Over the past few months we’ve been looking at Devil’s Due’s run of Voltron: Defender Of The Universe, their reboot of the classic series. And I have very much enjoyed the series. While it did it’s own thing the tone and spirit of the original series was intact. There was no unnecessary character additions or strange origins, like the Dynamite comics started out with. (You can find those reviews and see why I dropped the title back then. I don’t regret it. I think the classic Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers remake were the only recreated series I enjoyed from Dynamite. And even then Dynamite had basically the same plot every time for BSG while Buck’s stories lost focus near the end of the main series.)
So when I heard the Omnibus had the unpublished issue I stupidly went and bought it despite already having the rest of the series. The question is whether or not the final story was worth this money. SPOILER: Not really, but I’ll get into that. I want to start with a review of the collection itself. The Omnibus collects both of the Voltron: Defender Of The Universe series, both the miniseries (including the #0 preview) and the ongoing (volume 2). But is this collection worth tracking down, or are you better off skipping the final story and just getting the individual issues? Well, it’s partly down to personal preference, but let’s take an actual look for you to judge.
Voltron Complete Omnibus Collection
Devil’s Due (January, 2008)
WRITERS: Marie Croall, Dan Jolley, Mike O’Sullivan, & Mark Waid
PENCILERS: Mark Brooks, Ryan Browne, Clint Hilinski, Alitha Martinez, Mike Norton, Clement Sauve, & E.J. Su
INKER: Clayton Brown (in the issues that actually had an inker listed)
COLORISTS: Barbara Bargiggia, Danimation, Ben Hunzeker, Nate Lovett, Fredierica Manfredi, David Messina, Jeremy Robers, & Brett R. Smith
LETTERING: Crank! & Dreamer Design
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS: Sean Dove & Mike Norton
EDITORS: Mark Powers & Mike O’Sullivan
PRODUCTION: Jenna Dalgety & Sam Wells
SPECIAL THANKS: Ted Koplar, Tiffany Ilardi, Jeremy Dorray, & Everyone At World Events
It should be noted that this isn’t a completely complete omnibus, if that makes sense to you. It is missing the five-part mini-series A Legend Forged, which we’ll be looking at during the daily comic reviews in the coming weeks to close out Voltron’s domination of the site. (It also means I need to find a replacement for the Wednesday comic review soon.) This only collects volumes one and two of Voltron: Defender Of The Universe, including the two-chapter back-up on Zarkon’s early years Mark Waid was working on.
The book is a hardback about the size of a regular comic book but looks like a novel from the outside, right down to the cover sleeve. The book itself just has the name on the spine and a big Voltron logo on the front. It’s certainly easier to go over than the Dark Horse He-Man newspaper collection I’ve been looking at lately. For some reason I thought it was a lot larger, possibly because that’s the size I expect an omnibus to be at this point, despite the collection of Marvel’s Godzilla series also being normal comic size, just in paperback.
My biggest gripe against the Omnibus is that there is rarely a space between issues. The covers are all collected in a gallery, including all the variants, and at times the “to be continued” or similar caption boxes have been removed. This is bothersome because different creative teams were brought in at different times. The cover gallery doesn’t even have the artists listed or what issue each cover and variant cover was for. I can’t even confirm who wrote and drew the exclusive finale, so I don’t know who to blame for the art not living up to the rest of the series. And considering all the beautiful art surrounding it thanks to the published issues, cover gallery, and Zarkon tale (which also isn’t split into the Lowman and Midman periods) it’s all the more disappointing, especially since I’m probably not the only one who bought this only to see how the story finally ended. So how did it end?
We left Haggar and Merla in the RoBeast pits fighting. Merla demands to be sent back to Caladran, although I would think her home planet or at least somewhere in her kingdom of the Drule Supremacy would be better options. Otherwise she’s going to be alone on a dead planet. Sure, she doesn’t know Sven was willing to sacrifice himself, or broke out of her mental spell thanks to Voltron, but did she think he and Lotor would be waiting for her? She attempts to use her telepath to take control of the gateway, with Haggar warning magic can’t be controlled that way. Sure enough there’s an explosion of energy.
Back on the Arusian ship we left Allura meeting up with some Drule I don’t remember seeing before but Allura thinks was locked up, and who I assume to be an injured Lotor. She takes a swing at them with both with the staff, but they vanish, as does the rigged explosion Keith and Lance saw. The Voltron Force gathers back together, with Pidge and Hunk not willing to discuss what they saw. Why? Last we saw they were detecting a partly cloaked ship. What did it turn out to be, the Goodyear blimp? A giant clown car? I can only assume this wasn’t the story Croall was intending since that cliffhanger was thrown away far too easily to make sense. If that was her intention then it wasn’t a very good cliffhanger. Still better than we saw with King Of The Rocket Men though, so I’ve seen worse. However, they do find an injured Lotor, just as another Lotor takes a sword swipe at Allura before vanishing. Figuring out at least part of what’s going on, that this has something to do with Merla and Haggar, Lotor suggests everyone head back to Caladran.
On the way there (with Lotor tied up behind Keith’s seat) Coran informs them that there have been similar disturbances going on all over the galaxy. Meanwhile, we check in with Sven on what I assume is planet Pollux, but it’s never named. And the Dreamworks Netflix series can’t decide if they want to use the Voltron or GoLion names so we may never have a planet Pollux again. Romelle is there when Sven wakes up from a vision by Voltron, possibly boosted thanks to all the psychic phenomenon going on, and he asks Romelle for a ship to go after Voltron. This will confuse me later.
Arriving at Caladran, our heroes–and Lotor–are confronted by a dog, or possibly bat but I’m not blaming the artists for this one, headed RoBeast who is the source of the disturbances. I think. I don’t know if this thing is supposed to be a fusion of Haggar and Merla, a RoBeast infused by their power, or what it’s supposed to be. The story is very unclear. At any rate the Voltron Force can’t handle the psychic attacks until Sven arrives. Although unsure of what state of mind Sven is currently in they allow him to dock with Voltron (don’t ask me how) and allow the guy who was just recently being controlled by Merla to waltz right into the heart of Voltron. Oddly, Allura is the one most questioning this. Why is this odd? Because Allura just spent the last story arc trying to free his mind and the only reason they were on the Arusian ship besides needing the technology was because she hoped the distress call was from Sven. But here’s where I get confused.
Sven was supposedly able to be influenced by Merla because of a brain defect that current medical science–and I mean Galaxy Union science, not Arus in its current state–couldn’t find. Yet now this same defect somehow makes Sven immune to the psychic attack of the RoBeast because…? He makes contact with Voltron’s “heart” and the Voltron Force find themselves psychically linked with a stronger bond than ever. (I should also note this is the first time in the entire run that they refer to themselves as the Voltron Force, since they’re never called this by anybody throughout the the two volumes.) Somehow this allows him to add his immunity that he shouldn’t have from what we’ve seen previously to the union as well as a sixth mind, and this allows them to defeat the RoBeast. Merla and Haggar are back on the surface because…? Lotor…wait, how is Lotor down there when last we saw him he was tied up inside Black Lion? We don’t see him steal Sven’s ship and escape. He’s just there on the surface, grabbing Haggar and running off, leaving a confused Merla behind.
Then whomever wrote this wraps up the series. The Vehicle Team Voltron is seen flying off (in what was probably the worst art piece in the story–and no I can’t do better, what’s your point?), but we don’t get a final goodbye from them. We should just be glad they were acknowledged. The Force makes peace with Sven, and Allura hands him his uniform…which he didn’t actually have in the comic because they weren’t even sure they had a pressure suit in black before going on the mission to retrieve the Lions. They offer to have him stay but Sven says he wants to start a new life while hinting Sven and Romelle may be a couple despite in-story they’ve barely known each other for days, and she’s not even introduced to the team so maybe she isn’t Allura’s cousin here. I don’t know. Then they get a call about another Drule attack and race off in their Lions, while Zarkon is probably not involved since he’s busy punishing Lotor and Haggar in an ending that feels like the writer was imitating the show despite the series not doing that. The end.
This ending does not satisfy at all. I like the idea of the psychic RoBeast but I can’t figure out where it came from. I like that Sven and the others made peace but it feels forced. The art doesn’t live up to any of the art in the Omnibus. The whole thing feels like someone slapped together an ending for the Omnibus without any real thought put into continuity. Considering how great the writing and art have been in this series, this is a terrible way to end the series. I don’t know why Devil’s Due lost the license but this was a bad way to go out. It doesn’t help that the other miniseries was also terrible, as you’ll be seeing.
This brings us back to my question: should you get the Omnibus or seek out the individual issues? Well, if you already have the issues the Omnibus isn’t worth bothering. If you don’t, then having the Omnibus isn’t necessarily a bad option. One purchase and you have the Voltron stories worth having, since like I said A Legend Forged isn’t every good and you at least know how the series ends, lacking as that ending may be. I don’t plan to give up either currently because I like knowing who worked on each issue and that’s how I read comics anyway, but there are some positives here as well. The cover gallery minus the trade dressing is nice, and I have the ending. At some point I might give up the individual issues, but don’t ask me for them now. As far as this stage of my comic organizing project I don’t feel the urge to let this go. The same can’t be said for A Legend Forged but we’ll get to that.