Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More science fiction comics

Last fall, I did a post on science fiction comic books and which titles I considered to be the best of the genre.  It was a rather narrow selection as there are many titles I could have chosen.  Since that post, I’ve written about 2000 A.D. and Marvel’s all-too-brief 2001 series.  Today, I thought I would cover a few more books that I find to be enjoyable entries in the realm of science fiction comic books.

Guardians of the Galaxy—Marvel’s team of space-based superheroes have been around since 1969, but my first real exposure to them was when their ongoing series was released in 1990.  The roster included several characters that were apparently the last of their race.  There was the strongman, Charlie 27 from Jupiter; the crystalline Martinex from Pluto, the blue-skinned, Avatar-like Yondu from Beta Centauri, Major Astro, the astronaut from Earth’s 20th Century, the dual being called Starhawk, and Nikki…who apparently didn’t warrant a cool nickname.  The Guardians are united against the alien race known as the Badoon who have conquered Earth, although their adventures usually found them waylaid against other foes.  The really fun part of this series was all the nods to and future incarnations of present 
Marvel characters.

Magnus, Robot Fighter—this is a title that has gone through several publishers and reboots.  Originating in Gold Key Comics, Magnus was later produced by Valiant Comics where I came to know the character.  Magnus was a man raised in the year 4000 by a robot named 1A.  This future society is utterly dependent on robots, a few of which have developed free will and gone rogue.  This requires the super strong, super durable, and marital arts expert non-parel known as Magnus to track them down.  I’ve only read Valiant’s run by Jim Shooter which was really rather fun.  The legendary Russ Manning did the original and I plan on seeing if a trade of those issues is available.

Hardcore Station—no, this has nothing to do with adult film.  This was a six-issue limited series released by DC and written and drawn by Jim Starlin, probably the best comics creator to ever do space-based stories.  The space station was located at a crossroads of numerous trade routes.  This had the side affect of turning it into “a haven for every cut-throat in the galaxy.”  Sound familiar?  Yeah, probably from a variety of places.  No matter, Hardcore Station was original enough to survive the little known print run and resurface in the past few years as a critical locale in both Mystery in Space and The Rann-Thanagar War.  Which leads me to…

The Rann-Thanagar War—another six-part miniseries, this time tied in with DC’s Infinite Crisis mess.  As one might expect, it involved amilitary conflict between the planet Rann (home to Adam Strange) and the survivors of Thanagar (home to Hawkman).  The entire planet of Rann was actually teleported into Thanagar’s star system, causing the latter planet to go crashing into their home sun.  Ill feelings among the Thanagarians result.  The series does of course feature Adam Strange and Hawkman as well Captain Comet, the L.E.G.I.O.N., and a whole mess of Green Lanterns.

Silver Surfer—I’m shocked and stunned that I did not include the Surfer in my original post.  Norrin Radd was an astronomer on the planet Zenn-La.  When the world-devourer known as Galactus showed up to eat Zenn-La, Radd pleaded for the planet and his love, Shalla-Bal, to be spared.  He offered to do anything Galactus asked in return.  Galactus agreed and made Radd his herald, the one who would ferret out planets for Galactus to consume.  To accomplish this task, Galactus transformed Radd into the Silver Surfer, a silver-encased being who rides through space on a surfboard and wields the Power Cosmic.  In typing this out, I really have come to understand how ridiculous that whole concept sounds on paper…er, screen.  Apparently, Stan Lee thought the same thing when Jack Kirby created the character.  Fortunately for comics readers everywhere, Stan was won over by the nobility of the Surfer’s spirit.  This was showcased when he betrayed Galactus and joined the Fantastic Four (another great science fiction comic) to defend Earth against the planet eater.  What I liked best about Silver Surfer storylines was his ability as an outsider to philosophize on and often mourn the inhuman tendencies of humanity.

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