Sunday, May 16, 2010

Graphic Novel Review: Starship Troopers, by et al.

By Warren Ellis, Gordon Rennie, Jan Stanad, Bruce Jones, Dark Horse Comics, 1998?

This is my second time testing a graphic novel (I need to back-review the first one I read). It's based off of the film version of Starship Troopers rather than the book by Robert Heinlein (review here), and, therefore, is rather defeated before it ever even started. (This is ignoring the fact that I see "graphic novels" as nothing more than glorified comic books--a subject that isn't my favorite.) If you haven't already, I first recommend you check out my review of the original before continuing.

Its basically a little piece comprised of three short stories:

Insect Touch
The best out of the three (if that amounts to much, that is), this tale dealt with the humans' first encounter with the alien bugs. I liked the quick portion in the cockpit of the ship (lots of sci-fi space jargon) and also liked the "Mars camouflage" that the troopers wore. Other than that, just a collection of scenes with bugs tearing apart and eating soldiers. Rather worthless. (Omigosh! And did I see a trooper carelessly leaving his rifle dissassembled on the floor?)

Brute Creations
A tale told from Lt. Raczak's perspective (a character melded with Dubois from the book), this one dealt more in depth with the movie's reference to "Port Joe Smith", a Mormon colony on a bug-infested planet. Inside the quarantine zone and therefore illegal, the settlement is populated by several hundred annoying, pacifistic Mormons. Instead of fighting for their lives and the lives of their families, they flee to their temple when the bugs attack, where they hope that, by following the advice of Joseph Smith (as quoted, "How will the serpent ever lose its venom while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless before the brute creation, and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race...the lion and the lamb can dwell together."), the bugs will somehow be swayed into more peaceful behavior. My issue with this is clear; one, I can't stand any form of pacifism, and two, while I'm certainly not a defender of the Mormon church, honesty bids me to say that I felt that this was not a fair depiction of Mormons. While I cannot and will not speak for the Mormon church and honestly cannot be certain about Joseph Smith's full intention behind that quote, what I can say is that, in my experience, a picture of whacked, deluded crazies just doesn't fit with the program. The fact that aliens do not exist is irrelevant for the moment; would you really stand by as enormous insect-like beasts ate your kids? Do we have any evidence that true Mormons would respond any differently than we would? The Mormon settlers seem to view the "bugs" almost as another nation, that the Terran Federation has wronged, but, really, give me a break. Although, I must also admit that this post-Verhoeven story feels disrespectful to many proper things, and perhaps this is just a dim-witted stab at religion in general (the only survivor undergoes a change, ends up cursing at the bugs, then joins up with the Federation). This was also a disastrous portrayal of the Dubois character. But, on the bright side, they did add a little interesting bit about the bugs mandibles secreting an anti-coagulant! (Whooptee-doo.) Oh, and honestly though, kudos about the "frying bacon" reference (fans of the novel will know what I mean).

The Official Movie Adaptation
This is basically a poorly-adapted novelization in comic book format. Incredibly short, weak, not even completely true to the film and not even near far enough away from it...what a waste of time. The sex scene is not present, although inferred, but the shower scene from the film is present, although anatomy is clouded by steam. (That, coupled with the enormous amounts of very graphic violence and gore, as well as language, throughout all of the stories makes this very unsuitable to be labeled "young adult".)

The introduction is written by the film's scriptwriter, Ed Neumeier, and it's also a bit of an irksome piece to me. I know that Heinlein's work is so controversial (just look at the comments in my review of it!), but again, I strongly disagree with the fascistic, militaristic interpretation (which Neumeier advances here).

So what did--could--I expect, honestly? The cover truly says it all--the exception to the rule "don't judge a book by its cover". This is nothing more than a Verhoeven-esque travesty. I've been moving towards consumption of anything and everything Starship Troopers since reading the original; perhaps the most dissappointing thing about the whole book is that it ends. That led me to read this, but as I pretty much knew what I was coming into I honestly expected about as much as I got.

What a rotten waste of time. I am thoroughly displeased.


P.S. Special thanks goes to a friend for help with the Mormon question.


Lizzy said...

'Graphic Novel' - isn't that just a fancy way of saying 'comic book'? :P LOL

Sounds something like Starcraft (I think that was the name-) a weird computer game my brothers use to play... weird bug-like creatures (The Zerg) fight humankind. My take? Whahevah.
I'll tell you, Alfred Hitchcock started all this drivel with "The Birds" --- trying to make something insignificant into something *scary* - Sci Fi was just the next step IMO.

I'll have to read your review of the book later. :)

The Warrior said...

'Graphic Novel' - isn't that just a fancy way of saying 'comic book'? :P LOL

Indeed! LOL

As to sci-fi, I know what you mean. To be honest, though, sometime later I should blog about this...but I've been testing certain areas of sci-fi and, although the vast majority is very weak, there are areas where you might get a good book or movie, believe it or not!

Hope all is well?