Defender of the Universe: Revelations
the new ongoing series of G.I. Joe was announced, I
remember having a distinct feeling of dread that can only
be described as that deep nauseating fear that hits just before
a dentist puts a diamond tipped drill to one of your teeth.
In other words: nothing good will come of this situation.
And boy, was I right.
80's nostalgia craze in comics is only now starting to slow
down in its race toward mediocrity. Thanks to the success
of G.I. Joe and Transformers, the comic market
has had to endure Thundercats, three or four Thundercats
miniseries (including a crossover with Superman for no apparent
reason), He-Man and numerous comic tie-ins thereof,
not to mention the re-emergence of late 80's-early-90's phenom
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's proof that bad ideas
never die; they just linger until everyone feels "retro."
these comics just aren't very good, as they usually sacrifice
story element because, hey, they really don't need an engaging
narrative when the book is selling on artwork and the memories
founded long ago on badly crafted cartoons imported from Japan.
Damn your remarkable ability to draw mecha, Pat Lee. Damn
was one book from this revival that I was looking forward,
apprehensively forward, to reading, and that was Voltron.
I'm not sure why this cartoon stuck in my head when Jayce
and the Wheel Warriors or Bravestar failed to really
capture my fancy. Maybe it was the brightly colored costumes
and team aspect of five young people piloting giant lion robots
to battle evil blue-skinned space aliens. Maybe it was Princess
Allura's funky pink sweat suits. Who knows? Suffice it to
say, when I saw that the Voltron series had been collected,
I had to know.
was about as mediocre as I expected.
unaware, Voltron is the story of a future where Earth is in
something of a skirmish war with the Drule Empire, the blue
skinned aliens mentioned previously. Earth wants any advantage
it can get against the Empire, and is willing to investigate
any source, no matter how mythical, to obtain said advantage.
Hence, a mission is drawn up for five pilots, each of which
has no ties to Earth and no one to care if they die in service,
to go in search of the legendary "metal knight"
Voltron. Keith, Hunk, Pidge, Sven, and Lance set off to the
planet Arus in search of this lost battle technology and are
shot down upon arrival, crashing into the monarchy's burial
site. An angry villager or two later, the Princess Allura
greets them, and upon the discovery of four keys, the adventurers
start to find the five robot lions that Voltron has been split
into. Now they must protect Arus from incursions by the Drule
are a lot of interesting twists that writer Dan Jolley added
to the story that I remember. The bringing together of the
five pilots as a Black Ops outfit was interesting, but it's
never really explained what their placement in the armed forces
is. Keith is appointed leader but we never really know why
other than the military brass saying so and it's questionable
why they require two pilots (Lance and Sven). If the military
brass knew they would need people to pilot the lion ships,
why aren't the other three team members accomplished pilots?
overly brief introductions to each of the characters did provide
some hints as to the personality of each, but not much. Pidge
and Hunk are pretty much stereotypical "experts":
their characters are defined by their abilities, that of computer
technician and mechanical genius respectively. Lance is the
quintessential hothead, a thrill seeking pilot who gets the
Voltron assignment straight of out of the brig.
this is more detail then the show ever provided, at least
from what I can remember, this still isn't much in way of
character development. Giving Pidge, Hunk, and Lance these
qualities make them stock characters that aren't interesting
or important to the script. Keith gets more in way of background,
though it's briefly given by the military recruiters and not
really demonstrated. The character of Sven is the most interesting,
though we're told very little: he's written as if he spent
his military career doing the more unseemly jobs, using threats
of physical violence and showing a marked ability to shoot
down hovering jets with only a hand pistol. Jolley could actually
go places with the character, which would bring a bit more
depth to the script.
interesting points in the script involve the mechanics of
Voltron and they're welcome. When the team is linked in the
robot form of Voltron, they're mind-linked, allowing them
easy communication, as well as being telepathically linked
to their individual lion ships, allowing them to call up the
various weapons in the lion arsenals. It was something I always
wondered about in the show and I'm glad they added these technical
artwork is average, but it gets better after the first ten
pages or so. There were three pencilers on the book: Mike
Norton, Mark Brooks, and Clint Hillinski. Pages aren't assigned
so I really have no idea who drew what, but the first few
pages o art are badly put together: Hunk looks like he's the
world's best bodybuilder except he's supposed to be pudgy,
which he is when the artists suddenly change, and all the
characters eyes tend to bulge out of their sockets. The artist
even manages to make Voltron look too muscular, not a small
feat for a robot. When the artwork changes, facial features
become more defined and details show up. Keith and Hunk actually
look Asian, but not overly, and the bulging-eyed nerdiness
of Pidge is played down. The battle scenes are not put together
well and the flow is never exciting.
valiant effort by the boys at Devil's Due Publishing to update
more 80's material, but it ultimately fails. It annoys me
because the concept of Voltron is a good one and could have
been far more interesting if handled better. It's definitely
not worth the $11.95 they're charging.
Voltron Volume 1: Revelations