Ignore the covers that made it look more like a T&A book than anything appropriately Battlestar Galactica-esque; the four-issue Battlestar Galactica: The Final Five offers up a complex backstory for the robots that put everything in motion.

It has to be said, The Final Five isn't a series that makes things easy on itself; past the ill-suited covers, even the more impressive (and, at times, Joe Quesada-esque) interior art by Nigel Raynor seems at odds with the story being told, straining at the leash to be allowed to be louder, more explosive and dramatic than it's allowed to be and, when mixed with a story that jumps time zones, incarnations and requires faces to be familiar even when names aren't, that can be a problem. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by what you already know from the television show, this story introduces a lot of new information (and characters), and requires you to pay a lot of attention throughout... Maybe too much, in fact.


Something that's interesting is the legend along the bottom of each cover from the series: "An Original Interpretation Of The Story Of The Final Five." Whether that's intended as a way to distance the show from this series, or allow Caprica to zig where this story zagged, I'm not sure, but it does give writers Seamus Kevin Fahey and David Reed a freedom to get ambitious in a way that the previous Galactica comics haven't. The series starts four thousand of years before Galactica, before the thirteenth tribe has even left Kobol to go to Earth, and goes on to explain the existence of that tribe - and why they left for Earth - in a way that seems both at odds with what we know but also weirdly consistent with what we know happens thousands of years later, before filling in details on the backstory we already know the rough shape of from the show.

Despite the epic scope of the series, it actually hangs together well as a story; the ambition and imagination shown in trying to come up with a coherent history for the thirteenth tribe, final five and reason for the destruction of Earth (All shown here!) is impressive, and the series is at its best when it's doing that, and not working in awkward fanservice cameos from the ancestor of Baltar or retconning Starbuck into something altogether different. In fact, given the weight of the expectations that Battlestar Galactica brings to it - both from the creators' perspective as well as the readers' - there are times where you almost wish that it was its own thing, separate from the TV show so that you don't get so sucked out everytime they try to suck you in.


Taken on its own terms... which is to say, going in without preconceptions of what a BSG comic should look like (Less colorful, dammit!) or what the continuity should be (That's the inspiration behind Cavil?), then this is a surprisingly good series, making what could've been a massive infodump into something enjoyable and entertaining. The problem is, how many of its target audience will really be able to do that?

The final issue of Battlestar Galactica: The Final Five is released this Wednesday. A collected edition will follow later this year.