|Cover dated July 1980|
After a rare weak issue with Shogun Warriors #17, the series ends with a satisfying bang.
Ilongo Savage and his robot Dangard Ace get the spotlight this time in issue #18 when the aliens attack again, sending a giant robot named Megatron to destroy him.
It's just a coincidence that the robot (even bigger than the Shoguns) shares a name with the leader of the Decipticons. The creation of the Transformers mythos is still a few years away at this point. But its a fun coincidence.
The battle is a neat one. An ocean liner is caught in the crossfire, so Savage has to worry about protecting innocents while fighting for his life. It's a situation that Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe have used repeatedly throughout the series, but it makes sense and the variety of monsters the Shoguns have fought keep it from getting stale.
I also enjoy the fact that Savage is desperately calling for help from the other Shoguns. But their communication pendants no longer exist and (at first) neither Carson or Genji happen to be the cockpits of their robots to get his message.
Carson finally does hear the call for help, though, and takes Raydeen through a near-orbit loop to get to Savage quickly. Megatron is big and powerful enough to shrug off even the combined attack of two Shoguns, though. Fortunately, he helpfully acknowledges he can't swim when asked (a contrived moment in an otherwise fun fight scene), so the good guys win by simply knocking him into the ocean.
This, by the way, is the last time we get to see Dangard Ace and Raydeen. The last two issues have all three pilots sharing Combatra's controls. This is a little disappointing, but the story is otherwise coming to a very satisfying conclusion.
I also enjoy some dialogue where Savage calls out the aliens on their motives. They claim they must strip us of advanced tech because we're too primitive to travel into space without endangering the rest of the galaxy. But its the aliens who are showing a complete indifference to innocent lives. That's actually setting up an important plot point for the next few issues.
|Cover dated August 1980|
The pilots realize they need some help and decide to start by contacting the Fantastic Four. The aliens, who are monitoring all this, are fine with it. Reed Richards, along with all the rest of Earth's super-smartypants guys, is on their hit list. So Primal One--the alien leader--figures this is simply getting all their eggs in one basket.
But there is trouble afoot for Primal One among his allies. We learn he's part of a galactic federation in which various races are sworn to help one another. He's calling on an alien named Captain Cymell to use her really, really, really big robot (named Gigantauron) to help destroy the Shoguns and the FF. She's reluctant to do so, having second thoughts about Primal One's mission. But she's sworn to help, so soon Gigantauron is threatening to literally stomp down a big section of Manhattan.
Reed volunteers the FF to help man Combatra's various components, though I'm not sure he uses his resources in the most effective way. He and Sue will act as pilots, while Ben (who is one of the world's most skilled pilots) is left in the Baxter Building to handle traffic control. Smartest man in the Marvel universe, my eye.
Still, it works out okay. Unable to hurt Gigantauron from the outside, the Torch carves a hole big enough for Genji to get inside. She finds and messes with the robots gyroscope, causing it to fall down and go boom.
|Cover dated September 1980|
That brings us to the final issue. Cymell uses a tractor beam to recover her robot, but that allows the good guys to follow in Combatra and find her big mother ship. Ironically, she had pretty much decided to quit and leave, no longer able to morally follow Primal One's genocidal lead. But now she feels she has to defend herself.
Combatra finds a way into the alien ship through a disposal chute. Kind of reminds you of the Death Star's thermal exhaust port, doesn't it? Alien ship designers really need to take a safety class on that sort of thing.
The FF fight Cymell's ground troops while Combatra whacks aside some flying robot craft. Eventually, they find Primal One, who appears to be an energy being. It's a chance for Combatra to destroy him, but Genji can't force herself to pull the trigger on a living being. This is the final straw for Cymell, convincing her she's fighting for the wrong side.
So, with his final defeat, Shogun Warriors comes to an end. It was a fun book. Doug Moench gave us several interconnected epic-level story arcs that were well-written and followed the logic of a comic book universe very neatly.
I've early mentioned that Herb Trimpe seemed to be channeling his inner eight-year-old when he designed the various monsters & robots that the Shoguns fight. A giant hand whose fingers detach into separate weaponized vehicles? How cool is that? When an artist uses his sophisticated skills as an adult to channel the imagination of his inner child, it can't help but be cool.
But what will happen to the Shoguns now that their own book is being cancelled? Doug Moench will get a chance to give them a send-off in another book a few months later. We'll take a look at that next week.