Current Reviews


Battle of the Planets #1 vs. Warrior Bugs #3

Posted: Sunday, July 14, 2002
By: Ray Tate

Battle of the Planets #1

Writer: Munier Sharrieff
Artists: Wilson Tortosa(p), Shane Law(c)
Publisher: Image

Warrior Bugs #3

Writers: Leng Veng, Jason Barr
Artists: Leng Veng(p), Jan M. Sutton(i) , Dwayne Harris(c)
Publisher: Art Coda

Like many kids, I was persuaded to give up religion in part
because of Grouper, Drooper and Fleagle. The Banana Splits
aired at the time mass began, and I would naturally fake illness to
stay home and watch the antics of these furry-suited men in between
Hanna-Barbera cartoons like Young Gulliver, the live action
Danger Island--"Uh-oh, Chongo!" and the combo of live actors
and animation The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Ah, but even at
that young age, I knew what repeats were. What to do? Rege Cordic's
Gamera/Star Man theater didn't start for hours. How could I possibly
avoid the excruciating boredom of church? Enter: Battle of the
--"G-Force, fearless young orphans protecting earth...." I
forget the rest I'm ashamed to admit.

I don't know why, but G-Force struck a cord. Maybe it was because
I was confusing them with Birdman or Hawkman. Maybe I simply hated to
go to church and hear how I was going to burn in hell for all
eternity if I didn't stay awake. Church offered pessimism. G-Force
offered violence and optimism against creepy, well-armed men who
wanted to, what else, rule the world. I saw every episode of
Battle of the Planets and the only fault I could ever find was
the Scabby-Doo element in the R2D2 clone and his robot dog.
Fortunately, his voice wasn't in the least bit annoying and made
him/it easier to accept. Battle of the Planets offered
animation I had never seen before. Everything was sleek and detailed.
The characters moved fluidly and rarely repetitiously. Even earlier
fare like Star Blazers paled by comparison. The stories behind
The Phoenix were also a little more complex than the average
super-hero fare.

So, now Battle of the Planets has entered the comic book
arena. I've chosen to compare and contrast it to Warrior Bugs
because both have essentially the same set-up. The books star
unusual teams with cool weapons and individual personalities who
while not exactly deep strongly differ. The villains as previously
mentioned want to rule the world, and both are ruthless in attaining
their goals. Both also have what I'd like to call a capitalist
resonance. The cast of Warrior Bugs could easily be made into
a series of toys. Battle of the Planets also could have been
found on toy shelves in their era; the strange thing is I never did
see a single toy based on this series.

Battle of the Planets cannot decide whether it is nostalgia
or cutting edge manga. I looked at the original untranslated manga
when it was first released, and while I cannot say if the team talked
about sex or sexual material, I am certain not one glimpse of flesh
could be found in the two thick approximately Video Watchdog
sized issues I had flicked through. This addition to Image's version
is seen in Jason's artistic vignette just before the team is
assembled to combat a big robot monster. In defense of the new
version, the flesh is discretely covered as if it were a
code-approved book by the blonde's hair. Okay, then. Battle of the
teases with sex when the original series didn't which
forces the reader to ask: why is this here?

In another scene, Princess mentions Keyop's "porn stash." Granted,
the original Gatchaman Force in the manga could have been talking
about their porn collection all the way through the book, and I'd
never know, but let's ask. How can this be nostalgic when never in
Battle of the Planets is the phrase "porn stash" uttered? How
can this be cutting-edge when both Princess and Keyop while in the
scene wear those same ugly bell bottom striped pants and the color
clashing tee-shirts with numbers?

Warrior Bugs on the other hand knows exactly what it wants
to be. It offers to interested readers essentially a colorful
Hanna-Barbera cartoon never made. Nothing salacious or seamy can be
found in Warrior Bugs. The book offers the reader instead a
simple feudal plot with a wide cast of characters. The heroes are
likable rather than snarky, and there's even some rockiness in the
team to keep things interesting.

Very little interests in the premiere of Battle of the
. Events start out promisingly with Zoltar having a glass
of wine or blood--who knows--as his plans for world domination go
along as scheduled, but then we get a cliché' Danger Room
sequence, typical inner circle bickering and G-Force killing time
until the brass decide to strike with them as the weapon. Here again,
is that ambivalence in tone. We have Zoltar trying to be
sophisticated in his terrorism, but G-Force are doing things any
comic book team may do--although, such inaction would usually occur
in the interim.

In Warrior Bugs, the Poison Society last issue setup a
delightfully sadistic water trap for our carapaced heroes. This
issue, they escape, have another battle against the Society and make
plot impacting discoveries. Mr. Veng has been showing that the
Bugs while brave and resourceful are seriously outclassed by their
opponents. They will not win unless they get help. Their help comes
in the form of a charming device used in various books of Warrior
ilk, yet the maturity of the writing, the way in which they
obtain their aid is inventive and fun.

The artwork in Battle of the Planets is flashy and to the
model of the series, but it's empty. Despite being a little rougher,
the artwork in Warrior Bugs is superior in purpose. The
artwork in Battle of the Planets serves to preserve the
nostalgia of the past. The artwork in Warrior Bugs seeks to
preserve a nostalgia that never was but also to reveal
characterization and keep the story moving.

I can predict what some Battle of the Planets fans will say
after "Let's kill him." This is only the first issue of the series.
How can I possibly expect magic from the first issue when it's trying
to establish the Gatchaman Force? Battle of the Planets has
the audacity to claim it relates G-Force's first battle against
Zoltar and his band of loonies with even sillier hats, yet nobody
asked for an origin-type of story. In the cartoon, the battle against
Zoltar occurred pres midi which means it had already started.
G-Force had already been established as earth's defense. So, have at
it. This attempt to turn back the clock only results in a zombie-like
effect. We're left waiting for G-Force to get off their buttocks and
start protecting the world. The best thing about the book is
Alex Ross' cover.

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