Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book, watching the V mini-series (Original Miniseries and The Final Battle) and the 1984 TV series, and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Back in the 1980s – a time when Netflix, Blu-ray, social and other forms of digital entertainment were not yet realized – watching a special show on television was really something. During that particular decade, science fiction in cinema was already popular (thanks to George Lucas and Star Wars plus the resurgence of Star Trek) but there was still room for growth on the TV market.
Then came the very memorable sci-fi TV mini-series titled V (also referred to as V: The Original Miniseries) in 1983 which not only became a big hit with viewers but also brought the sci-fi concept of reptiloids (reptilian humanoids) to the mainstream. The mini-series also had parallels to the Nazis and the Holocaust. The original mini-series was such a big hit, it spawned a sequel mini-series titled V: The Final Battle (1984) and even a TV series (1984-1985).
Created by Kenneth Johnson, V became a popular franchise and made stars out of Marc Singer (The Beastmaster), Faye Grant, Michael Ironside (Total Recall) and Jane Badler. Even though there never was a movie made, V was popular enough to have a line of novels, a video game and even a comic book series!
With the history lesson done, it’s high time to start taking a look back at V #1, published in 1985 by DC Comics with a story written by Cary Bates and illustrated by Carmine Infantino.
The story begins in the city of Los Angeles, California, with millions of locals try to co-exist with the visitors (reptilian beings disguised as humans) who are armed and still have power over Earth’s people. Los Angeles stands as a so-called neutral zone but some things are not what they seem.
Inside a restaurant, Mike Donovan, Julie Parrish, Ham Tyler and Chris Farber talk about their situation. For Ham and Chris, the neutral zone stinks but for Mike, the current situation spares the city from turning into an open battlefield. Suddenly, three men wearing trench coats standing by the bar pull their guns out and fire at Mike and his companions who take cover…
Before discussing the quality of this comic book, I should state that having sufficient knowledge about the two TV mini-series and the TV series is required in order to understand what has been going on in the literary tale and who the characters are.
On quality, let’s start with the storytelling done by Cary Bates. It is clear Bates carefully researched the TV materials to make a comic book script that pretty much captures not only the essence of V but also the notable differences of each character (examples: Tyler is sarcastic, Mike is determined, Willie occasionally speaks with a misplaced word, and Diana is sadistic). This comic book’s plot was written to be aligned with the events of the TV series as it is clear that its tale took place some time after the climax of V: The Final Battle.
When it comes to translating V’s essence from TV to comic book format, Bates script worked surprisingly well and more importantly there was a careful balance between exposition, plotting, spectacle and suspense. When it comes to character development, what you get from the TV series (in terms of doing characterization) is also present here.
When it comes to visuals, Carmine Infantino’s work is serviceable. The artist did what was possible with the script provided although there were key moments in which the panels and drawings were structured to be a little disorienting. Was this Infantino’s way of trying to be dynamic with the visuals? Lastly, don’t expect to see the major characters resemble their TV counterparts. Ham does not look like Michael Ironside, Mike does not look like Marc Singer and Julie does not look like Faye Grant.
I can say it straight that V #1 is a solid science fiction comic book that specifically will strongly resonate with fans of the V franchise’s entertainment of the 1980s. This comic book strongly captures the essence of the V franchise, specifically the TV series itself, and the good news is that the major characters are nicely dramatized which should delight fans. That being said, it’s tricky to recommend this to people who did not grow up with nor knew the V mini-series and TV series. When it comes to trading and making money out of this comic book, you could be in luck.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of V #1 (1985), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $33.
Overall, V #1 (1985) is highly recommended specifically for the fans and the collectors. Those who are not oriented with the franchise need to see the mini-series and TV series first in order to realize this comic book’s value.
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