Saturday, November 8, 2008

These Ain't Your Granddaddy's Star-Rovers!


Another weekend, and the wife is sleeping in, so here's another review of a comic from the old collection at casa de Stanford. Hmmm, that really doesn't work work with an English name. Oh, well, until we come up with another name for the homestead, let's just get started with the review.

Twilight #1 was a prestige format book, the first in a series of three books by author Howard Chaykin, famous for the 80s independent comic American Flagg, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, who'd done a lot of work for DC over the course of the 1980s, even having the mass-marketed Superman image for the late 1980s.

My friend Joel first exposed me to this book and for the better part of eight years, I sought to complete my own collection of all three books. Being square-bound, they usually sit on my bookshelf, which probably isn't good for their longevity, but who cares, they're just comics. 

As always, Spoilers abound from here. Don't say that I didn't warn you. A word of warning, the set-up is so huge for the story, that my Summary may have some factual errors.


It's the future, an elderly Homer Glint, while chasing after his seeing-eye cat, comes across momentos of his past. The story begins during a hostage crisis in the jungle, where bio-engineered animal men are holed up with the journalistic adventurer team known as the Star-Rovers while military hero John Starker prepares a commando team to storm in and rescue the hostages. Tempers flare in the hut, when Rick Purvis goes nuts after learning that teammate Karel Sorenson has had a sexual relationship with one of the ape men, and he proceeds to behead their leader, which makes him a hero across known space, even as far as the fleet of ships commanded by the Nazi-esque Tommy Tomorrow, on a search for immortality, long promised. Purvis's perceived heroism gets the Star Rovers an assignment off world that looks promising in the legend of a "new messiah."

Private detective Star Hawkins rescues his brother John Starker from drunken self-imposed exile in a Mexican robot brothel, because he's needed to rescue a robot companion, Ilda, whose been captured in a mad quest for immortality involving Starker's old military partner, Tommy Tomorrow. Ilda's being held by Tomorrow's ex-wife Brenda, believed killed in the final battle with an alien race called Mesthusaloids years before. In meeting with Tomorrow, Brenda reveals the secret to immortality is in the flesh of the Mesuthaloids.

The Star Rovers meet with the Mesuthaloids on a distant planet, only to be attacked by Tommy Tomorrow, whose careless sniper fire ignites the Star Rovers' wooden ship (yes, they bought a wooden space ship) which causes a huge explosion that kills Purvis, blinds Homer, and merges Karel with many of the Mesuthaloids making her the new messiah, a living Goddess that gives immortality to the enitre human race.


This story is really good, even if you don't know the original characters that the cast is based on. Supposedly, Space Ranger shows up, but I'll be damned if I know where. The book is written very well, and the world of the future, circa 2070 we can guess by the inclusion of John Starker, Manhunter 2070, is very real and this should be considered a very good sci-fi story. The language is very harsh at times and the predilictions of Starker for robots meets the definition of "adult situations." Like I said in the spoiler warning, the first issue is a little hard to follow givwen that the cast is broad, and getting them to meet near the conclusion does take some doing that could have done with a little more exposition. There are no vast leaps in technology that ask for such suspension of disbelief that would make the story unreadable, unlike in the stories that this is based upon.

The artwork is by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, who I cannot remember a time when he has not delivered excellent storytelling and expert anatomy. My favorite parts of this story are his renderings of robots, especially Ilda. The original Ilda had a football-shaped head, but this Ilda is very desirable, and heck, who can fault John Starker for wanting to visit the robot brothels in old Mexico?


This issue, this series has never been collected. That's a shame, as it's really good. Finding it in back issue bins is really hard as you'll inevitably come up one issue short. You shouldn't pay much over cover price for them, and may even luck out in the bargain bins.

FINAL RATING: 8.5 (out of 10)

The issue is a little harder to follow and really requires devotion to read and study. Chaykin is a writer for intelligent readers. It can be a little inaccessible for a casual comics reader. Garcia-Lopez is a very detailed artist here, and at times his layouts seem to break the rules that are taught to aspiring comic artists, but that's where he excells and proves his mastery. A great comic artist knows when and how to break the rules. Overall, the series is really good and merits a 9, but this issue, while pivotal and necessary, is a little weaker than the whole.

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