Dynamite Entertainment announced a number of new titles prior to and during New York Comic Con, helmed by heavyweights like Mark Waid, Rick Remender, Garth Ennis and Andy Diggle, but the publisher went out of this world to tap talent for the renewal of its classic “Battlestar Galactica” series.
The intergalactic superstar writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are writing a sequel to Marc Guggenheim’s “Battlestar Galactica: 1980,” with the new series set to take flight in 2013. Over the past decade, DnA have successfully collaborated on several space-themed series, including “The Legion,” “The Authority,” “Nova” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
CBR News connected with Lanning, a long-time fan of the original “Battlestar Galactica” TV series, and the Brit who co-created DC Comics’ “Resurrection Man” with Abnett and Butch Guice shared his thoughts on the strength of Guggenheim’s series, flash-forwarding the Earth and its populace 33 years into the future and who might be the President in he and Abnett’s fictional account of 2013: Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.
CBR News: At New York Comic Con Dynamite announced that you and Dan are signed to write the sequel to Marc Guggenheim’s “Battlestar Galactica: 1980.” What’s the new series’ title? “Battlestar Galactica: 1981?”
Andy Lanning: [Laughs] No. What we found fascinating about the possibility of doing this is that we’re picking up the story present day. In effect, it’s 33 years later. Again, we found that to be a really fascinating proposition because it’s in continuity with the really good Marc Guggenheim series. Marc re-imagined the premise of “Battlestar Galactica: 1980,” in that they’ve returned to Earth and decided to secretly infiltrate it in to basically share their technology to ready the planet for the Cylon invasion.
Marc’s series took that notion and set [it] in a very real world setting of 1980 so it was against the backdrop of the Cold War, the Russians in Afghanistan and all this heavy, heavy nuclear proliferation doom and gloom.
His series had a dark, edgy real-world feel to it and at the end of it Battlestar Galactica had been blown up, [Admiral] Adama sacrificed himself, taking out [Gaius] Baltar and the Cylon fleet and the Capricians were revealed and now part of the culture. We’re picking up 33 years on from there and what we’re dealing with is an alternate reality based on 33 years of sharing alien technology and retrofitting that into modern day society.
Our starting point is that if you look at how significantly different the world is now from 1980 with just normal technological human development and imagine, you add to that super-science from the stars, that’s what we found to be a really interesting proposition.
You mentioned the deaths of Adama and Baltar but “1980” also ended with Apollo, Starbuck and most of the main cast dead or, at best, their fates unknown. Who takes the lead in your series?
Of the cast Marc left us living [Laughs] after killing everybody, we’re left predominantly with Troy [Adama], who is the grown-up son of Apollo or Boxey, as he was known in the original series, as well as, Dr. Mortinson and Jamie Hamilton, the reporter from the TV series. We’re also going to introduce some new characters into the mix and deal with the relationships and flesh out some of the characters that we didn’t get to see highlighted in that first six-issue series but who are definitely still there.
What is it about Troy that allows him to carry a series as its leading man, especially in the shadows of Adama and Apollo?
Exactly that. He’s a character that has grown up in the shadow of his father’s deeds. He was quite a bleak, broken character in Marc’s original series and we get to pick up with him 33 years on from that and see if he has matured and have the events of that original series tempered him or broken him beyond repair. That’s a fascinating type of character to explore — to see if they can live up to their potential.
Jimmy Carter was the sitting president in Guggenheim’s “Battlestar Galactica: 1980.” Who is sitting in your series, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?
[Laughs] That’s a very good call. As we’re writing this that might be a decision that is made for us. [Laughs] We are in the very early stages of developing this and so we could actually hedge our bets and make a hybrid Mitt Obama as our president.
At the close of Marc’s series, it was left unclear whether or not the Cylons were able to send the coordinates of Earth back to the armada. I can’t imagine a BSG series without the Cylons. Safe to say the transmission was delivered?
Without giving the details away, it would be foolish not to play with the cards that you’re dealt. Hopefully what we’ll be able to do and what we’re planning to do is — and this is one of things that Dan and I stand by when we’re doing series like this — trying to second guess our readers and pull the rug out from them every stage of the way so that things will happen as you expect them to happen but hopefully not exactly as you’re thinking they will. Expect the unexpected is the way to really put that to your readers.
Obviously, “Battlestar Galactica” was a popular franchise in the ’80s but it really became a known commodity for today’s fanbase with the success of Ronald Moore’s reimagining for Syfy. Were you a fan of the original series as a kid growing up in the UK or did you watch the reimagined “BSG?”
This is really, really weird. I grew up watching the original series. I was 12 or so when it came out and it was part of the flood of sci-fi that came after the success of “Star Wars.” I was hooked. There was some very, very good sci-fi being fed to us in the ’70s and ’80s, even before “Star Wars.” We had “Planet of the Apes,” “Silent Running,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” all these films and then I can remember listening to the radio and watching the telly as the Apollo 13 story was unfolding as it returned to the atmosphere, so it was all around us. I can remember that period of incredible tension when they went radio silent until they actually splashed down. I was obsessed with space as a kid. For my tenth Christmas, I got a space suit [Laughs], which was amazing because that was also the year of one of our very big snowfalls and I remember going out in my space suit and disappearing into a snow drift.
Again, off the back of “Star Wars,” which just blew the world away, to get something like “Battlestar Galactica” on your TV, when we were used to homegrown TV like “Doctor Who” and “Space: 1999,” or that might have been a little bit after, but you could see the egg cartons painted on the walls and the actors would run down the corridor in one direction and then run down it again from another direction. But “Battlestar Galactica” has a real movie feel to it. It had Hollywood special effects for goodness sakes. There was laser fights in the stars with spaceships whizzing all over the place — complete with robotic villains. To a kid that was just eating up anything science fiction, it was mana from the heavens.
Not only that, it had very cool characters. What’s not to love about Starbuck? And Apollo? I was totally immersed in the original. I was not quite into “Battlestar Galactica: 1980,” but I think anybody who has watched it will admit that jumped the shark… and left the planet. [Laughs]
And to be honest, I have never seen one episode of the new series for no other reason than I haven’t had time. Like a lot of people, I get box sets and start working my way through some great TV and there is just so much good stuff. Plug into that is that, when that series started, my youngest was four or five so trying to sit down and invest in a brand new series, I just never had the time.
I understand Dan has watched it. And he raves about it. It’s definitely in my ‘to watch’ list.
That said, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that I haven’t watched it because I throw out ideas left, right and center not second guessing myself thinking, “No, that’s a little bit too close to what they’ve already done.”
Finally, Baltar died at the end of Guggenheim’s series, but he has always proven to be a survivor. He even teases his own immortality in his final moments. Have we truly seen the last of Baltar?
All I can say without spoiling too much stuff is that good villains are hard to find and you can’t keep them down. In the nuclear holocaust, cockroaches, Baltar and Keith Richards will be the only things left standing.
Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett’s new “Battlestar Galactica” series begins in 2013.