If you're unfamiliar with the premise of the 1965 television series upon which this comic is based, it is not in fact a time displaced, space themed follow-up to the television series LOST. It is instead a science fiction adventure about a bunch of people trying in vain to get home after being celestially stranded via sabotage. I clarify all of that because this issue of the clumsily titled Irwin Allen's Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures pretty strangely avoids explaining the show's setup. Instead, a preface let's us know the original screenplay upon which this script is based was written by the same hand that gave us Star Trek's "Space Seed".
The material's origin both benefits and hampers the comic. It really does read like television sci-fi of the Sixties with that decade's not-yet-faded wonderment at science. You could glue the phrase "Gee Whiz" to the front or back of any sentence here without ruining the tone of the book. I find this era of science fiction adorable. And if you're into it too, that wide-eyed spirit is alive and active.
The comic medium allows for grand sights and effects unattainable in the show's era. However, IALiS:TLA (it‘s even worse as an acronym) doesn't take advantage of the strengths provided by comics. Vistas are vast, but empty. Technology is vague and cheap looking. In trying to mimic the look of the show, the comic limits its visual scope to an unfortunate degree. I wish the art could be bigger, more awe-inspiring. The set and prop designers on the show had images in their heads that were almost certainly not reflected in the final, produced episodes. Here’s a chance to go crazy and unshackle the look from the constraints of reality.
Kostas Pantoulas' art is at times distractingly grimy. Faces don't emote, which renders some of the more dramatic panels accidentally humorous. The illustrator is stuck with the loose likenesses of the show's actors. And there is a haunting lifelessness in their eyes. As a result IALiS:TLA has basically built a little shack in the uncanny valley and struggles to climb out. Pantoulas does fine with what's been given, though I'm always aware of how slightly off everyone looks. This distraction saps the writing of a lot of what could be menace as our heroes find themselves lost... on a planet... in space.
And it's a real shame the art doesn’t quite hit the mark. Some of the scenes are surprisingly effectively written. In particular, young Will Robinson's admission that he's old enough to face some harsh adult realities strikes a deep emotional chord in just a few panels. It is one of the final moments of the issue and it is genuinely touching as Will and his father learn to respect each other just a little bit more.
Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Lost Adventure is commendable as a place for an unproduced. TV script. It remains to be seen if the rest of the story can take full advantage of the medium or if the book will flounder due to its small screen origin.
Irwin Allen's Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures #1 Writer: Carey Wilber and Holly Interlandi Artist: Kostas Pantoulas Colorist: Patrick McEvoy Publisher: American Gothic Press Price: $0.99 Release Date: 3/9/16 Format: Mini-Series; Digital