Thursday, June 6, 2013

Quarter-Bin Review: Starslayer

Starslayer: The Director's Cut, issues 1-8, by Mike Grell, S. Clarke Hawbaker, Tim Burgard, and Jeff Albrecht. Windjammer /Acclaim Comics, 1995. 

This book had an interesting journey to publication. Starslayer was scheduled to be published by DC Comics, but as the economics of the industry changed, the book was axed from DC's schedule. Pacific Comics released six issues in 1982, written and drawn by Mike Grell, after which the series moved to First Comics. Grell wrote and provided breakdowns for issues 7 & 8 for First, before leaving Starslayer. The title continued without its creator for another 26 issues. These eight issues, titled Starslayer: The Director's Cut, are an expanded version of Grell's original six. The main new material is the framing sequences appearing in the first and last issues.

Tamra.  or is it Shakira?
Celtic warrior Torin Mac Quillon rallies his outnumbered clan against the invading Roman legions. As he faces death at the hands of Roman soldiers, he is pulled into the far future by the beautiful scientist Tamra. She has been tasked by the Earth's Board of Directors to find the perfect warrior from Earth's distant past to aid in their efforts to save the planet's dying sun. Along with their robot companion S.A.M. (symbiotic android mindlink), Torin and Tamra fight enemies without and within to save the Earth. It is a very fun romp of a story, a nice blending of ancient and future. 

or is it Tamra?
Grell handles the time-travel aspect of this tale well. Torin was selected for transport at the moment of his death, so there can be no "butterfly" effect from his temporal extraction. In a nice twist at the end, it is revealed that Tamra is a distant progeny of Torin's wife Gwyneth, from her second husband. This means that Torin cannot be sent back to his own time, because his continued life would cause Tamra to never have been born. In addition, the space aspects of this is also handled well. All of the action takes place in our own solar system, meaning that the travel and communication occur without relying on future technologies such as wormholes or transporters.

I am a big fan of Mike Grell, and have enjoyed his work on a wide range of titles, from Warlord and Jon Sable, Freelance to Green Arrow and the Legion of Super-Heroes. There are enough cosmetic similarities that an appropriate shorthand description of this series could be "Warlord ... in space!"

Mike Grell has a distinctive art style, and one that I enjoy. But I do need to say that there are numerous moments in this story that are similar to his work on Warlord. The most obvious how eerily similar Tamra's outfit is to the one worn often by Shakira in Warlord. Torin's facial hair bears some resemblance to Travis Morgan (also from Warlord), as well as Grell's version of Green Arrow. But his use of unique panel layouts and two-page splashes (usually one per issue) more than make up for that minor quibble, and overall the art adds much to this already enjoyable science fiction story. 

Source: my local comic shop's 25-cent bins!

1 comment:

  1. It's great when you find an author or illustrator you really connect with.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog on Tuesday. I've been having fun barn-building the new summer house.