Monday, September 20, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 229 (9/20) -- StarCraft: Ghost Academy, Vol. 1 by DeCandido & Furukawa

StarCraft: Ghost Academy raises many questions, but all of them are frivolous. For example: how on earth does that woman on the cover manage to put on an uniform with such an advanced case of boobsocks? What kind of interesting cultural stew produced an artist with such an awesome name as Fernando Heinz Furukawa? And who thought it was a good idea to have a graphic novel miniseries that takes place in between two novels based on a multi-player video game? (If there'd only been a concept album somewhere in the mix, it could have hit the media-item jackpot.)

This book -- which is competently written by my old acquaintance Keith R.A. DeCandido, who has built a career out of being able to whip up coherent plots and generally believable characterization out of whatever shards of mediastuff he's thrown [1] -- has the carefully constructed feeling of a elaborate bridge, leading from one point outside this series on to another point that will also be outside the series. Those points are both in the novel Nova, which was coincidentally also written by DeCandido. (So, if you want to do this right, go get the novel and all three volumes of this series, and read the novel right up to the point where Nova Terra [2] goes to the Ghost Academy, then take a graphic novel break before finishing the novel. Or you could just go get DeCandido's non-tie-in novel Dragon Precinct instead, if you prefer something less complicated.)

If you play the game StarCraft, you'll already know the background (and probably be too busy playing the game to read comics anyway). If not, you probably don't care. But, for the three of you ambivalently in the middle, this is set in what seems to be an easy-FTL medium future, with humanity having spread across the galaxy and run through several multi-planet polities and into several kinds of hostile aliens. Under the current Dominion -- which I gather is meant to be seen as cruel, vaguely unpleasant, mildly racist, and imperial in ways not entirely borrowed from Star Wars -- humans with psychic powers are press-ganged off to the "Ghost Academy" in adolescence, where they're trained as soldiers to battle the Dominion's many enemies. Nova is one of these; she's hugely powerful (naturally), but, at the beginning of the book, entirely a lone wolf who refuses to follow the orders of her Team Blue leader Gabriel Tosh.

And so this volume is mostly the story of the socialization of Nova, with a sideline in a secondary's character's drug addiction and the antagonism of a mean new recruit who father is a Dominion bigshot (and who consequently never lets anyone forget it). But it's mostly about Nova learning that she doesn't need to be alone, and that Team Blue is her new family. (I'm not a betting man, but, if I was, I'd lay good money that the rest of them will be pushing up daisies by the end of the series.) It's a SF adventure comic, professional enough despite the fact that most of the characters seem to be naked except for body paint (and the absence of hair, nipples, and genitalia), but really only of interest to gamers who can tear themselves away from their own characters long enough to care about DeCandidio's.

[1] He's even better when allowed to make up stories that don't need to be forcibly shoved into pre-existing intellectual property, but who can make a living on originality these days?

[2] I have great respect for DeCandido, so I fervently hope he was saddled with that wince-inducing name by someone at the licensor, Blizzard.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

1 comment:

Keith R.A. DeCandido said...

*laughs* Yes, Nova Terra was the name I was handed for the character.....

And thanks for the review (and the plug for Dragon Precinct)!

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