I know this isn’t the comic I said I’d do but I’ve had this article in my toolbar waiting for me to finally review a Starriors minicomic so I gave in. What are the Starriors?
Created by Tomy, the Starriors takes place in one of may post-apocalyptic Earths, back when they still had utopias to balance things out. By now dystopia is all sci-fi wants to do to our planet and I’m long since tired of it. I used to be able to enjoy a story set in Earth gone to heck on occasion but now I’m long past over it. I wasn’t into the toys because by that point if it wasn’t tied to Star Wars I wasn’t into robots that didn’t transform into something.
The gimmick of the toys were that parts were interchangeable. The story of the line is that a cosmic event forced the remnants of man underground, leaving the Starriors to protect and restore the planet. For reasons explained in the Marvel miniseries (which will get reviewed in the daily comic reviews once I get there, though I’m missing an issue or two) to groups form. The Destructors are out to wipe out the Protectors for basically going against the cultural norm…most of them unaware that the Protectors are actually trying to find and reawaken man after finding proof he did exist. The Destructors’ leader, Slaughter Steelgrave, is convinced man’s return will mean the end of the Starriors and in his paranoia is manipulating everyone until the Protectors’ leader, Hotshot, learns man is alive and leads a group of other believers to find them. It helps that Hotshot’s group are mostly collectors and builders while Slaughter keeps all the nasty psychos in his party. And thus a toyline was born.
Marvel also produced six minicomics, released with the Starriors figures. In Marvel’s take, unlike what you saw in the commercial, the Starriors are the giant robots, like the Transformers and Robotix so someone was in a rut. For years I was hoping to find scans of the miniseries and got lucky recently when I found a site hosting all six issues. So let’s see if the minicomics were any good.
Starriors minicomic #1
scanned by Virtuanaut.net, link earlier in this article
Sadly this is another minicomic where nobody is credited for working on it outside of Marvel producing it. It’s always a shame to see that happen.
The story starts right in the action as the Destructors have the Protectors trapped in a culvert. It also works against the Destructors since despite Hotshot’s desire not to hurt his own kind the culvert is easily defensible as they have better cover for a laser battle. And right from the beginning you’ll see the biggest problem with this story: most of it is exposition. It’s a 16 page minicomic but I’d wager half of it is exposition of the situation, the motivations of both sides, and the backstory of the characters taking center stage, Deadeye and his partner Cricket. As I recall Deadeye was a motorized toy that turned based on how you clicked the Cricket accessory (I had a robot like that named Tobor–this is not the article for clever naming) and Marvel worked that into the story. Cricket is deaf having heard Deadeye’s explosions way up close and I guess they couldn’t repair a simple audio receptor. And Steelgrave thinks awakening people who can fix those things are the herald of doom? Cricket however can point Deadeye to his targets since Deadeye is blind. I sense a design flaw here.
Steelgrave orders Cricket to have Deadeye attack the culvert and if you’re wondering how he can give those orders, keep wondering. Steelgrave has no lips to read and Cricket has no ears to hear. And yet it’s the Protectors who are the dysfunctional ones here. One thing we see are the different perspectives here. Some want to fight to not get blown up while Hotshot and some of the others are convinced they just need to let the Destructors know Steelgrave is playing them. Given how psychotic everyone except Sawtooth is I find it unlikely they care. Hotshot, who spends more time on the ground than on his feet in this story, wants to capture one of the Destructors and tell him the truth. It will not be the only one who might care they will grab so a bit of a spoiler for how this is going to go.
Cricket and Deadeye show up and Cricket’s lack of talking is easily made up by Deadeye not shutting up! He keeps going on and on about “path of righteousness” this and “let’s blow stuff up” that, and you’d think the two aren’t going to get a long until you realize that he’s kind of a dope. Of course he’s also a giant T-Rex on wheels that spits exploding bomb disks called Demolishors. One of them seems to be a dud so Cricket goes to grab it but two of the Protectors, Tinker and Nippor (who usually are trash collectors), try to grab it first. Cricket can’t lift both of them and the Demolishor…especially when it explodes…and the three fall to the ground. With Cricket down Deadeye goes crazy and fires at everything, including his own comrades. Methinks Mr. “Blind Justice” here may not be the best tool in Steelgrave’s arsenal.
Crank, another of the Protectors with a huge drill in his chest, checks on all three, deciding Cricket is a good choice to take prisoner and also he’s a fellow Starrior and shouldn’t just be left to die or whatever robots do. Despite the protests from some of the others that they should just wipe him out Crank thinks Hotshot should tell him all about man instead. It’s kind of interesting that the story simply portrays the two different opinions, pacifist and combatant, among the heroes and doesn’t really judge. In this case Hotshot and Crank are right but at least in the shelf comics we see that sometimes they do have to fight in order to survive. Of course Hotshot has to point out that telling a Starrior who can’t hear about anything is a waste of time, so Crank decides to let him go rather than just commit cold oiled murder. Cricket appears to thank them by having Deadeye blast the culvert walls, allowing the Protectors to get away.
This issue is a mixed bag. I understand wanting to get the kids up to speed about the world they’re about to play in, but this isn’t necessarily going to be their first minicomic, which makes me worry this is going to be a regular occurrence. Between the box and cards for the toys and the back of the minicomic according to this scan it’s not like the backstory for the toyline is inaccessible. Once they get that out of the way it’s actually not a bad story though. We see the differences between the Protectors and Destructors and that the Protectors do have differing opinions like the humans they seek to wake up. It does sell the toy well enough but I have to question a number of Slaughter Steelgrave’s decisions, as well as why anyone who isn’t even would follow a guy names Slaughter Steelgrave. With any luck the other five will focus more on story than backstory.
Next time I’ll get to the Iron Man comic I planned to review this time, while the Starriors will return in their proper position in the rotation and whenever I get to the shelf miniseries for the daily comic review.