ALL AMERICAN SUPER ROBOTS part 2
Last week we looked at Marvel Comics and their Shogun Warriors comic, which was based on the awesome Mattel line of imported Japanese toys based on awesome Japanese super robot animated TV shows that we were not lucky enough to see on televison unless we lived in Hawaii. Or Japan. Anyway, this week we're gonna look at rival DC's attempt to break into the lucrative super robot toy tie-in comic market.
When the 80s were in full flower Hasbro brought forth Transformers, and lots of kids thought it was good, what with the cars that turned into robots and all. Model kit giant Revell wanted a piece of that action, and turned to, yes, Japan, where super robots had long been immortalized in kit form. Revell licensed kits from several different series, among them FANG OF THE SUN DOUGRAM and SUPER DIMENSION CENTURY ORGUSS (Japanese SF robot shows all have long, convoluted names) and released them in the States repackaged as "Robotech". YES we know "Robotech" was a TV show starring Lynn Minmay and Rick Hunter and Breetai -that was LATER. Anyway, DC thought that what they ought to do is publish a really terrible looking comic book starring some of the least visually interesting giant robots ever designed. And so they did. Was it a success?
Well, as we can see by this pathetic editor's note, their wimpy little three-issue mini series got cut to two issues in no time flat. Now that's what I call a vote of no confidence.
It's easy to see why ROBOTECH DEFENDERS is the comic nobody loved. First off you've got your hideous Flex-O-Graphic printing, which is a method whereby the normal cheap comic book printing is made even cheaper. Here we see our exciting, clumsily drawn robots zoom to the attack against the evil alien Grelons.
Our heroes are a rag-tag band of freedom fighters from all kinds of strange planets; there's a green girl, a couple of hairy guys, and a bird-man, led by Regular Guy and Blonde Girl. I think Blonde Girl got the Murphy Anderson inks.
The trick here is the the super robot machines are actually sentient beings from the planet Technor. Because this comic just didn't have enough expository dialog, dammit!
Wow, you thought the villians were the evil Grelons, but the true menace is actually the evil S'Landrai! They wear robes, and their evil plan is to suck the energy from defenseless planets. Only it sounds a lot more impressive when you intone "Let us begin... THE SIPHONING!!"
The one weakness of high-tech super robots - rocks.
In this exciting panel one of the S'Landrai is demonstrating his amazing ability to face one direction and fire his gun in a completely different direction. Those aliens are tricky.
However, as we can see the evil sucking aliens are no match for the awesome technological wizardry of the Robotech Defenders. Who hit things with their fists.
And in case you're wondering what these robots would look like in comics drawn by the Japanese, here's a couple of pages of DOUGRAM manga for your edification. DC would never again attempt to horn in on the toy robot comic market, and instead would reap critical acclaim with their artsy Vertigo comics, one of which was drawn by Yoshitaka Amano, who early in his career at Tatsunoko worked on super robots Tekkaman and Casshan!! And thus the great cycle of life continues.
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