Independence Day #1

Readers might presume that Titan Comics' "Independence Day" #1 ties into this summer's sequel film of the same name, but in fact Victor Gischler's story lies much closer to the original movie, taking place during its explosive finale. U.S. Army Captain Joshua Adams is sent in pursuit of one of the aliens' fighter crafts, which was damaged and subsequently plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean during the assault on the mothership; there, he faces a deadly threat despite the extraterrestrials' defeat moments earlier. Artists Steve Scott and Rodney Ramos get to draw some nicely designed, interesting alien tech as well as several new characters, since none of the fan favorites from the first movie appear in this comic.

There's not a lot of new ground broken here, but those hankering for "Independence Day: Resurgence" in June will get a bit of a fix nonetheless. Gischler goes for the character-driven angle with Joshua, the hydrophobic military veteran whose expertise ironically makes him the ideal choice for a mission that takes him to the ocean floor. The irony is played up throughout in an attempt to give Joshua's character some depth as well as some chemistry with Doctor Jessica Morgan, the president's science advisor; Gischler seems to intend to establish tension between the story's leads, not unlike that between Jeff Goldblum and Margaret Colin's characters in the first film. Also like the movie, though, the attempt at character development comes across as a bit stiff and contrived -- but then, few turn to the "Independence Day" franchise looking for character drama.

No, audiences want aliens, spaceships and explosions, and this first issue provides enough of that to convince them to come back next issue. This series has the advantage of piggybacking off the movie's climax, allowing readers to get into the action immediately, before even the character introductions. Scott and Ramos start things off with a literal bang, namely the explosion of the mothership, demonstrating immediately the types of story elements they're best at rendering -- not that their depictions of plain old humans and military vessels are lacking by any means. Scott's ability to render facial likenesses and Ramos' skill at embellishing them are strong, as is the art team's adeptness at delivering a clean look, easy story flow and the convincingly claustrophobic confines of a submarine, which are made even tighter by Stefani Rennee's darker tones.

Like many licensed stories, Gischler is forced to rely on elements already seen in the movie franchise, and the newer elements that are introduced often don't carry the same level of freshness or excitement. The story isn't harmed by relying on these concepts, though, and in fact benefits from being separated from the source material by two decades. "Independence Day" #1 is a tasty little popcorn comic that will satiate fans' appetites and a satisfying introduction that should tide them over until the movie arrives this summer.

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