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“Target Earth” misfires

Trevor Whitney

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Intergalactic Nemesis is a graphic novel come-to-life as it is narrated by voice actors while accompanied by live music and sound effects. Photo credit: George Johnston

The words “live-action” and “graphic novel” aren’t typically associated—perhaps for good reason. But Saturday’s act, The Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth, combined them anyway, proving that “because you ain’t seen nothing like it” is a good enough reason to like something that doesn’t quite work.

What didn’t work

“Target Earth” relies heavily on the novelty of its concept, but that isn’t the only reason it’s off the mark. Classically-trained pianist Harlan Hodges improvises the score live. Foley artist Kelly Matthews brilliantly creates each sound effect live for the entire performance and matches perfectly with the novel. All while the three actors provide their live interpretations of the graphic novel that’s projected overhead. So much emphasis is placed on the fact that the live show is going to be happening live, it can’t help but come off as contrived.

It becomes a problem because of the need for everything to stand out. All aspects of the performance are individually interesting, so it’s difficult to know what to pay the most attention to. Should I be watching the actors? Or do I watch the panels because that’s what the actors are referencing? The foley table is placed center stage, does that mean I’m supposed to watch that?

The actors impress because they switch between characters mid-scene with ease. All of the voices are easy to tell apart from each other and the characters themselves, though often cliché, are likable. Actress Rachel Landon’s interpretation of fictional pulitzer-winning journalist Molly Sloan is the least spot-on, however. Her voice isn’t what one would expect the character in the graphic novel to sound like and is more reminiscent of a mashup of Team Rocket’s Jessie from Pokémon and Meg from Disney’s Hercules.

Christopher Lee Gibson had the most character switching to do in playing both heroes and villains in the story. Although each was easily distinguishable, they all had a similar shouty quality that made it difficult to understand what Gibson was saying.

It would’ve been helpful if they had left the word balloons in the projected panels.

What worked

The third actor, Brock England, shined as Timmy Mendez, Molly Sloan’s wimpy colleague. His was easily the most accurate portrayal and the overall performance was better for it.

One scene in particular balanced everything onstage perfectly. The characters had found their way into a large, sludgy, green “hive”—a mini version of the Death St—er—”Ultra Hive,” the villain’s headquarters. Mendez was hypnotized by a trio of muse-like characters and it felt real. The graphic novel panels were projected full-screen during the segment so it was easy to tell what was going on and the whirring sound effects along with the high-pitched, delayed voices casted a mesmerizing spell on the audience. And Hodges tied it all together with his suspenseful tinkling.

The excitement balloons both literally and figuratively, and Matthews pops the literal one to create the sound of the hive exploding when the heroes are victorious.

To watch the performance in individual episodes, visit theintergalacticnemesis.com.

Otherwise, follow on twitter at @IntNemesis or search @intergalacticnemesis on Instagram to see photos from their journey.

Trevor Whitney can be reached at [email protected] or @nicegrandmas on Twitter.

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“Target Earth” misfires