Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Farscape: War Torn


Oh look, it’s still not Peacekeeper Wars.

Yeah, about that… So not only did we have every intention of doing a Peacekeeper Wars piece soon after finishing season 4, but we actually started to write it. We ran into some conflicts over how it should be laid out and put a pin in it, and before we had a chance to start it up again, life happened. Marriages, breakups, moves, job changes, sired offspring, cats, new projects. Life kept giving us other stuff we needed to prioritize, so instead of bringing some closure to this long-running piece, we held off so long that we started to move on.

So here’s my promise.

I vow, by the end of next month (May, 2014), to do a full writeup of Peacekeeper Wars. Hell, I already started one way back when, just need to dust it off and finish it. I hope the others will have a chance to jot down their thoughts when they have the time to, but it’s been quite a while and everyone is in different places in their lives than they were two years ago, so don’t hold it against them if they can’t. But at least I can give you all something, some little bit of closure to wrap this delay up so we can say this thing we started has, to a degree, been finished.

Until then, I dug this tie-in out while recently moving and figured I should give it a writeup before it’s tucked back in storage again. Farscape: War Torn was a two-issue mini-series put out by WildStorm in 2002, with the main story being split among two 40-page installments, and a back-up spread among a pair of 8-page segments.

Let’s start with Warn Torn, broken in the halves “Rocks and Hard Places” and “Paradise Lost”.

Centuries ago, a voice echoed from the world of Tivira, telling people to come. It was heard by two races – the deeply spiritual Kylei and the proud warrior Garangee – both of whom believe it to be the voice of their respective god, calling them to settle on a blessed paradise. Both arrive at the same time and quickly reach a stalemate, settling on neighboring worlds while trying to work out a treaty which will allow them both to share the world. The Kylei have build their temporary planet into a lush forest focused on meditation and spiritual renewal. The Garangee have dug their world into an industrial complex which has quickly run down as the warrior race has found themselves without anyone to war with for generations.

Into this tense standoff blunders our heroes, as they’re looking to restock on food and fix an issue with Moya’s temperature regulation. This story is set near the end of season 1, after Chiana’s joined the crew and Scorpius has been introduced, but before the events of the two-part season finale.

John, Zhann, and Chiana head to the Kylei world where they find food in such abundance that the people freely part with it. Zhaan forges a deep connection to with the priests of the populace, and John’s spirit is briefly merged with that of the leader Tulahh, a beautiful woman saving him from an injury.

Aeryn, D’Argo, and Rygel head to the Garangee world to get the parts needed to fix Moya, and as Aeryn and D’Argo struggle to make the needed repairs, they’re struck by seeing how broken in spirits the once fellow proud race of warriors has fallen.

It’s not long before Kylei ships launch a sneak attack on Garangee, and Garangee ships launch a sneak attack on Kylei, and everyone is pointing fingers (even our heroes don’t know who to blame) while governments deny it’s their actions and the treaty is threatened. They eventually decide to go ahead with the signing, but even the neutral territory it takes place in is attacked, leaving leaders dead and open war declared.

As to what Chiana and Rygel have been up to this whole time… Rygel starts selling his services to both sides, giving both the same training and strategies which give neither an upper hand as he profits more and more from the escalation of the conflict. Chiana, while poking around looking for riches, stumbles across an underground alliance between both races, which have been attacking their own people in disguise so as to undo the treaty, as both sides feel Tivira can belong to only one.

There’s lot of great character moments as the war unfolds, with Rygel rolling in his greed until it gets out of control and leads to potential mutually assured destruction. Chiana trying to get the truth out less because it’s the right thing to do, more because she’s pissed at being chased with lasers on her tail. Aeryn and D’Argo, both of whom know war all too well, still being stunned by the depths of devastation unfolding around them. John holding a dying Tulahh in his arms, and trying to break the news to her daughter, Talalee, unaware the girl is the leader of the underground group who triggered this war. And Zhaan wailing in a field of burning gardens and slain priests, grabbing a weapon and roaring as she fires it into the ships passing by overhead.

As written by comic legend Marv Wolfman, this is a really damn solid storyline and, had they the budget to pull the war off on screen, would have made for a fantastic episode. It takes a totally stand-alone story and escalates it to point where it resonates on its own, then goes the extra step further of emotionally investing our characters (who are all perfectly written in character), so that we feel the resonance through how it affects them. This is skilled stuff and it’s a shame Wolfman wasn’t able to do any issues for the franchise beyond this.

The art, though, is a mixed bag. It’s lushly colored in all the oranges and blues of the show, but it has the problem a lot of heavily referenced, photo-realistic work in that, while many of the images are nicely crafted, they don’t always make for a good narrative flow across the page. And some stillframe expressions can come off looking silly at points where they’re trying to convey drama, or flat when trying to convey humor. It still works well enough, though, and Robert Taranishi (with inks by Keith Aiken and Al Gordon) does a nice job of giving both guest races distinct looks and distinct worlds. The action is a bit stiff, but this is largely a character piece, so those moments are few and far between.

And it all caps nicely at the end as we reveal the voice of the “god” who summoned them was really just a dead ship with a malfunctioning SOS emitter, that crashed on a rock thousands of years ago, and all of this fighting has been over a heap of rust on a world of dust. Which neither side accepts as they continue their war and the heroes get the hell out of there.

The back-up story “Fourth Horseman”, again written by Wolfman, follows Chiana as, while on layaway, she finds herself being pursued by Nebari mind-slavers. They’re actually after a contingent of the Nebari underground, led by Eadon, one of Chiana’s old lovers and best friend of her brother. They all get away, but what they don’t realize is they’ve all been infected with an STD with the hopes they’ll fuck their way through the cosmos, spreading a contagion that saps other races of will and makes them easier to conquer.

Chiana quickly figures this out, as she and her brother once dealt with the virus and she’s already been immunized with a cure. She falls for Eadon, there’s a spy, they set up a trap… and Chiana’s knocked out, watching from an escape pod as Eadon and the other infected Nebari kamikaze themselves into the space station where the contagion is being manufactured.

This is a story that really needed a lot more room and scope to work, as it rushes through a lot of information faster than it has a chance to stick, cheats by already giving Chiana a past and immunity to this virus, and ultimately lacks any weight because of how little time we get to spend with anyone. Which isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s just ultimately slight and unmoving.

I actually like the art better here than in the main story, though. Carlos Mota (again inked by Keith Aiken) has a very clean, flowing look reminiscent of Leonard Kirk (one of my favs!), and captures the likeness of Chiana well without feeling like it’s being traced. It moves along with great expression and energy, shame the story couldn’t keep up with it.

4 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Tessa

     /  April 23, 2014

    Put me down for trying to follow up on my original write-up as well. A lot of the blame can be pinned on me for us never actually getting a structured post out at the time also since I was a big part of us not being able to decide on a posting structure for it and if I recall correctly I don’t think we ever agreed on anything for it.

    Just doing a full write-up for Peacekeeper Wars separately on our own time as a final send-off (or maybe not, with a movie supposedly for-realsies happening?) seems like a good idea, and I’m sure I can get off my butt and bang something out by the end of the month.

    • Tessa

       /  April 23, 2014

      And by “the end of the month” I mean “the end of next month”, because getting anything productive done during the rest of this month is probably not going to happen because moving and all. Whoops.

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