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The Psi Corps and You! by Tim DeHaas

The eleventh, and final, regular issue of the comic series, this uses the slim page count accorded by the comic book to clever advantage by presenting a piece of pure propaganda, as put out by the insidious Psi Corps.


There's not really much story here. This amounts to a publication, in the form of a comic book, put out by the Psi Corps to indoctrinate children into: (a) trusting the Corps; and (b) going directly to the Corps if they or anyone they know shows telepathic abilities.

Along the way, we get a highly distorted history of the Psi Corps and its heroes, as presented by Diane Matthews, the resident commercial telepath on Babylon 5 (yes, you read that part right). We find out that the Psi Corps was formed, not out of a visionary (if opportunistic) Senator's manipulation of legislative panic, but as the result of a telepath heroically sacrificing himself to save a President's life. We then learn that Jeffrey Sinclair's "historic attack" that, um, forced the Minbari to surrender was only possible because a telepath pilot sacrificed his life to buy time for Sinclair to make his attack. Finally, we learn that Alfred Bester was not actually raised by Psi Corps from the time he was a baby, but was in reality a normal child who suddenly manifested telepathic abilities and was encouraged by his ethnically-balanced good friends to go to the Corps for help.

Oh, and we are presented with a quiz to take to determine if we are telepaths. And I'm pretty sure that the test, as written, is impossible to take without having at least one "Yes" answer out of the ten (Sample Questions: "Have you ever said something, then noticed others were looking at you strangely?" And "If a friend starts to cry, do you feel compelled to cry too?")

It all ends with the note that the Psi Corps is "The Right Choice for Everyone." Trust the Corps.


This is a very clever use of the medium of the comic book. It essentially expands on the idea of the Psi-Corps commercial that we saw in And Now for a Word, filling a full issue with pure propaganda. Everything presented is so utterly one-sided, with everyone featured being so happy and full of smiles, that it couldn't possibly fool an even halfway intelligent adult, of course.

...but that's the chilling note struck here. As we are reminded constantly by the ever-grinning Diane Matthews' cries of, "Hey, kids!" and "Remember, kids!" this is not propaganda Psi Corps is using to target adults. This is being used to indoctrinate children. That this would almost certainly be endorsed by President Clark (who was personally endorsed by Psi Corps) is suddenly very easy to remember when reading it.

The history it presents in no way fits with anything we have learned either on the show itself or in spinoff books. That's half the point, however. This is specifically not meant to be an accurate history, as is signaled immediately by having it presented by an official commercial telepath for Babylon 5 who has probably never even been to Babylon 5. It's the history of the Psi Corps, as told by the Psi Corps to boys and girls at the most impressionable of ages. The Psi Corps being formed as the result of a heroic act by a telepath is a story kids can connect with. The Psi Corps being formed because a lot of rich old fat men were scared that someone might be able to read the disgusting things within their minds just doesn't have the same ring to it. Bester starting out as a kid just like them, and eventually becoming a Psi Cop, makes Bester a hero figure for the children to aspire to emulate. Bester being raised almost from the cradle by the Corps? That would just make him even more alien to the children reading.

Another element I couldn't help but notice, as I read the comic, was that the two "history lessons" both ended with their telepath heroes dying in noble acts of self-sacrifice. To misquote Oscar Wilde: To sacrifice one's life once may be considered misfortune; to do so twice is just carelessness. Telepath heroes who give up their lives (in both cases, for the sake of mundanes) are going to be inherently more appealing to the target audience - mundane children, being monitored by mundane parents - than telepaths who put the welfare of their own people first.

It's all very cleverly put together. By being a set of "mini-stories," connected by Ms. Matthews' narration, it's also quite pacey. While certainly expendable (we already know we can't trust the Corps, and we already know that the Corps has support from the current government), it is a cynically entertaining addition to the Babylon 5 universe.


Even in a piece of propaganda aimed squarely at children, some of distortions presented by this comic could surely be easily researched by readers who wanted to know more. The creation of Psi Corps by Senator Lee Crawford, for example, would be an extremely well-documented historical fact that would stand utterly at odds with the creation-of-the-Corps story presented here. Equally easy to research would be the restriction against telepaths acting as fighter pilots (presented by Harriman Gray in Eyes), thus making the Battle of the Line story an easily-identified fabrication.

I have no problem with the Psi Corps lying. The Corps simply wouldn't be the Corps if it told the unvarnished truth. I do have a problem with them being so obvious about it, though. The best and most damaging lies are hidden between truths. So far as I can tell, not one thing in this comic is actually meant to be "true" within the B5 universe. I believe the Psi Corps we have seen in the series proper would be just a little smarter about its propaganda.

My Final Rating: 7/10

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