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Review: Spectrum #0

We love a good sci-fi adventure here at Cult Faction Towers. I was thinking just that as I stepped out of the executive washroom (waterfall, classical music, peacocks) to find a copy of Spectrum #0 on my desk. My interest turned to joy at the sight of artist Sarah Stone’s perfect representation of the sci-fi legend that is Nathan Fillion. You may remember him from such films, TV shows, as Castle, Joss Whedon’s cancelled-too-soon sci-fi show Firefly, or Con Man.  Now I am a massive fan of Firefly. The sci-fi western starring Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk combined a great world, intriguing narrative and some utterly brilliant characters with a typically snappy Joss Whedon script.

Since the show’s farewell movie Serenity, Joss Whedon has successfully assembled The Avengers, while its cast has been busy on other things.  Has everybody moved on and forgotten their love of Firefly and its cast? Of course not! When Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion announced Con Man on a crowdfunding site, the fans made their feelings known. Records tumbled, with Con Man passing its $425,000 target almost immediately and raising over $2million in under 2 weeks, in part down to some genuinely funny videos and downright silly content from the leads.

Now if you’ve somehow never heard of Con Man I’ll explain. It is a semi-fictionalized story about actors from Spectrum, a cult-favourite show that was gone too soon. (Sound familiar?) Well Spectrum (the comic book) captures everything there was to love about that series in a brand-new story by bringing the fictional TV series Spectrum to life. It’s all in there; a vicious attack from an alien invading force, a dashing shoot-from-the-hip captain, a wisecracking pilot, a powerful female who holds the key to their salvation. Oh and humanity’s last hope (naturally) is to escape in an untested spaceship built by a madman!

I’m a real fan of Sarah Stone’s illustrations. She really captures the essence of each actor who plays their Spectrum character on the Con Man show, while maintaining a gorgeous Blade Runner style sensibility. There’s a lot of energy coming off the pages, even in the close-ups . As one would expect from the talent behind this, Spectrum makes you care about its characters right away. Given that Spectrum is based on a fictional TV series which stared fictional actors, based on the real actors, real experiences of a cancelled show, the story by Alan Tudyk — the creator of “Con Man” — and sci-fi author PJ Haarsma is simple and immediately engaging.

Spectrum may seem too clever by half but Tudyk and Haarsma are much too smart to fall into any traps that the premise may set for them.  If anyone ever believed that Alan Tudyk is in anybody’s shadow I’ll meet them in a car park of their choice to beat them over the head with a rolled up copy of Spectrum#0. The four-issue miniseries is published by the LA-based Automatic Publishing and well worth reading to fans and non-fans of Con Man alike.

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Stephen Pryde-Jarman is a Cult TV and Film journalist, award winning short story writer, playwright and screenwriter. A natural hoarder, second hand shopping fulfils his basic human need for hunter-gathering; but rummaging through a charity shop’s bric-a-brac shelf also brought him the inspiration for his novel Rubble Girl having seen a picture of a Blitz survivor sat amongst the rubble of her house with a cup and saucer. Rubble Girl has been described as " thought-provoking" and "fast paced ... with plenty of twists and turns." Amazon.

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