Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Shogun Warriors--Part 5
Shogun Warriors #12 (January 1980) is the first of a three-part epic adventure that takes the robots into space and finishes up the story arc that began back in issue #8. Remember that the robots have been getting attacked individually by weird monsters arriving on Earth inside meteors. Now, a particularly large meteor--big enough to destroy civilization--is heading for Earth.
The Followers summons all three robots to deal with this situation, but not before we get a little more characterization. Genji is now on the run from the Japanese government for supposedly stealing the prototype plane she was flying way back in issue #1. (So far, it hasn't been explained why the Followers of the Light haven't themselves returned the darn plane to help clear her. Actually, I hadn't thought of that myself until just now, but I'm not a mad scientist genius--just a regular genius.)
So Genji flies Combatra to the U.S. and asks Richard Carson if she can stay with him. Carson's gal, Deena, is a tad annoyed that a hot woman shows up out of nowhere and asks to live with Deena'a boyfriend. She throws a tantrum, which might have been a bad direction to take with a character we are supposed to like. But an immediate knee-jerk reaction like that is actually understandable and Deena is ready to apologize a few moments later. Unfortunately for her, Carson and Genji are beamed away to deal with that darn meteor.
I haven't the faintest idea if I have any female readers. But if I do, please allow me to advice you never to fall in love with a Giant Robot Pilot. It's just plain embarrassing when they get beamed away just as they are proposing, about to say "I do," or buying you a cupcake.
Anyways, the Warriors fly into space to break apart the meteor, which they do with dispatch. But this has taken them to the far side of the moon, where they spot a really, really big space station.
Over the next few issues, we find out what's going on. The villain here is Doctor Demonicus, a mad scientist who specializes in making giant monsters. He had originally appeared in Godzilla #4 a few years earlier, using his monsters to take vengeance on a world that he felt had rejected him. Godzilla had helped put a stop to that. It's interesting to see how writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe handle the necessary exposition, since Marvel Comics could no longer mention Godzilla by name. We are simply told that Demonicus was originally defeated by "a rather extraordinary agent." The captions we would normally expect to see identifying the specific issue in which this happened is simply not there.
Anyway, Demonicus had sent the monsters that had fought the robots over the previous three issues, testing the robots before deciding to add them to his stable of monsters for his eventual conquest of Earth. First, he plans to destroy civilization with yet another meteor. Then he'll come down with his monsters and giant robots to take over whatever remains.
So when the Shoguns approach the station, they get hit by a force beam. Combatra and Raydeen are sent flying into space at speeds too great for their retro rockets to stop, while Dangard Ace smashes into the moon. The impact knocks out Savage.
Shogun Warriors #13 (Feb. 1980) has Dangard Ace brought into the space station and supposedly imprisoned. But Savage manages to trick Demonicus' soldiers into thinking he's damaged more severely than he is, then breaks free and starts breaking stuff.
The other two robots use some passing asteroids to reverse their direction and head back to the Moon. It annoys me that I can't figure out if the physics they use to do this actually makes real world sense, but it sounds good in terms of Comic Book Science, so works fine in context to the story.
The three robots reunite and begin to search the space station, curb-stomping a batch of monsters they encounter.
But SW #14 (March 1980) shows us that the tactical situation has changed. The robots encounter the three monsters who nearly defeated them on Earth.
Initially, Genji, Carson and Savage are disheartened by this and are themselves nearly curb-stomped by the monsters. But a rousing speech from the head of the Followers allows them to pull themselves together. They discover that by working together, they can destroy the monsters one-by-one.
But Demonicus still launches another huge meteor at Earth. The Shogun Warriors end up using a chunk of the space station to knock it aside before it hits the planet. Demonicus and his minions are then dropped off where Dum Dum Dugan and a SHIELD task force can find them.
Taking the action into space is a great change-of-pace after nearly a dozen issues of wrecking cities on Earth. The fight scenes are all cool, with Herb Trimpe still channeling his inner eight-year-old to come up with bizarre but incredibly fun monster designs. The fights are also well-choreographed, laying out the action logically and with the robots employing tactics that make complete sense in context of a Comic Book universe.
Doug Moench still displays his tendency to put in a lot (and I mean a lot) of dialogue and expository captions. Sometimes, this is to the detriment of his stories. But here, it works. Moench and Trimpe manage to spread the action out across the story in such a way that the overall pacing is fast enough to keep things moving.
There's also a few nice character moments mixed in with the action. I especially like Carson and Savage arguing over which of them must risk their lives to stop the meteor by employing a particularly dangerous maneuver, then having Genji jump in with a "Stop it, both of you" and telling them they both need to take the risk.
So this wraps up the second long story arc of the series. I'm still reviewing these as I read them for the first time, but I did notice that issue #15 is a self-contained tale--probably a good idea after two long stories. So when we return to the Shogun Warriors, we'll take a look at that particular issue.
Next week, we return to World War 2 and once again deal with dinosaurs, taking a look at how the whole "diinosaurs vs. G.I.s" thing got started.