The Slayer Of Stars!


Mike Grell's Starslayer is an important comic book series. When the Independent market developed, it needed talent and one of the first big names to cross over into this wild new frontier was Grell. He'd made a name for himself at DC on the Legion of Super-Heroes (where he'd replaced Dave Cockrum) and on Green Lantern and Green Arrow (where he'd followed Neal Adams, albeit after a many years hiatus). So he'd been trusted with big titles and had proven a solid talent. Now I have to confess that Grell in these years was not my favorite, his stiffness when dealing with anatomy weakened his efforts for me considerably, but there was no denying his skill at splendid finishes. 


Starslayer had a six-issue run with Pacific Comics alongside the pioneering Captain Victory by Jack Kirby. And it was in the back pages of Starslayer thatn Dave Stevens introduced the world to The Rocketeer. After the initial storyline though Grell took the project to First Comics where others worked on it with him overseeing the efforts while he focused on Jon Sable Freelance. And it was about this time, or little later that I left behind the Indy books to keep money and effort aside for a new family. I traded most of my Indy books away at some point, but the first two issues of Starslayer did not go because of The Rocketeer's appearance. (More on The Rocketeer tomorrow by the way.)


And before you knew it the 80's gave way to the 90's and Image and Valiant joined the comic book fray. I was hard into Valiant, but generally stayed away from their Windjammer brand which took material outside the exquisitely developed Valiant universe and offered it up to the folks at home.


One project was Mike Grell cracking out Starslayer again and revising   to suit his new attitudes, giving us a "Director's Cut".  Never read it, but recently I hankered to read Starslayer again and there was this collection which put the "Director's Cut" issues together. Despite warnings about printing woes I  chanced it and found the return to the Starslayer universe uneven.


The finisher on these pages are developed by some other artists, presumably under Grell's direction and the new pages don't really blend all that well with the original stuff and don't add at all to the fundamentals of the story.


Since I suspect few came to this without some prior knowledge of the character, the fact is the new material actually undermines some of the best moments such as the reveal at the end of the debut issue. We think we are following a Celtic warrior as he fights for his family and his tribe but in the last few moments we are jumped forward into a science fiction future with space ships and robots and all sorts of stuff. It was a  nifty twist all those many years ago and this telling makes that less effective by quite a bit.


The story of Starslayer is a pretty good one, a warrior catapulted into the future when Earth has colonies across the solar system, but a dark future since the Sun has turned into a red giant and consumed Mercury and devastated Venus. We meet humans of all kinds bred to be in tough environments but bringing customs from a recognizable human history.


Torin McQuillon the Starslayer and the woman who brought him into the future Tamra fight together aboard the Jolly Roger, a sleek and fast spaceship. Torin can function in this brave new world because of SAM, a robot that translates and does other things to make him suitable for this new environment. There are too many Bogie jokes for my tastes, but that seemed to be a theme Grell really wanted to fasten down.


The maguffins in this story are amulets given to each of the colonies which Tamra needs to help save Earth, or at least that's what we're led to believe. There are a few twists and turns, but that's fine by me. It's been long enough since I've read this that I was enjoying it quite well, that is when the artwork let me.


I cannot really recommend this collection because of the printing problems, but if the story seems appealing it might be an option, certainly a convenient one.

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