So this begins my next big run of comics, and I acquired it very similar to how I acquired all of those Badger comics that I recently finished muddling through.
I had an issue of Starslayer: The Log of the Jolly Roger (for brevity’s sake, I’m going to simply call it Starslayer in my reviews) in a comic collection someone had given to me a number of years ago. I even covered it for the “Fighting the Independents” series of posts that I did a while back. The book was intriguing. It had a solid creative writer at the time in John Ostrander, and it was created by Mike Grell, whose work I’ve always enjoyed. So, when my LCS was having a huge sale of “last chance” books that were priced at Professor Alan levels, I found most of the run. In fact, I am only missing five issues–the first four issues from the Pacific Comics series and issue #10 of the First Comics series. I’m sure that most of them are ones I can find in cheap bins, although from what I understand, issue #2 has a backup featuring The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens and that goes for a lot, so I might have to get creative if I want to read the entire story.
Speaking of the story, this is one of space pirates. Flat-out, that’s what is going on here. There’s more to it, and I will definitely be able to explain what that “more to it” is when I review the next two issues, but if someone were to ask me what this is about, those two words would be a good enough explanation.
These two issues were the final two of the miniseries that was published by Pacific Comics in 1981 before Grell brought the series over to First two years later. I’m obviously coming into the story’s third act, so I don’t have an idea of who the main character is or anything about his origin, but I wanted to be able to pick up as much as I could from simply reading a comic, so I did no research. You know, the whole feeling of seeing this on a shelf in a comic store and then taking it home? Me and my comics reading purity.
Anyway, our main character is Torin and at this point, he is piloting a space vessel named the Jolly Roger (it’s right there in the title) alongside a scantily clad woman named Tamara (is a Mike Grell comic, after all). As we open issue #5, they are on the icy surface of what I think is one of Jupiter’s moons looking for a piece of an Amulet that when completely assembled and activated will help prevent the sun from going completely supernova and destroying the solar system. Further complicating things is that this amulet must be activated at the exact moment of planetary alignment and doing so will sacrifice the Earth for the sake of the solar system.
Finding the pieces of the amulet has been hard enough. The fact that the Earth’s ruling council–think the guys in the Death Star’s conference room–wants to stop them makes it worse. It’s not too much of a spoiler, by the way, to tell you that they succeed in what they set out to do, especially since I’ll be reviewing the next two issues in a few days, so I’ll tell you that after getting captured and betrayed by a fellow prisoner, Torin and Tamara successfully complete their mission. And while I came in very late to the story, I found myself automatically engaged as I went through these two issues, even if it was a little bit of work to put the pieces together (no pun intended).
Grell writing and doing the layouts of the artwork doesn’t hurt, to be honest. I’ve always enjoyed anything I’ve read of his, so I was looking forward to it going in. He delivers, too, meshing action and story in a way that I can see how they relate to one another. Whatever world building/explanation that he needs to do for his audience is handled deftly and without getting in the way of the story, and the action is not gratuitous. Yes, Grell is doing a riff on Star Wars, but I can excuse that considering that there were a thousand pieces of pop culture doing a riff on Star Wars in 1981, and it’s also a great comic.
Like I said, I have almost the entire run from here on out (except for one issue), so I am looking to see where the series goes from here. And since I enjoyed this so much, I’m going to hold off my judgment on it until I’ve reached the end of my run.