by Jessica Greenlee
Starbuck and Apollo have been trapped in an alternate universe, one where Baltar, still a traitor, has been transformed into Baltifer, a cyborg combination of Baltar and Lucifer. There is no Galactica here and what remains of the rebels are being rounded up and killed. Starbuck and Apollo find themselves caught in the fight, Starbuck trying to reason with his mercenary alternate self and Apollo a prisoner of the ever-treacherous Cylons.
One of the advantages of an alternate universe is that it gives artists and authors the chance to show the essential parts of the characters. In this issue, the focus is on Starbuck’s true nature: Is he truly a hero or is that a matter of chance and circumstance? Lanning and Abnett have effectively varied his speech pattern enough to highlight the contrast between the two versions of Starbuck. Razek, meanwhile, has opted to give the alternate Starbuck a fuller, fleshier face hinting at more self-indulgence, a full beard, and narrowed eyes, while “our” Starbuck is still clean-shaven and lean, eyes wider. They share, though, a focused look that suggests that maybe their underlying characters are not so different.
Issue #5 is a fine conclusion to a good, traditional space-opera. In true heroic style, Apollo and Starbuck have gotten involved in their new universe, even while they look for a way home, and in the great tradition of master-villains everywhere, Baltifer raises the stakes by talking of not one but two universes to conquer. Look for some great, sweeping space-battle scenes, chances for heroic sacrifice, and the chance for the heroes to test their metal. It’s fantastic fun for those who enjoy the epic and adventurous.