Friday, July 19, 2013

Star Raiders

'Star Raiders' by Maggin and Lopez
DC Graphic Novel No. 1, 1983

Throughout the early 80s, DC comics looked on with some degree of envy as Marvel exploited the popularity of Heavy Metal magazine by releasing first (in 1980) Epic Illustrated magazine, and then (in 1982) the Epic line of color comic books.

DC decided to get into the game in 1983 by publishing a series of Graphic Novels, priced at $5.95 and consisting of 48 pages. 

Rather than dealing with established characters and franchises in the manner of the Marvel graphic novels of the same era, the DC novels were based on original narratives, leaning heavily towards sf and fantasy content.

For its very first Graphic Novel, DC decided to release ‘Star Raiders’, based on the 1979 video game for the Atari 400 / 800 computer console. []Additional versions of the game were released in the 80s, and the most recent release, for the Xbox, PS3, and PCs, came out in May, 2011.]

 Written by Elliot S (!) Mangin (the presence of the exclamation point apparently is an artsy affectation) and illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, ‘Star Raiders’ didn’t have much more than pixels from the video game with which to develop content. Accordingly, the book borrows quite heavily from Star Wars

It also has a juvenile character to it, featuring plenty of cute aliens; a pretty, New Wave-ish space chick with an eyepatch and a scarlet headband (early 80s sci-fi fashion ‘musts’); and a reserved approach to showing blood and gore. These are indications that DC was having some doubts about how far they wanted to go in emulating the ‘adult’ themes of the Epic and Heavy Metal franchises. 


Despite its rather trite plotting, ‘Star Raiders’ certainly has well-done, if underexposed artwork by Lopez, and if it can be found for just a couple of bucks (like my copy was) it might be worth picking up.

1 comment:

revelshade said...

Maggin's editor at DC, the late great Julius Schwartz, is responsible for the exclamation point after Maggin's middle initial. It was originally a one-time typo on a script but Schwartz liked it and ordered that all Maggin's DC work be credited that way. It is often assumed that the S! refers in some way to Superman, the character Maggin is most associated with.