Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Shogun Warriors, Part 2

Last time we talked about the Shogun Warriors, I covered the first five issues and planned on covering the rest of the 20-issue run in three more 5-issue lumps. But I'm having such fun reading these for the first time that I've decided to take a little more time--with each entry covering from 1 to 3 issues. That'll let me talk about them in a little more detail without making any one post too long. (Not that any of you read my blog while you should be working and so need post entries to be relatively short. That would be wrong.)

Today, I'm just going to cover Shogun Warriors #6 (July 1979), because it really is a rolicking and particularly fun story that I don't want to gloss over too quickly. Remember that the previous issue ended with the robots Raydeen & Danguard Ace fighting the science/alchemy hybrid Mecha-Monster, while Combatra back-tracked the monster to the villains' lair. (I really loved writing that sentence, by the way.) Both Combatra  and its pilot Genji were captured.

Mecha-Monster is a pretty tough cookie, but the Shogun pilots come up with a strategy that allows Raydeen to fire an explosive arrow down its throat, blowing it up from the inside.

With the monster out of the way, the two robots follow after Combatra, only to be find out that robot is now being piloted by Maur-Kon, the leader of the bad guys.

Meanwhile, Maur-Kon's lieutenant Magar is still up to shenanigans. Maur-Kon and Magar have a
relationship that might remind modern readers a little bit of Megatron & Starscream--though those two characters didn't exist in 1979, so the parallel is coincidental. Also, the parallel isn't exact. Magar doesn't want to take over simply because he's an arrogant jerk who wants power. He also still objects to Maur-Kon giving up sorcery and turning to pure science to create monsters.

So Magar hangs Genji over a pit of magma, planning on sacrificing her and using her life force to create another monster. Magar has messed up with this once already--that's why Mecha-Monster was rampaging around without still being under the villains' control. But Magar is nothing if not single-minded.

Well, he's also kind of incompetent. Things go awry again when Genji wakes up and swings aside before the magma can reach up to her. Apparently, you should never play with the food of magically-animated magma, because it instantly decides to try to eat Magar instead. The magma ends up destroying the base in its efforts to catch its dinner. Whether Magar gets away made isn't clear--I have a feeling he might reappear in the future as a monster.

While all this is happening, Maur-Kon is using Combatra to clean the collective clocks of the other Shogun Warriors.  Fortunately, Genji shows up in a "borrowed" tank and knocks Combatra's block off with a surprise shot.

Maur-Kon gets away, but his organization seems to have been defeated. This brings the premiere story arc to an end, with the three pilots all told they can now go home and try to explain to friends and family just where they've been for the last few weeks. Each has an amulet via which they can be summoned if needed again.

This is a really fun issue. Trimpe's art is great and both the major action set pieces (The fight against Mecha-Monster and the Shogun vs. Shogun battle) are effectively choreographed. It's completely fulfills the mission of all giant robots vs. monsters stories by giving us nifty looking robots, bizarre monsters and exciting battle scenes.

We'll return in the about a month for a look at issues #7 & 8, which will begin to expand on the human characters. That's always a little bit dangerous in a book where we come for the robots and monsters. If the abysmal live-action Transformers movies taught us nothing else, it's that you don't spend too much time with puny humans when you have giant robots in the story. But we'll see how it works out for the Shogun Warriors.

Next week, Ben Grimm puts together a poker game with some friends--but he should know by now that his poker games always include something other than poker.

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