Apr 26, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 791: Command Review v.1, July 1986

https://www.comics.org/issue/64230/

A bit of a break from the second quarter of the collection, because I wanted to read this comic and after I had I realized it was really excellent and I wanted to say a few things about it.

First, I want to say the bad stuff, though. The comic is absolutely rife with spelling and grammatical errors, which is why it is so very important to have some independent editing, preferably by someone like myself whose spent a kind of insane amount of time dealing with language. The errors aren't huge, but I find that a spelling or grammar error in a piece of speculative fiction tends to pull me out of the setting, to hamper my suspension of disbelief. Now, this is certainly not to say that I'm not guilty of it myself on occasion, which is also why I recommend to my students that they have a couple of people read over a paper before handing it in. It's a small thing, but a fundamental one.

Okay, that said, this comic sets up a wonderful and thoroughly convincing hard sci-fi setting starring anthropomorphic animals, and is tackling politics and feminism while also giving us some pretty great military space action. It reminds me a great deal of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica from the early 2000s, in that it's willing to take a fairly ridiculous setting and wrap remarkably intelligent plots about it. Our lead character, Erma Felna is a woman in a man's military. From the little hints I've gleaned thus far, her animal society is very protective of women, but there's something almost Handmaid's Tale-esque about how it's handled. After seeing ground combat and showing herself to be quite capable, Erma's superiors ship her off to a backwater so that her heroic deeds, the subtext seems to be saying, can't disseminate too far into the rest of the population. Much as our focal character is heroic, it seems the organization she belongs to is less so.

Writer/Artist Steve Galllacci handles the balances I've noted in this comic with great ease. The four reprinted stories from Albedo Anthropomorphics in this issue were originally published between September 1984 and August 1985, and Mr. Gallacci's art improves a great deal even over such a short time. There's a huge amount of Erma Felna material still out there waiting for me, the Albedo series having gone through a few publishers before going on indefinite hiatus in 2005. Good thing the comic con is coming up this weekend!

One last thing about this comic - it's probably the one with the earliest reading time of any in the project so far. After my surgery yesterday, I couldn't sleep. My nose was packed with about a foot an a half of gauze, so I had to breathe through my mouth. Anyone's whose had a cold will understand the difficulty. So my lovely wife, in solidarity, and myself got up around 3 AM, and I read Command Review. I've read that this was actually a regular practice in some Victorian homes, to get up, have a cup of tea, read, and then head back to bed. I can see why. It was really rather pleasant.

Though I'd rather have been sleeping.

To be continued.

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