I got my first Starriors comic a decade or so ago. It was issue No. 4 of a four-issue Marvel Comics limited series. In those years, I’ve tried to read it a few times, and mostly puzzled over its contents. I only recognized one character, a robot tyrannasaur named Deadeye, that was owned by my best friend in grade school. It was a neat remote control beast that you could load its head full of plastic discs and remotely aim and fire. It was great fun to harass cats with, and he matched up pretty well against Transformers.
The rest of the robots in the Starriors comic were just that — a bunch of robots. The story was too far along to even begin to comprehend, so I just filled it away in my ‘S’ box for future study.
A few weeks ago, I hit the jackpot! There in the discount bargain bin was the whole Starriors limited series. I snatched up issues No. 1, 2 and 3, leaving the comic shop’s issue No. 4 orphaned. Yes, it was a descpicable act, but at long last, I could finally understand the saga of the Starriors.
The Starriors comic spins the tale of a society of robots, long abandoned by their creators. It is a society of slaves and masters, where the violent rule with an iron hand, and the meek pray they escape the attention of their rulers.
But then, through machinations not really worth repeating here, the robots realize that man may still be alive, and the two primary robot groups go to war. The Protectors, who were once slaves, want to seek out their creators. The Destructors, who’ve been dominating the other robot races, want to stop the Protectors and maintain the status quo.
What follows is a back-and-forth battle between the two groups, with members switching sides and soldiers dying and being reborn.
To help match the toyline the characters are based after, few of the soldiers really die. Instead, they’re reborn again and again with the help of a MacGuffin Device. This lets the comic provide the “play script” for any kids as they re-enact the Starriors conflict in their back yards and show them that it’s OK to take their robots apart and reassemble them differently.
Written by Louise Simonson, the comic is hard to follow for the most part. All the characters on each side of the battle are colored identically, so you can’t tell them apart, even with the character guide in the first issue.
Michael Chen handles the art chores, and for the most part, he draws some pretty cool robots, even if they’ve got strange chest-mounted weapon arrays that make them look like the Terminator version of Dolly Parton. Some have chest mounted drills. Others have gozangas that are buzz saws or phallic laser cannons.
The pec-mounted weapons aren’t even strangest thing about the whole series, either. No, the strangest stuff is when the Starriors talk about “loving” each other. And, no ,we’re not talking about “I love you, man! You’re awesome.” Instead, they’re really talking about romantic love. Robot love? Ooookay.
I was also surprised by the end of the series. All along, I was assuming these were giant robots, but in the final issue, they find humanity. When they unlock them from hibernation, the fleshbags are just as tall as the gearboxes.
My presumption was confirmed too. When you look through the Starriors fan site you can see how the figures were designed to hold little men inside their robot heads.
If I was writing the book, I would have made the Starriors giant-sized, and explain the whole “love thang” as that the Starriors were getting the emotions radioed to them from their hibernating drivers.
Yeah, that’s kinda dumb, but’s no where near as dumb as vacuum-cleaners pining for their lost loves.