Friday, March 20, 2015

Review- SilverHawks #1-7

SilverHawks #1-7 (Star Comics/ Marvel, cover dates August, 1987- August, 1988)

Writer: Steve Perry
Artists: Mike Witherby (Pencils, #1-5, 7) and Howard Bender (Penciler, #6)
James Sanders III (Inker, #1), Fred Fredericks (Inker, #2-7)

The 1980s were a great time for cartoons. We had G.I. Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, and then Silverhawks. I was a closet fan of this series when it came out in the fall of 1986, since I was 13 when it debuted and I was supposed to be too cool to watch cartoons (or read comic books, for that matter). You see kids, back in the olden days of the '80s it was not cool to be a geek. At all. The term fanboy was an insult made to fans by industry pros, not a term of endearment. I hid my love of this stuff far away from the world at large, as did most other comic fans. The freedom to be a nerd that you now enjoy was earned by our sacrifice. You're welcome.

This Rankin/Bass cartoon was essentially a retread of Thundercats, only set in space. I knew that it was derivative as a kid, I just didn't realize exactly how derivative. There are so many bits and pieces borrowed from so many places that it almost feels fresh. These cartoons were essentially commercials for toys, and while I had a few Thundercats I never owned any Silverhawks. I bought these comics day of release, and I recently bought them again since I dumped my originals along with most of my collection when my Mom died in 1995 and I needed cash. I have been waiting years for a relaunch and a corresponding collected edition of this material, but if we couldn't get reprints of the vastly superior Thundercats when they relaunched it years ago then I seriously doubt that these will ever be reprinted, hence my late-night online purchase of these comics. 

The entire series was written by television series screenwriter Stephen Perry, who was shockingly murdered in 2010. This concept works as a comic because Perry was also a comic writer. Come to think of it, maybe the reason that I enjoyed the cartoon so much is because it felt like a comic book. Mike Witherby's artwork is solid and works incredibly well. The then-revolutionary but now outdated Flexograph printing process is a mess. Marvel was experimenting with water-based inks using plastic plates, which yielded more colors and lower costs. It looked quite garish to my eyes as a lad, what with the bright white paper instead of the cream colored pulp paper that I was accustomed to. The printing was often worse than the old method, with reds being too bright and blacks looking weak. I often dropped series which switched to that at the time, such was my disdain for the look of material printed this way.

I will briefly touch upon what worked and what didn't for this series as a comic book. The Silverhawks are all one-dimensional, with none of them really seeming to be more important than any of the others. There was no “Lion-O” here. The villains were more memorable than the heroes. While Mon*Star was a Mumm-Ra retread, right on down to the transformation sequence (and the same voice in the cartoon!), Poker-Face and Mo-Lec-U-Lar were fresh and interesting. The comics were as fun as the series. I pronounce dollar as Dolare to this day because of this series.

The stories are all done in ones with no real continuity, par for the course for Marvel's ill-fated all-ages Star Comics line. This title was bi-monthly, which also made it difficult to cement a readership. Couple that with the fact that the animated series was in perpetual rereuns months after the series launched and you get what you have here, a series lasting seven issue. Marvel switched the series from a Star Comic to a mainline Marvel Comic with issue 6 when they folded the Star line in 1988.

This series and these characters are little more than footnotes in the grand scheme of things. It's a fun, solid concept that I found to be immensely enjoyable on the reread more than a quarter century later. I toyed with the idea of buying the DVDs, but let's face facts. I have shelves of things that I never watch now, and I do not need more things to collect dust. I would totally watch it if it popped up on TV, though.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

There is no OCD zone for floppies.

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