Tony Black reviews Independence Day #1-5…
On the eve of Independence Day: Resurgence, a blockbuster sequel two decades in the making, Titan Comics have jumped on the prequel bandwagon to deliver this limited-run, five issue story set just after the original Independence Day film, from writer Victor Gischler & artist Tazio Bettin. The hook is that it features a character named Joshua Adams, here a young Army Captain, who will be played by William Fichtner in the present day Resurgence as an older man, now a General. His will likely be a supporting military role, a la Robert Loggia in the original movie, which allows this comic the freedom to add some extra shades to his character in advance of the picture, using him as the catalyst for telling a story which functions as a fairly standalone chapter in the ‘ID4Verse’, while throwing in some hints and suggestions as to elements that may crop up in the new movie.
The premise is a fairly simple one, as really are all the plots connected to Independence Day. After the successful fight back against the 1996 invasion (which we won thanks to a Windows 95 virus, remember!), one of the alien vessels appears to crash land deep in the Atlantic Ocean. Fearing the battle may not quite be over, the US military dispatch Captain Adams along with an exobiologist, Dr Jessica Morgan, to head in a US nuclear submarine to the wreckage in order to investigate and prevent any further destruction. The first issue deals with establishing the narrative, introducing the characters, allowing for a little awkward flirtation between Adams & Morgan and establishing, bizarrely, the man has a crippling fear of water thanks to a childhood tragedy. This character point is swiftly cast aside & ignored, so either it’s being saved for a reason in Resurgence, or they realised it was a bit daft.
Come the second issue, Gischler begins kicking his narrative into gear and looks for a creeping, Alien-esque vibe of Adams & a team of rather bullish Marines exploring the mysterious alien craft, and it does allow for slightly more of an exploration of the ID4 aliens technology and scope than we’ve previously seen in the last film. Ultimately Gischler’s story rapidly becomes an action piece over the next few issues however, leaving the moments of character in the first scene-setting issue largely behind in order to have Adams & the group exploring the alien vessel, fighting the tentacled alien gribblies, and having pitched submarine battles against the alien ships.
To be fair, it gives the piece a different flavour to Independence Day while still remaining true to its all-American sense of brio; with most of the story taking place in underwater, claustrophobic surroundings, it’s more of a taut and compact tale about the residual after-effects of the alien invasion, with a world-threatening ultimate plan by the aliens which doesn’t intrude on continuity. It also does allow Gischler to layer in a few clues about the alien physiology through the Morgan character which could end up factoring into Resurgence, and issue two sees the nice addition of her autopsy report notes at the end.
Alongside the solid if unremarkable writing and characterisation, artist Bettin delivers plenty of entertaining and explosive panels, but at times his artwork looks a little too colourless and samey, which perhaps is more a fault of the story than his talent. Nonetheless, overall, it’s an engaging if fairly throwaway prequel set of issues, mainly connecting to Resurgence thanks to one or two clues and giving some backstory context to the William Fichtner character from the next movie.
Importantly, even if you hadn’t seen ID4, you could probably pick this up and enjoy it simply as a piece of science-fiction – chances are though this will mainly appeal to fans of the wider Independence Day world. Perhaps better worth picking up in trade, it’s nevertheless a fun little tie in.
Tony Black is a freelance film/TV writer & podcaster & would love you to follow him on Twitter.