The name Gerry Anderson is synonymous with action, adventure, science fiction and puppets, and his penultimate television series, Space Precinct, contains all of those factors, minus the puppets. The sci-fi crime drama commands a less-than-firm grip in the minds of Anderson fans and sci-fi lovers in general. The show was broadcast for a single series between 1994 and 1995 and remains unavailable on DVD. The show received a cool reception from viewers and hasn’t secured itself in the minds of Anderson fans in the same way Thunderbirds or UFO have done.
However, that hasn’t stopped Anderson Entertainment biting the bullet and crafting a comic book prequel for the series. Written and coloured by Chris Thompson and illustrated by Connor Flanagan, Space Precinct Reloaded #1 is a blitzkrieg of a read, fusing together a spry story with explosive adventure. In the introduction to the comic, Thompson recalls how when watching Space Precinct in his younger days, the breath-taking model sets and the cops-and-robbers-esque chase scenes between the officers of Demeter City Police Department and criminals stood out to him the most. That’s certainly reflected in the comic’s tone, which places action above all other elements, with a story to match.
Space Precinct Reloaded is set ten years prior to the events of the TV series and features our new heroine, Aria Fontane, transferred to Demeter City from Earth for cryptic reasons. This first issue sees her and her fellow officers attempting to bust open a scandal of human trafficking, with explosive results. As mentioned, the action-heavy nature of the story results in a somewhat two-dimensional story, one that opens with some detective work from our heroes before an attempt to stop the trafficking in their sights leads to a furious chase between Fontane and the leader of the trafficking gang, a horrifically badass creature that gives the comic a visual stimulant. The mystery surrounding Fontane’s arrival in Demeter City is expanded upon no further than a casual flashback to her mulling over the fact that it wasn’t her choice to join Demeter City’s police. Still, it’s a surefire method of setting up some ongoing conflict for future issues.
The action-heavy nature of the comic actually works well in its favour. In Space Precinct: Unmasked, actor Richard James, who portrayed Officer Hubble Orion, notes how the original series itself bore an unbalanced tone, as if it didn’t quite know if it wanted to be a hard-nosed galactic crime saga for adults or appeal more to younger audiences. Space Precinct Reloaded‘s reliance on sprawling action might not make it the most rewarding comic for repeated readings, but it does give the comic a muscular, cohesive tone. Bolstering Thompson’s firepower script along are his own colouring and Flannagan’s artwork. Loose, swirling panelling balance some detailed drawings with vibrant, neon-esque colours. The end result is a feast for the eyes, but its Flanagan’s approach to panel structure that’s most eye-catching. It gives the story a relentless feel, as if the action is tumbling from page to page. Thanks to Thompson’s keen-eyed script, that action never feels as if it’s falling right off the page itself.
Space Precinct Reloaded #1 is a riot of a read, with plenty of enjoyable crime-fighting action and splendid visuals. It won’t break any boundaries, but it stands as a taught, fun read in its own right. Additionally, to see a new era being kick-started for a franchise many would perhaps have never expected be revisited is an exciting prospect, especially for Anderson aficionados. #1 concludes on an optimistic tone, as Fontane looks ahead to her new life as a Lieutenant for Demeter City Police Department. Let’s hope future issues will fling her into the darkest recesses of Demeter City, because Space Precinct Reloaded feels like it’s a story that can blossom into something grand.