The second issue of DC's short-lived Babylon 5 comic follows up on the ideas of the first issue, while laying down groundwork for a storyline all its own.
Some, I'm sure, will observe that my placement for this comic differs from the official placement. Officially, this 3-issue story arc occurs between Revelations and The Geometry of Shadows. I have adjusted this slightly, fitting this story instead after The Geometry of Shadows.
My reasoning behind this occurred when I skimmed the comic prior to reading. I observed the characterization of Garibaldi. The comic's Garibaldi is far too jovial to fit with the Garibaldi who glared at Sheridan in Revelations, and then contemplated suicide in Geometry of Shadows. Since it was in Geometry of Shadows that Garibaldi worked through the worst of his immediate issues, the only place that made sense to place an arc that sees Garibaldi well-adjusted was after that episode.
This does create minor discontinuities. Ivanova is still referred to as "Lt. Commander," for instance. Also, Garibaldi is still not on active duty. However, I can rationalize that Garibaldi - still recovering from injury - might only be on partial duty, and that Dr. Franklin might call him back to Medlab for follow-up tests. In any case, I find it far easier to overlook these relatively minor problems than to overlook the major problem in Garibaldi's characterization if I read it where it is "officially placed." So that's why this story is occurring just a little bit later than it technically "should happen."
Ivanova is awakened when a distress signal is picked up from a starliner. Lt. Keffer's squadron is dispatched to investigate, and discovers that everyone on the liner has been killed, save for a single unconscious survivor. Even stranger: the liner was not attacked; its life-support was turned off from the inside.
Ivanova has the survivor taken to Medlab, where he is placed under guard. Nevertheless, the prisoner escapes, apparently killing a guard in the process.
When the man surfaces, Ivanova is surprised to find that he went to Talia Winters' quarters. She is even more surprised when Talia tells her the man's true nature, and exactly what he was doing on the doomed liner.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Sinclair sends a brief message to Garibaldi before arriving at Minbar. But when the Minbari receive word of a planned assassination attempt against their new leader, they settle immediately on a suspect: Sinclair!
As with the multi-part television episodes, it is very difficult to review Treason as an entity unto itself. It is not a complete story, but merely the first act of a three-part story. As such, everything that occurs in this issue is pure set-up, with the complications and plot resolution waiting to occur later.
Treason does its job setting up the story really quite well. The central mystery involving the passenger liner is introduced quickly, and developed in an intriguing manner. That some of Babylon 5's command staff immediately suspect Raiders is a nice continuity nod to Season One (after all, it's not like the Babylon 5 crew have any idea that the Raiders... became the victim of a bigger fish). The sequences from the point-of-view of one of the villains are also effective in drumming up suspense.
It is also nice to see a scene where Sinclair actually gets to talk to Garibaldi. The interaction between these two characters was one of the consistent joys of the first season. While later televised episodes occasionally paid lip-service to their friendship, I always regretted never getting to actually see the two characters interact again. Sinclair's conversation with Garibaldi is brief, and far more devoted to plot movement than to characterization. Still, it was nice to allow the two characters a chance to catch up with each other, however briefly. It never did ring true that Sinclair wouldn't call to check up on his old friend, and this comic addresses that issue far more satisfactorily than the series managed to do.
The cliffhanger is also effective enough, though threatening to restart the Earth/Minbari War seems almost like a Babylon 5 cliché at this point. If nothing else, it's always interesting to see Sinclair on the wrong side of the Minbari warrior caste. I only hope that the remaining issues keep him in-character as he gets himself out of trouble again.
Just as it's hard to give much praise, it's just as hard to give any firm, specific criticism yet. This is very much the beginning of the story; if this were a TV episode, this issue would place us just about 20 minutes into the hour.
As with In Darkness Find Me, artwork remains an issue. The illustrations are somewhat improved over the initial entry. There are no individual panels that make me cringe to look at them, and the characters are much better-drawn. Garibaldi is particularly well-captured. However, mere competence is not enough to carry a comic. A comic's images should be as much a part of the story as the text. They should create drama through use of shade and color, images of alien worlds should make one pause to appreciate the artistry. All the images continue to be very bland and 2-dimensional. The artwork is just not "good enough," at least not in my opinion.
. Does its job as a set-up well; I'm not fully comfortable rating it either higher or lower than a "7" until I get the rest of the story.