Saturday 24 February 2024

Another 5 Starblazer Comics Reviewed

 Starblazer - Fantasy Fiction in Pictures

Yet more issues from my growing Starblazer collection

Star Blazer #187 - Mind Warrior

Starblazer #187 - Mind Warrior - In the battle to keep the warlike alien hordes at bay, the Terran Army used no end of ingenious devices in combat.  None were successful, non except the most ingenious device ever developed - The human brain...

This is a pretty average story where a crack group of Earth commandos need to neutralise the alien Zarg superweapon.  They discover that the Zarg are using a device known as the Time Gun to de-materialise asteroids and crash them into ships and space stations.

The eponymous "Time Warrior" doesn't turn up until page 40 and the book is only 66 pages long.  The plot leans heavily on deus ex machina which is incredibly lazy but does lend itself to the cliffhanger nature of all Starblazer storylines.  The hero usually saves the day by utilising some trait or technology that hasn't ever been discussed before.

Mind Warrior is particularly guilty of this in the final scene, I won't spoil it but even I had to do a doubletake.  Perhaps my nine year old self would not have been so critical... 

Starblazer #191 - Carter's Law

Starblazer #191 - Carter's Law - Frank Carter was a policeman in the huge Terran galaxy of the 32nd century.  His job was hard, lonely and extremely dangerous.  But he didn't mind - the harder, lonelier and more dangerous a job was, the more he liked it.  Carter was hated by some and disliked by most, but he was used to it.  He was half man, half android and completely mean.

This one's a gripping tale of corporate espionage as Carter and his newly appointed sidekick Dolan break every rule in the book to bring their quarry to justice.

Some top notch art for this episode which draws inspiration from news photo libraries of the day.  Repurposed images of riot gear wearing cops and a beautifully drawn ferret armoured car would have been very familiar to young readers watching news footage of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Carter is much more dramatically posed and his dialogue much fruitier than his first outing.  Could he have been inspired by early Dredd's one liners or is he channeling Clint Eastwood as a robotic Dirty Harry?  A solid second outing for our favourite mandroid.   

Starblazer #198 - Time Warriors

Starblazer #198 - Time Warriors - They were fighting men from the past, transported thousands of years into the future, and put in a life or death situation with a technology beyond their understanding.   

A cool concept for this story.  Six warriors from across Earth history are "drafted" to fight for a peace loving alien race to save the planet Paxos from domination by the dog headed Korvans. 

The fight takes place in an Arena and like ancient gladiators each warrior is pitted in single handed combat to the death against a Korvan adversary.  Galactic rules govern how the deathmatch is conducted and the primitive warriors must get in close to use melee weapons to deal a deadly and decisive blow.

This story could have had a great twist at the end, but the execution feels like a missed opportunity and a waste of a great sci-fi title.  It's a shame because the art is pretty good especially in the early pages where the warriors are plucked moments from death.  This storyline gets recycled in the movie Predators (2010)

Starblazer #199 - Netherworld

Starblazer #199 - Netherworld - Mikal R Kayn never went looking for trouble - it came looking for him.  Involved in a simple motorway shunt, he didn't anticipate much bother.  But he hadn't bargained on the body.

Ex cop turned Private Eye Mikal Kayn digs a little too deep when he finds a partially disintegrated corpse.  Someone doesn't want the case investigated and tries to set Kayn up. 

This is a really fun story and one that could easily work in Mega City One.  I really appreciate the clean lines of Jose Casanova's artwork.  His depictions of the weird and wonderful denizens of Netherworld and of the jungle planet Babalon make this story pop.  The character arcs of Cinnibar and Rulf are never really explained hopefully later Kayne stories will right that wrong.

Kayn is a great character, taken straight from the pages of a Mickey Spillane detective novel, a futuristic Mike Hammer who wears dark glasses to protect his infra-red eyes.  I'm going to look forward to reading more of his exploits in coming issues.

Starblazer #208 - Planet of the Dead

Starblazer #208 - Planet of the Dead - Thieves, Killers and Conmen... it didn't make any difference to Borg the Bounty Hunter.  He'd hunt them to the far reaches of the galaxy and bring them to justice.  He thought he'd seen it all till he came face to face with Baal.  This evil creation didn't just kill people... it sucked the very life force from them!

This story is a weird mashup of survival horror and an oddball team up between Borg and his two captive conmen against the evil space vampire Baal.

The artwork is serviceable and the character design on point as all vampires of this era wore black cloaks with high pointy collars.  Of course space vampires don't drain your blood they drain your life force and feed upon it making them ever stronger.  

Whilst there's not much to the story, it's a long chase sequence, there are some cool looking locations, landscapes and pirate ships on wheels.  All good worldbuilding fun for the princely sum of 28p...  

Essential Starblazer Links

The Starblazer Checklist is a fantastic resource if you are collecting or want to know who wrote and illustrated each issue.

Many thanks to the chaps who run the Starblazer Covers archive, this is immensely useful resource when looking at ebay joblot listings.

Retro Sanctuary has a great article covering his top 20 Starblazer Issues which is worth a look and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing some of these classics in the very near future.

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