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Laser-Mirror-Starweb, Part 1: Duet for Human and Narn in C Sharp, by David Gerrold

Back to the comics for a 2-issue story by David Gerrold, focusing on two characters we haven't seen interacting much in the series up to this point: Ambassador G'Kar and Security Chief Garibaldi.


With a Narn starcruiser approaching the station, Ambassador G'Kar abruptly comes over the link, insisting that he must depart immediately. When Ivanova tells him that he will have to wait, G'Kar announces that he will take off anyway - threatening a collision with the approaching cruiser. Garibaldi runs to the docking bay to attempt to stop him, and ends up the victim of a Paralyzer Spray for his trouble... but not before entangling G'Kar in a starweb.

As G'Kar's ship hurtles off into deep space, Sheridan decides to personally pursue the Ambassador. He finds himself inheriting some unwanted "help" in this pursuit: Greegil, ostensibly a relative of G'Kar's, who insists that the captain will never recapture G'Kar without him.

As Sheridan attempts to get answers from the reticent Greegil, Garibaldi similarly interrogates G'Kar. Fortunately for Garibaldi, it appears human pop songs are just as hard on Narn ears as Narn opera is on Centauri ears. Unfortunately for them both, there is one aspect of G'Kar's plan that was not very well thought through...


David Gerrold returns to the Babylon 5 universe for the first (and, paired with the second half of this story, only) time since the superior first season episode, Believers. The deliberately-paced, thoughtfully-scripted Believers was actually a departure for Gerrold, who is generally known for science fiction stories with a more humorous approach.

Laser-Mirror-Starweb! is more familiar territory for Gerrold than Believers was, being a fairly lightweight science fiction tale with one or two distinct nods toward Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy (note the single-panel asides where Gerrold references The Galactic Encyclopedia). This issue, of course, only represents the first half of the story, so a final judgment will have to await the second installment. But thus far, the story is both fast-paced and highly engaging.

As with Believers, Gerrold does very well with character scenes. Reading the dialogue, I had no difficulty imagining Jerry Doyle, Andreas Katsulas, or Bruce Boxleitner delivering the lines. The scene in which Sheridan barters with Greegil seems like classic early Season Two Sheridan. When Sheridan tells Greegil that an answer to a question "will cost (him) a thousand marks," I can absolutely picture Boxleitner breaking out that puppy-dog grin as he tells the enraged Greegil that he's "negotiating like a Narn."

Meanwhile, we get several scenes between Garibaldi and Ambassador G'Kar, a character pairing that hasn't really been utilized at this point in the series, though they will be paired much more often later on. Gerrold seems already to realize that these two characters would work very well together. As Garibaldi realizes some of the twists in G'Kar's plan, we get some enormously enjoyable interaction between the two characters. Personally, I would have loved to actually hear Andreas Katsulas delivering the lines where he cheats Garibaldi at the "Laser-Mirror-Starweb!" game; for all his proficiency at dramatic speeches, Katsulas was also marvelous at comedy. I suspect he would have milked these bits for all they were worth.


I have been underwhelmed by the art for every single Babylon 5 comic to date... which should give some idea of the extent of the problem when I say that the art for this issue is the absolute worst of the series. The drawings are overly-angled, with the aliens in particular looking like bad Saturday morning cartoon versions of the races from the show. The human characters don't even remotely resemble their live-action counterparts. For the first time since In Darkness Find Me, I find myself only able to enjoy the story by reading only the text and actively avoiding the drawings wherever possible. Once again, I must render my opinion that the comic series was doomed from the start - not by the stories, which have been generally quite strong, but by the appalling artwork.

I do have a few quibbles with the story here, too. I find the introduction of such devices as starwebs and Paralyzer Sprays to the Babylon 5 universe highly unwelcome. They are simply too reminiscent of the sorts of devices one would encounter in "Flash Gordon" serials to fit securely with J. Michael Straczynski's gritty future vision. If someone can use a Paralyzer Spray to disable a foe, that's a very small step removed from simply applying a Vulcan Neck Pinch.

Also, though I enjoyed the generally humorous tone of this issue, I did find that Garibaldi's singing was one gag that simply didn't work for me. It didn't really raise a smile or a chuckle (save for Garibaldi's choice of a "secret weapon" song, that is), and it seemed out of character for G'Kar to cave in. This is a man who went through a brutal Centauri occupation of his Homeworld in the distant past, and emerged a leader among his people; I somehow suspect that his ability to endure bad singing would outlast the strain on Garibaldi's vocal chords.

Still, I found this issue to be quite entertaining overall. On television, I suspect I'd have deemed it too lightweight an episode to merit the airtime; but as a story to tell in a comic book medium, this fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek adventure gets off to a good start at the very least.

My Final Rating: 7/10

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