The stories behind the stories

Battlestar Galactica: Counterstrike #5

“I’m spreading a message on behalf or the Interstellar Piracy Association — never pick up hitchhikers!” — Starbuck

“Counterstrike, Part 5”

Its stolen fleet delivered to the Cylons by the Okaati, the last Battlestar, Galacia, joins a desperate attempt to rescue the last remnants of humanity!

After some delay, the long-awaited conclusion to Battlestar Galactica: Counterstrike, our miniseries celebrating the 40th anniversary of the TV show came out right at the beginning of summer 2019. The wait wound up being longer than intended due to circumstances beyond our control; as it works out, the miniseries ended up lasting slightly longer than the TV series itself in its original run. But good things come to those who wait — and our conclusion to this arc is a good one indeed.

When we left our heroes, the spacefaring Okaati had kidnapped Galactica’s fleet, taking it to a rendezvous with the Cylons on Gehenna Prime. Galactica itself had been taken, too, by the Okaati’s mortal enemies, the Comitat. But talking to the Comitat proves fruitful for Adama and Apollo — even as Starbuck and Grust work on a mission to capture the Okaati ship that’s captured the Rising Star!

In the end, it was a bit of a challenging story to tell, given the number of players and ships in the story; creators spanning the globe with varying levels of access to episodes of the original series also made for scripts a bit longer than they would have been. But the end result was one I’m happy to have been associated with, and we were pleased to have the collected edition win the 2020 Dragon Award for Best Graphic Novel. My thanks go to Dynamite and Nick Barrucci for the opportunity, as well as to editor Matt Idelson and all our artists and creators behind the scenes!

“They’re Cylons. There’s always a double-cross!” — Starbuck

Normally I’m a stickler for not showing planets too near one another — the orbital dynamics just don’t work — but on our first page can assume the purple planet is both huge and far in the background. Besides, our bigger challenge was making sure the right ships in Galactica’s fleet had Okaati tugboat ships affixed to them. Occupational hazard of a lot of different kinds of ships in a story!

Balloon placement is sometimes tricky when the characters appear in an order different from the script, as seen in panel 1 of Page 2, but that’s where good editing comes in handy. Editor Matt Idelson did a great job with placements in this series.
Our second scene-shift in as many pages — bringing us up to speed with three different groups of characters at different places in the same setting. Note that each of the first two pages ends with a line of dialogue from the next location, so we know where everyone is before the action gets underway.

Note how the coloring effect makes it clear that Grust is outside a window in space— and note that his face, too, is behind a transparent faceplate that picks up a little reflected light.

It’s the members of the Council of the Twelve who are first off the ramp — showing their usual good sense, walking straight into danger!

We didn’t have enough room to show Parrin’s ship detaching from Rising Star, so we covered it in dialogue.

By page 8, we’re at the climax of this would-be TV episode (well, maybe it’s a TV movie instead) — so a lot of things are popping. Note that we have to use the different shaped dialogue balloons to help communicate who’s talking, when.

Another Jolly pirate joke, which connects back to the final arc of the Marvel series, years ago. Arrr!

We get some armored-warrior-on-Cylon violence. They never got around to having the Colonists design Cylon-like armor for themselves in the TV show, so we pick up the challenge. A pretty noisy fight!

On our splash page, Comitat and Colonial alike pound on the Cylons. We wound up making a last-minute fix, here; the Galactica’s tail-section looked too much like the 2003 version, so rather than redraw it we just covered it with the caption. Secrets of the Comics Masters!

By page 14, we’re getting multiple scene shifts within pages — a sign of how frantic the action has gotten.

And finally, the teeth-shaking kabooms. Always a question whether you want to put sound effects over a scene or not; since there’s no sound in space but there is in the TV show, we have an excuse either way.

At last, the story ends where we saw it begin, back in #0, with the Kiernu homeworld. Always good to tie things together! We get everyone saying their good-byes, leading to a shot of the most of the cast (not counting the Viper pilots, who are still off chasing Cylons). And the final, iconic shot of the fleet on its way…