The success of the Stargate franchise is impressive. It all began in 1994 with the Kurt Russell feature film "Stargate," a movie that came out of nowhere and brought in some unexpectedly huge box office. The memory of that film was not quickly forgotten when in 1997 a new weekly "Stargate: SG-1" television series starring Richard Dean Anderson launched on cable channel Showtime, where it remained for five season until the SciFi Channel picked up the series with season #6. Since then the show has truly flourished, completing nine seasons and soon to begin its tenth, making it the longest-running science fiction series on American television. The series has even spawned a spin-off series, "Stargate Atlantis," and inspired a number of Stargate conventions held across the country.
While Stargate may be well represented on the small screen, it's also well represented in comics through a number of series published by Avatar Press. The latest comics series "Stargate Atlantis: Wraithfall," by writer Stuart Moore and artist Mauricio Melo, ships this August. CBR News caught up with Moore to learn about his plans for this three-issue series.
First up, Moore explained the history of Stargate for those new to the series. "The original Stargate series, 'SG-1,' follows a military/scientific team who travel through the newly-discovered stargates to new worlds," Moore told CBR News. "It's a brilliant concept, because it allows you to do stories very much like the original Star Trek - first first contact stories, galactic intrigue - but but set in the present day.
"'Stargate Atlantis' follows a new team, a mixture of scientists and soldiers, investigating the lost city of the Ancients in a far-off galaxy. In the first season, when our story is set, they're cut off from home. But they have a whole new series of worlds to explore via the stargates."
Moore explained that "Wraithfall" stars the first-season cast of "Stargate Atlantis." "So, Lieutenant Ford is a regular character, but Ronan Dex has not yet joined the team (though I think there's a variant cover featuring him!)," said Moore. "The central character is Lt. Colonel John Sheppard, and the story grows straight out of his actions in the original pilot. For Rodney McKay fans, there's a lot of his bickering, whining, and scientific brilliance, too. He's a lot of fun to write."
For fans of villains like the Wraith or the more recent Karrans, yup, they play a role in this series. "In the pilot episode of 'Stargate Atlantis,' the team unwittingly set in motion events that unleashed the Wraith - a race of long-dormant life-energy vampires - on the Pegasus Galaxy. Sheppard feels responsible, even though he didn't do it on purpose. That guilt still haunts him.
"In 'Wraithfall,' we meet the Karrans, a race who've struck a bizarre deal with the Wraith. The Karrans are content with this arrangement, and they don't want it disrupted because they're afraid the Wraith will just wipe them out. But Sheppard can't live with it. If he can save even a few people from becoming the Wraith's food, he has to try. The story unfolds from there."
For "Stargate Atlantis" continuity fans, the story in "Wraithfall" happens early in the first season, somewhere between the second and fifth episodes. "Stargate continuity is very tight, and we've worked hard to make sure it all fits together. At the same time, the miniseries itself is totally self-contained. You can just pick it up and read it," said Moore.
When working on a creator owned project, there are very few barriers to stand in the way of a creator telling his/her story since, well, the project is theirs and theirs alone. Working on a company owned property - such as "Firestorm" at DC which is also written by Moore - comes with a certain set of guidelines and challenges since the character exists in a wider universe. Writing licensed comics, like "Stargate Atlantis," can be made even more challenging as you have an editor and a copyright holder that must approve your stories. While licensed books can be a challenging creative endeavor for any creator, Moore says that it's been mostly smooth sailing since he took the gig. "Most of the bumps were at the early stage, on my end -- because the rules of how the stargates work are actually very complicated, much more so than it appears when you watch the show casually," explained Moore. "And while we were first working on the scripts, some things -- like exactly who can and can't pilot the Jumpers, the little ships they find in the city -- were still being worked out. Fortunately, Avatar continuity consultant Darren Sumner helped out a lot with that.
"The actual approvals process was slowed down a bit by the MGM/Sony merger, but it's been very smooth. Almost nothing has been changed. I always try to get things right up front, and it seems to have worked."
When Moore first landed the job writing "Stargate Atlantis: Wraithfall," he immediately went to work checking out past television episodes, mostly for technical details like how the city is powered or to learn exactly what the Wraith can and can't do. If more series are in his future, he admits extensive research will play an important role in crafting these stories. "If and when we do further miniseries, I'll have to be very careful," said Moore. "The show's continuity has gotten even more complicated, and it's constantly changing. But I'm up to date. Both Stargate shows have been really strong this past year.
"If the book does well, the plan is to do future series. The biggest problem I have is that I keep coming up with ideas springing off of the basic concept, and then seeing something similar on the series. Which probably means I'm thinking in the right directions."
Moore's joined on the title by artist Mauricio Melo, who he's very impressed by thus far. "He's very good at matching the actors' likenesses, but striking unique expressions with them at the same time. And his tech is really strong, too," said Moore.
"Stargate Atlantis: Wraithfall" #1 is a monthly series beginning in August, 2006. The series includes a selection of variant covers, with one in particular catching Moore's eye. "I'm looking forward to snuggling up in bed with the $25 'Leather cover,' myself."