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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Star Raiders (Science Fiction) (Graphic Novel)

by Elliot S! Maggin (writer) & Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (illustrator)

Publisher: DC Comics (1983)

Softcover, 64 pages


This is an odd little item, put out by D.C. Comics back in the 1980s when the most impressive arcade games were Defender, Joust, Donkey Kong, and Dragon’s Lair (Okay Dragon’s Lair is still pretty impressive looking). Comics, despite an obviously growing older audience, were still primarily aimed at prepubescent and adolescent kids. In 1983, the hottest consul company around, Atari, teamed up with D.C. to create Atari Force. This began with a series of mini-comics put into the game boxes of Defender, Berzerk, Star Raiders, Phoenix, and Galaxian. Atari Force then expanded into a regular series in 1983, lasting about 20 issues. Which, for those who know about the average lifespan of tie-in comics series (to a toy or game line), is somewhat respectable. Most tie-ins last six issues at most, while the two outstanding ones are G. I. Joe and Transformers, both lasting over 150.

The game Star Raiders came out in 1979, with various iterations on different consoles, and was perhaps the first space combat simulation game, using a first person perspective to maneuver and fire, as if you were in the cockpit. It was the grandfather of Wing Commander, Elite, Star Fox, and so on, and so on.

Strange as this may sound, Star Raiders the graphic novel (#1 in a series of D. C. graphic novels, back when the format was still wet behind the ears) is a spinoff of Atari Force, taking place some several hundred years after the events of the comic. Here the galaxy is dominated by an insectoid race, called the Zylons, and a group of well-worn heroes attempts to take the battle back to their home base. Essentially, this is the plot of game as well.

It is an action packed violence-filled story with one-dimensional characters shooting at things. Don’t expect any character growth or anything. I’m sure my 8 year old self in 1983 would’ve loved it. What stands out is the amazing art, painted with incredible detail and skill. The art is in fact way better than the material it supports. I found it for $3.00. It was well worth the price.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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