Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Shogun Warriors, Part 3

 I'm a little torn about these two issues (Shogun Warriors #7 & 8--August & September 1979). The first big story arc has been brought to a satisfying conclusion with Maur-Kon's monster-making base destroyed. So this is the dramatically appropriate place to put in a lull and give us some background on the human characters.

And, since the Shogun Warrior robots are essentially weapons systems without personalities of their own, it makes sense to give us some in-depth characterizations for their pilots.

Writer Doug Moench does give us likable protagonists with clearly defined personalities. Richard Carson rejoins his girl friend Deena (also a stunt driver), Ilongo Savage returns to his research on dolphins (this was right smack in the middle of the "dolphins-can-be-taught-human-language" phase of science fiction). Genji Odashu has to explain what the heck happened to the prototype airplane she was flying when the Fellowship of the Light teleported her away and drafted her into anti-robot combat.

It's all good stuff and we really do like these guys. But the first half of the seventh issue undeniably drags a little. Moench's tendency to write dialogue-heavy scripts is probably a negative here. In a Moench story, no one ever says anything in just one sentence when they can drag it across three or four sentences.

Oh, well. It's not as if half a comic is all that long a time. The action picks up again soon. And that action is well worth waiting for.

Also, I do wonder why the Shogun pilots have such trouble getting anyone to believe their stories. One presumes monster fights through the streets of a city would make the 6 o'clock news even in a comic book universe. And it is a comic book universe--we will eventually learn that it is set firmly in regular Marvel continuity. So getting teleported away to be the pilots for giant anti-monster robots isn't all that unusual.

By the end of the eighth issue, Genji's been arrested, while Savage is about to investigate a strange meteor that landed near his location. But the action centers mostly around Carson and his robot Raydeen.

A mysterious new monster shows up along the West Coast of the U.S.--fortunately not far from where Carson and Deena are shooting a film. The Followers teleport Raydeen to the area. Carson soon has to bring Deena aboard the robot with him to keep her out of the crossfire once the fight begins. But that turns out to be a good thing--she proves to be a skilled co-pilot.

The monster, by the way, is a really dandy one. It's called Cerberus because it has many heads--
actually, five detachable vehicles that can rejoin as its head in different combinations to give it different capabilities.

That's just cool.

Herb Trimpe continues to give us great battle scenes, with this particular fight spilling over into the next issue.

Except for a few scenes to set up Savage's and Genji's respective story arcs, the battle lasts through the eighth issue, given extra flavor when Carson/Raydeen needs to take time to rescue a Coast Guard ship (and give them a talking too for shooting at him as well as Cerberus).

A few minutes after that, Raydeen has to save people in a cliff-side house that's been knocked loose by a stray shot from Cerberus.

Cerberus is eventually forced to retreat. Its origin is still a mystery, but it's no longer endangering anyone.

All things considered, these two issues continue to provide us with real fun and adventure. I even realize that my criticisms above can be seen as unfair--we do need to have some effort to flesh out the human characters. It's just that the poor people are competing for attention against robots and monsters. No mere mortal can ever stand against that.

Next week, we'll return to Gotham City and watch Batman.... beat up some blind guys? Gee whiz, Bruce!

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