Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Saga of The Power Lords!

(The Comic Book Database)

Today, we're taking a trip back to X-mas of 1983, when DC launched a toy tie-in mini-series to help promote one of the odder action figure lines of the decade.

(Power Lords Return)

Revell, of course, was the company putting out licensed plastic model kits for Return of the Jedi and He-Man. It makes sense that the company would be interested in making action figures, instead of just settling for the smaller hobby market. The weird part is that Wayne Barlow was tapped to design the new product line. The geekier of my readers will recognize him as the creator of the 1979 Guide to Extraterrestrials.


I remember checking this book out of the library numerous times. I'm not sure I really liked the artwork at the time, but like all kids, was fascinated by all the stats and info on the various races. I definitely wasn't impressed by the toys, passing them over at the time for Star Wars figures, which even today seem much more stylish and toned down.

Hey, there's a girl in this comic book!

DC entrusted the story chores to Michael Fleisher and Mark Texeira, who would go on to create Jonah Hex's time-displaced story line later on in the decade. Texeira had been drawing the mini-comics that were included with the Masters of the Universe line. Fleisher came up through DC by writing lots of weird/mystery anthology titles, and was writing the Conan books for Marvel.

widescreen, before widescreen was cool

The book has a great action opening, with Shaya (Queen of Power!) in a multi-page fire fight in space. This issue in general gives a lot of the action and narration to Shaya, which is fairly unusual for a boys' toy line. Even Princess Leia wasn't given this much to do in the Star Wars movies.

Many of us felt this way about Return of the Jedi

Much like the original opening of Star Wars (and as remained in the novelization), The fight is being observed by our innocent hero, who can't really make out what it is. Adam is an amnesiac astronomer's assistant who annoys his co-worker with constant speculation about alien life. And he has PTSD.

Mark Texeria's interesting time-stretching technique

Anyway, Shaya crash-lands in front of Adam's observatory, because fate.  Weird alien things (well, weirder than she is) are still in pursuit, so she easily convinces Adam to jump in the ship and RUN AWAAAAYYYY.

....a bird?

Mark Texeira never misses a beat in all these pages. He knows when to alternate page-wide panels with vertical ones to signal a change in action, and is a master of slowing down "time" with sort of "stop-motion" panels.  This definitely feels less dense than the first issue of the Transformers series, even with all the information dumping we're about to get.

Ah, Utopia

Not to slight Michael Fleisher's script. Saving the back story for a break in the action gives us a chance to absorb the characters before dealing with all this ancient tragedy, for Eden will fall, as usual. Again, very different from The Transformers, where we are given all the backstory before the action really starts.

Probably not surgical bombing

And this is a fairly dark story. Luke never had to watch his beloved Aunt and Uncle get blasted by Stormtroopers. Battlestar Galactica's Apollo lost family members left and right during offscreen battles. But Adam is traumatized by watching his PARENTS get murdered in front of him, right before he is teleported away.

AIIEEEEE, indeed.

All this info-dumping is enough to snap Adam out of his amnesia, and he quickly turns into his blue, vein-ey self and kills a bunch of alien monsters. With that out of the way, our intrepid couple decide to fly to the secret weapon/action figure playset.

That's no moon...

They then spend a page looking at the amazing molded-plastic and sticker based technology before Adam zaps it all to life. Yes, Adam's only purpose in life is to be the on-switch for the Death Star.

Now to get on with some killing!

Unfortunately, everyone in the universe knows where the secret weapon base is (they've probably all read the toy catalog). So, all the bad guys jump out and say "boo."

It's a frap!

Sadly, these last few pages seem a bit cramped and rushed, making me wonder if this was meant to be a larger one-shot, rather than a limited series. Still, we have a decent cliff-hanger, and I actually want to read the next two issues now.  I still think the toys are a bit weird and creepy, though.

Not like those adorable Monchichis, er....

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