Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review - Star Slammers Remastered #1

"I also saw that I was right about the Slammers. There were less than fifty of 'em. A lot less."

Walt Simonson is a legend in the comic book industry, providing a very heady mix of writing and art in all of the comics he worked on. The height of his talent was on display decades ago, so it's nice when publishers such as IDW come along and remaster old classics such as Star Slammers Remastered #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Simonson, colored by Len O'Grady and lettered by John Workman.

Star Slammers was Simonson's last project at the Rhode Island School of Design and revolves around a planet full of the galaxy's toughest mercenaries. He took the characters to Marvel Comics where they hit print as a graphic novel in 1983, until Star Slammers Remastered #1 when IDW dusted everything off and remastered it. Once upon a time, there was a race of men who could out-shoot, out-fight and out-kill anybody. They were paid fabulous sums to act as mercenaries. The practice became so lucrative, they decided to go into business. They became the most successful businessmen in history, and they called themselves...The Star Slammers.

It's not exactly right to say whether or not Simonson is at the top of his game or anything like that; in fact, he's a legend and pretty much always does a phenomenal job. Star Slammers Remastered #1 has the 80s sensibility about it that evokes a different time in comics, when a good chunk of the stories were very cosmic. The Star Slammers themselves are brash and effective, using their hubris for both strength and intimidation. Simonson's dialogue is fairly shallow on the surface, but there's very intricate politics woven in the characters' lines. There's a war brewing and Simonson uses that as the undercurrent for the Star Slammers to make their own moves, most of which involve claiming the spoils of war.

Simonson also handles the art duties and the characters look larger than life in a way. Sure, they're human in appearance, but there's something to them that makes them feel distinctly galactic. The characters are set against stark white backgrounds, which is something that Simonson uses to great effect in emphasizing the action illustrated on the pages. The panels are traditionally shaped, but there are some pages where Simonson really crams in the tall, slender rectangles with great impact on the reader. Everything is illustrated very cleanly and evokes a different era of comics, one that seems almost forgotten at this point.

Star Slammers Remastered #1 is a reminder that comics were different once. They didn't rely on an avalanche of variant covers to sell; rather, they relied on a compelling story and equally competent art. IDW does a great job restoring the classic, as the art looks extremely vibrant and it's apparent a lot of care went into remastering it, providing a fresh look at the work. Simonson's ability to capture a story effectively is still on display in top-form and presents a classic tale with some new twists. Star Slammers Remastered #1 is definitely a throwback book, but it's still one that's a joy to read and wax nostalgic about.

Star Slammers #1 is in stores March 26 with interiors below.


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