DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! The following review may contain spoilers for Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures #1!
In 1497, five hundred years before the Jupiter 2 left for Alpha Centauri, Girolamo Savonarola convinced a number of his followers to burn a bunch of art and other luxuries during Mardi Gras in Florence. Known as the Bonfire of the Vanities, this event has long caused many to wonder…what did we lose in the fire?
Unfortunately, the bonfire continues to this day, albeit under very different circumstances. A talented yet unknown author neglects to send in a manuscript because they’re worried it will fail. An artist suffers a heart condition when they are but three brushstrokes into what would have been their greatest masterpiece. And an amazing and prolific TV writer completes two scripts for an epic sci-fi series, only for the show to be pulled before the scripts can be produced. This is where Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures comes in.
Carey Wilber, the same writer who introduced Khan on Star Trek, wrote a number of episodes in the first two seasons of Lost in Space. Unbeknownst to all but the greatest of fans—a few of whom fortunately work for American Gothic Press—he had also created two episodes that were never made before the show went off the air. Episode 84 (“The Curious Galactics”) and 85 (“Malice in Wonderland”) were then separated, one put in the hands of a producer from Synthesis Entertainment and the other in the hands of Wilber’s daughter. AGP acquired them both and put them in the hands of the enchanting Holly Interlandi, who quickly began slaving away at a comic adaptation.
Apropos of nothing, I’d like to briefly interrupt this review to bring you a fun song by Bill Mumy, the actor who portrayed Will Robinson on the original Lost in Space.
Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures #1 (“The Curious Galactics, Part One”) begins with a page from the original teleplay, allowing us to see what has been kept in and what has been edited. And while there are definitely edits to this first page, it immediately becomes clear that the essence of the original show has been kept intact.
For instance, the first page includes Will Robinson complaining about the women on the ship. In 2016, it would have been easy to edit this out for the sheer sake of political correctness. Not only did Interlandi take a different route, but she actually ramped it up a little. The dialogue feels a little sharper than in the original script as she cuts out an unnecessary line and accelerates to the punchline. More importantly, her script still feels genuinely 1960s in the sense that the sexism comes across as 100% casual. Nothing mean-spirited, just a few guys joking about why women are useless. I admittedly did not live in the 1960s, but I imagine this dialogue would’ve played.
But alas, this is not the 1960s. And the benefits of a modern comic adaptation include creature designs and special effects that would have been nigh impossible to pull off in the original Lost in Space. Not to say the show wasn’t spectacular for its time, but the artwork of Kostas Pantoulas and color design by Patrick McEvoy give the look of this comic a sense of polish that even the 1998 film adaptation couldn’t pull off. All we really see in this one is a cute little yellow alien and a giant force field, but we also get some hints at an unknown species of aliens that seem to be driving the plot.
The plot is relatively simple, at least as of now. John and Will Robinson are away from the Jupiter 2 with Major Don West when a slew of technical difficulties complicate their return trip. This leads to a few discussions near the end that you would absolutely expect from a show in the era of Lost in Space. Don and John discuss whether a situation is ever truly hopeless, and Will decides he’d like to be treated like a man. The latter discussion actually leads to a pretty sweet moment between Will and his father, right before an ending that appears to suggest there will be further complications to the plot as the series continues. The aforementioned aliens are definitely behind some strange experiment that’s affecting Don and the Robinson men, but we’re not entirely sure how or why just yet. And if I’m interpreting the last panel correctly, Major West might be coming more directly into their crosshairs in the near future.
Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures #1 is one of those comics that’s hard to review, for the sheer fact that it’s the first issue of a longer series. On one hand, most of what we see is technically just set-up. On the other hand, that set-up appears to be leading us toward a fascinating plot line involving an alien experiment and (presumably) the eventual reveal of our alien conspirators. And while the Robot plays a major role in keeping the boys safe at one point, it doesn’t look likely that it will be stepping in to save the day in the next issue. If not, our heroes will have to do a bit more heavy lifting than they probably bargained for. As for Smith and the women, we’ll just have to wait for further issues to see whether or not Wilber had any big plans for them in Episode 84.
For now, all I can tell you about this particular issue of AGP’s Lost in Space is that everything about it just plain works. With the exception of the first page of the teleplay, we don’t know what came from Wilber and what came from Interlandi. But once you get sucked into the mystery, you won’t find yourself thinking about it. Instead, you’ll find yourself enjoying the writing and stopping every page or so to admire the fine work of the artists. You won’t spend ample time wondering what it would have looked like on television because, as fascinating as this inquiry may be, the story has been edited so exquisitely that it feels as if it were made solely to become a comic book. When the line between source and adaptation becomes this blurred, it should be evident that you have a successful project on your hands. This series is looking to be yet another perfectly executed piece of work by the fine folks at AGP.
One last note. A writer I admire told me it’s best not to give 10s early on, because you want there to be something left for when things get good. I’m going to be utilizing that philosophy here. Based on my previous experience reading AGP’s work, things are absolutely about to get good—which is saying something, because their work here is already far beyond anything you’d generally expect from a somewhat smaller imprint. And with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the Jupiter 2 crew as they struggle to find their way back to ship and family, I get the feeling you’ll want to strap yourself in to start moving at warp speed when the next issue rolls around. Don’t miss out on this one.
Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures #1 is currently available for digital download on comiXology at only $0.99, and will be hitting shelves next week.