series ever made just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Farscape originally premiered on March 19, 1999, on what was still called the Sci-Fi Channel at that point. With a motley crew of crazy characters, Muppet aliens, and a twisted sense of humor that often counterbalanced very dark storylines, Farscape was unlike anything we’d seen on television. And in spite of an unexpected cancellation that looked like it’d leave fans in the lurch, the show managed to get a second chance at closure in the form of the 2004 Peacekeeper Wars miniseries.

All these years later, comes the word that maybe, just maybe, we might get a new Farscape TV movie. And I hope so, because that would be awesome. But what you might not realize is that Crichton, Aeryn, Jothee, Chiana, and the rest actually didn’t just settle into a quiet retirement after The Peacekeeper Wars. I mean, they totally intended to — they’d earned their happy ending — but the story of Farscape actually picked up again in 2008, courtesy of comics from BOOM! Studios. Show creator Rockne S. O’Bannon worked with Farscape novelist Keith R.A. DeCandido to plot out the Moya crew’s further adventures through the Uncharted Territories, and the comics are considered official canon by the Jim Henson Company. So if we really might get a new Farscape movie at some point, now is the perfect time to catch up on where the story went after the Peacekeeper Wars reached their climactic end.

BOOM!’s Farscape comics launched with three four-issue mini-series before launching a monthly ongoing title that ran for two years. I’ll be honest: those initial mini-series are a little rocky. The art for the series is never exactly great, but the writing thankfully increases in quality as the series goes on. Once it really hits its stride in the ongoing series, it can be as good as any storyline the TV series series served up.

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First up are those three mini-series that kicked the whole enterprise off. The Beginning of the End of the Beginning has Rygel doing something he’s waited ages for: returning home to reclaim his throne from his traitorous cousin, Bishan. Unfortunately, this is Farscape, so things aren’t nearly as straightforward as Rygel might have hoped. Before you know it, Rygel has been betrayed once again, and John and Aeryn are caught in the middle — and in the crosshairs of a new enemy.

The second mini-series, Strange Detractors, is a classically weird Farscape story that involves a plague sweeping through the Uncharted Territories. This one doesn’t just give you the sniffles, however — it makes you homicidally violent toward pretty much anybody within your line of sight. Given that the crew of Moya have often been at each other’s throats even when they liked each other, suffice to say things get bad, and fast.

Next we come to Volume 3, Gone and Back, and this is easily the best of the mini-series. Thanks to mysterious abilities John and Aeryn’s baby has begun manifesting, Crichton winds up dropped into an “unrealized reality,” one where D’Argo and Zhann are still alive and Crichton is happily married to someone who isn’t Aeryn — because they never met and she’s still a loyal Peacekeeper. Even in an alternate universe, John can’t let that stand, so he sets off on a crazy mission to track down Aeryn and convince her that she can be more than just what she was raised to be.

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With the ongoing series, the stage is swiftly set for the story arc that will dominate the two-year run: the so-called “War for the Uncharted Territories.” See, Crichton may have put an end to the tussle between the Peacekeepers and Scarrans, but a brand new Big Bag has designs for the Uncharted Territories. Emerging from a portal into “Grey Space,” a thought-mythic species known as the Kkore have returned, and their plans involve nothing less than the utter conquest of known space. These guys are far worse than anything Crichton and crew have ever faced, a tactically brilliant, seemingly unstoppable force that topples or exterminates one species after another. But Farscape has always pitted its heroes against impossible odds, and they always rise to the occasion — even if not all of them come out of it alive. (Is that the case here? I’ll never say.)

The “War for the Uncharted Territories” arc ramps up until the comic is truly worthy of standing next to the show that spawned it, culminating in an epic series of showdowns, sacrifices, and one hell of a twist that this die-hard Farscape fan never saw coming.

There is also a series of short miniseries focused on D’Argo’s backstory and quest for vengeance, but they’re not required reading like the core ongoing comic is. There’s also a Scorpius spin-off series that ties directly into the “War for the Uncharted Territories” arc, and I would recommend checking that one out as well. It’s fun to see Scorpius trying to play his usual mind games to ensure he’s on the winning side in the brewing war, but it’s even more fun to watch him realize that he is utterly outclassed.

Since the comics have been acknowledged as canon, I’ll be really curious to see how the TV movie — if it happens — addresses the huge events they explore. But even if we don’t get anymore Farscape, the comic is a great conclusion to the story, one I like even better than where The Peacekeeper Wars left us.

Most of the Farscape comics were collected into several trade paperback form, but I highly recommend going digital instead. Comixology has the entire run available as e-comics, which you can read on a tablet or even in your browser. Click here, and share the wonders I’ve seen…

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