What was....STARRIORS?

I had a very good birthday this year. As is customary in the office, many people supplied snacks for both myself and well-wishers heading by my cubicle, including a plethora of bagels and an amazing cake. As I mentioned in my birthday post, two of my friends at work, Curt and Jerry, broke the food tradition and instead chipped in and got me a bunch of old comics. One I'd never heard of and after reading it, set out to research and learn what I could.

The comic was Starriors #1. The cover illustration style was very familiar to me although it wasn't customary to credit cover artists on comics back in those days. The comic had a November 1984 cover date, and I checked it against another comic in my collection that it reminded me of, Transformers #1. Further research revealed that the similarity in style was no coincidence; both covers were illustrated by the inimitable Bill Sienkiewicz.

Both comics were based on toys, and both were four-ssue limited series. Starriors were a subsection of the Zoids line originally produced by Tomy, but it seems Hasbro now owns the rights. I owned a Zoid, a dragon with big wheels and a small chrome “pilot”. In the Starriors comic, there are no humans and the chrome “pilots” are actually “control circuits” made in the image of man. Legend has it that man built the Starriors, but none of them know what happened to their creators. Louise Simonson does an outstanding job of infusing these machines with real personalities and stimulating empathy on the part of the reader. I first became a fan of her work on X-factor when her husband Walt was penciling, but some may remember her as Louise Jones from her Star Wars® days.

Starriors seems to be the typical comic based on a toy of the ’80s. I wonder where the story went after the first issue, if the lost humans were ever rediscovered. Transformers had the advantage of a television series and a better gimmick--I don't think the Starriors had more than one form. Some were robots, others always futuristic construction vehicles. I suppose the toys, like Zoids, were assembled and motorized, but that couldn't be assimilated as well into the storyline. Transformers toys were definitely more popular, although the popularity of a toy isn't always indicative of how well the comic does, as another old favorite of mine, ROM: Spaceknight proved. I had never heard of the ROM toy and didn't even know there was one until years after I collected the comic. One day my dad brought a copy home from work for me from one of the other mechanics in his garage, and I eventually went back and collected most of the back issues. Transformers was by far my favorite, and probably destined to be the most frequent pop culture reference on this blog. Their four-issue limited series concluded with the shocking destruction of 99% of the Autobots by the Decepticon Shockwave. This wasn't the end of course, as the series continued with issue #5, which featured a painted cover by Mark D. Bright and to this day is still one of my favorite comic book cover illustrations. Best of all, when the series finally came to an end with issue #80, the cover paid homage to the series' origins with the caption, ”#80 in a Four-issue Limited Series.” I loved that.

I wonder what Starriors #80 would have been like....


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