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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
Battlestar Galactica: Berserker "Berserker"
Battlestar Galactica #16 (Marvel)
Written by Roger McKenzie
Art by Walt Simonson
June 1980

Apollo faces the menace of a Mark III Cylon.

Story Summary

In its search for fuel, the fleet comes across an uninhabited red planet which turns out to have a Cylon satellite orbiting it. Detecting the fleet, it begins to send out a signal but the Galactica jams the broadcast. A Viper patrol is sent out to destroy the satellite, but they detect that it has a link to an explosive charge set deep in the crust of the planet that will detonate it. A bomb squad led by Master-Tech Shadrack is sent out in a shuttle to deactivate the trigger on the satellite.

The team comes under attack by an advanced Cylon fighter of unknown design from the planet and, in a duel, all the Vipers are shot down by the Cylon. Apollo manages to bring down the enemy ship at the same time his Viper is crash-landing on the planet. Apollo emerges from his crash to find the Cylon emerging from its. The Cylon is like none he's ever seen before and the warrior robot introduces itself as a prototype Mark III Imperator series. It and six others like it were marooned on planets scattered throughout the galaxy 1,000 yahrens ago when the Imperious Leader found them uncontrollably ambitious and indestructible. The Mark III had managed to build a sub-light fighter for itself during this time and now wishes to capture a faster-than-light human craft to return to Cylon and assume command of the empire.

The Mark III attempts to kill Apollo with its sword, but the human finally tricks the Cylon into falling into a lava pit.

The fleet spends several weeks at the planet mining tylium for fuel, then continues its quest for Earth. After they've left, the Mark III emerges from the lava virtually unscathed and determines to gather parts from the downed Viper craft still left scattered on the planet's surface from the battle, in hopes of building a ship that will take it back to Cylon.


Didja Know?

This is the first of several "souped-up Cylon" stories that take place in the saga of BSG as produced by various licensees.

This story (and its title) seem to have been inspired by the Berserker series of books by Fred Saberhagen published in the 1960s. In particular, Saberhagen's short story "Wings Out of Shadow", in which personality modules of historic fighter pilots, including that of the Red Baron, are used. Here, in our BSG story, the Mark III Cylon is clearly designed to look like a futuristic Red Baron. To go further, some fans feel that Glen Larson based the original Cylons on the Berserker robots of Saberhagen's series, who seek to eliminate all sentient life.

Didja Notice? 

On page 1, the satellite seen orbiting the red world by which the fleet passes has the pentagonal Cylon symbol on its receiver dish.

Page 6 reveals that the Cylons apparently have a bomb capable of destroying an entire planet.

Page 7 reveals that the Galactica has a tech shuttle called Moondog.

On page 10, Apollo tells Epsilon Patrol to "form on me...and stick like plerds on a daggit's back!" Presumably plerds are similar to Earth fleas.

The Mark III says that he and the six other prototypes of his kind were exiled to distant worlds by the Imperious Leader long ago because they could not unmake the new models, which threatened even him. Why could they not be unmade?

On page 26, the Mark III reveals to Apollo that he and the six other Mark III prototypes marooned across the galaxy have waited for 1,000 yahrens (about the same amount of time that the Cylon-Human War has gone on) to capture a faster-than-light ship to return to Cylon and take command from the Imperious Leaders.

Also on page 26, Apollo discovers he emptied his laser pistol's charge while he was firing it at the Mark III's ship. Really? He left the Galactica with a minimal charge in his pistol that would run out after just a few shots? No-prize time: possibly, the laser has a setting which allows the strength of the shots to be adjusted and Apollo turned it to the highest strength before firing it at the Cylon vessel, thus draining it almost immediately.

The presence of the exiled Mark III on the planet would suggest that the Cylon satellite placed in orbit was to alert the Cylon Empire of escape attempts by the prototype rather than to scan for other Cylon enemies in that sector of space.

The last page of the story reveals that the fleet remained in orbit around this unnamed world for several weeks, mining tylium to fuel their ships.

Somehow, the Mark III emerges from the lava pit after several weeks submersion without any apparent ill effects on its systems. From what we've seen of Cylon technology, it seems unlikely any of their robots could survive such an ordeal. 

Since the Mark III seemingly waited weeks until the humans had left to emerge from the pit, might it be that it allowed Apollo to "trick" it into the pit, deciding it was more logical to let the humans do their thing and leave unmolested so it could gather the Viper wreckage in peace once they were gone?

Given the scarcity of resources available to the fleet, you'd think they would salvage the Viper wreckage themselves in order to make use of the parts and metal for repairing/building other Vipers.

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