Okay, seriously.  It’s been 40 years, can somebody tell me what the heck “alien galaxies beyond space” means, exactly?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Battle Of The Planets #1 awaits!

battleoftheplanets1coverBATTLE OF THE PLANETS #1
Writer: Munier Sharrieff
Penciler: Wilson Tortosa
Colorist: Shane Law
Letterer: Dennis Heisler/Robin Spehar
Editor: David Wohl
Publisher: Top Cow/Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00

Previously in Battle Of The Planets:  G-Force!  Princess!  Tiny!  Keyop!  Mark!  Jason!  And watching over them from Center Neptune, their computerized coordinator, 7-Zark-7!  Watching, warning against surprise attacks by alien galaxies beyond space…  G-Force!  Fearless young orphans, protecting Earth’s entire galaxy!  Always five, acting as one!  Dedicated!  Inseparable!  Invincible!”


Our story opens with a series of disasters, as a mysterious person in a pointed mask receives updates pertaining to their undefined plan, followed by a jetliner encountering a massive, mysterious vessel in the skies over the Himalayas.  At the same time, in a secret military facility, another secret weapon is being tested…


That, my friends, is an impressive splash page, showing all five of our heroes in rare-form, really impressive stuff.  (I will say this: Don’t get used to it for this issue.)  The suits and scientists are impressed by the ability of five teenagers to rip through Center Neptune’s most powerful mecha weaponry, and this would be a successful dry run by any measure, were it not for the scowl on the face of one General Tomak…


One might think that Director Anderson would be devastated by the setback, but he seems to take it all in stride, returning to his office with a thoughtful expression on his face, when out of the shadows comes a voice…


When I initially read this comic, in the faraway land of 2002, this is the point where I realized that this is all happening in between the lines of Gatchaman/Battle Of The Planets episode one, “Attack of The Space Terrapin”, one of the most epic-yet-kinda-dumb titles in history, and an episode my preteen mind still recalled vividly.  I also admire the decision to keep the faux-70s fashions and haircuts intact, an art decision that gives the whole story a timeless retro-future appeal.  As the Space Terrapin attacks, General Tomak’s “traditional” military forces are powerless against its assault, falling in waves before warship’s might…


Tomak is even more angry when a communique arrives from Anderson, consisting of one blunt sentence: “You have no idea what you’re dealing with.”  While external forces converge to bring G-Force into play, the kids who comprise the team are dealing with their own issues.  Keyop, the youngest of the group, worries about his own competence…


The ironically named Tiny, the team’s pilot and most physically powerful member, ninjas his way past the guards to their vessel, The Phoenix, and proceeds to have a discussion with “her”…


The technology is also really well-served by Wilson Tortosa’s art, with The Pheonix looking especially impressive under his pencils.  Team leader Mark is sent to test a new plane-mounted camera, interrupting his busy work mission to check in on his impulsive lancer, Jason…


It’s a well-executed sequence, in many ways, with the major exception that Princess, the team’s fifth member exists only as sounding board for one of her male teammates.  Also, though the characterizations are shown effectively, they’re relatively shallow archetypes, a weakness that recurs within this series.  Still, it does a good job of streamlining the American and Japanese mythology of the team into one, as shown when Director Anderson manages to get an audience with one person who outranks the recalcitrant Tomak: President Frances Kane herself!


Apropos of nothing, Frances Kane is also the real name of Magenta, a former Teen Titan and recurring super-villain in DC Comics.  Anderson lays out his case: The threat they face is NOT some would-be world beater, but in fact another race of beings who have traveled to Earth to replenish the resources of their own depleted planet.  The only defense against such a threat, he insists are The Gatchaman, an elite cadre of soldier bred for just such an emergency…

But, we worry, will the President give him the go-ahead?


Five wrist-alarms say “Hell, yes, Faithful Spoilerites!  It’s pseudo-Sentai time!”  As the issue comes to a (sudden and rather poorly timed, in my estimation) close, we finally get our first look at the terrible menace that is The Space Terrapin…


…and that is effectively terrifying.  What’s most impressive about this debut is how well is hews to existing Gatchaman/G-Force history, but that selfsame fidelity becomes the series downfall.  Once they’re finished showing us all the fiddly bits and ninja stuff and hidden moments of awesome behind the scenes of the cartoons we remember, Top Cow doesn’t really have anything else up their sleeve.  As a debut issue, it’s got a lot going for it, but the big splash-page that serves up ninja vs. mecha action ends up being the only appearance of transmuted G-Force in the issue, which dulls the shine of a big action-filled Gatchaman comic for me.  All in all, though, Battle Of The Planets #1 serves as a good introduction/review of the world of G-Force, and while it ends in a weird and awkward place, it’s a solid first issue, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  (To be fair, it reads really well in collected form, a purchase I recommend for fans of the cartoon…)



An in-depth look at a story familiar to kids of A Certain Age. Some interesting stuff here, but the shadows of unnecessary grimdark sneaking in about the corners...

User Rating: 3.7 ( 1 votes)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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