Reviewby Josh Lipowsky, Jun 20th 2003
Voltron: Defender of the Universe
Hidden in the depths of the planet Arus are five giant mechanical lions. Together, with the aid of magics long forgotten, they form Voltron: Defender of the Universe, an immensely powerful robot that will give the people of Arus the means necessary to restore their war-torn galaxy to peace. At the helm of the lions: five courageous pilots who have sworn themselves to protect this alien world, and the princess who commands it.
It has been 19 years since Voltron first hit American televisions. After an extended American second season to the original 52 anime episodes and two seasons of a computer generated series in the 90's, Voltron is once again making a comeback, this time in comic form.
Issues 0 and 1 of Voltron hit stores in May, after months of negotiations with World Events Productions over who would land the coveted license. In the end, Devil's Due Studios won out.
Issue 0 was produced in conjunction with Dreamwave and written by Dan Jolley, with pencils by Mark Brooks, inks by Clayton Brown and colors by Danimation. The story begins with Colonel Hawkings (the same Hawkings who commanded the vehicle Voltron force) and a Garrison lieutenant rounding up a ragtag team of pilots to go on an covert mission to a far off planet.
Issue 1 and each issue after that will be done solely by Devil's Due. The first issue was also written by Dan Jolley and featured pencils by Mike Norton and Clint Hilinski, inks by Clayton Brown and colors by Brett Smith. Issue 1 also features four different covers, one with a holofoil logo. This issue shows our heroes meeting for the first time and traveling to planet Arus where they meet Princess Allura and Coran. It also introduces us briefly to King Zarkon and his witch Haggar.
The comics are taking creative license in some aspects of the story, which are not altogether unwelcome. The original series did not explore the personal histories of the Voltron force and the books have set each of them up not only with their own – mostly troubled – pasts, but also with last names. In a nice gesture to its anime origins, Keith's full name is now Keith Akira Kogane, a reference to his character's original anime name.
Not all the characters instantly click together when they first meet, which adds in some drama about how this group will get along. They're not the super-idealistic white knights of the original show. These characters have their own personal flaws and that will help the audience identify with them.
Within the first few pages of issue 1 we also learn a little about the origin of Voltron, a topic that remained fuzzy in the TV series. There is a redesign of Voltron before he was split into five parts that shows him as a robot gladiator of sorts. While it is a deviation from what was established on TV, the artwork is done so well that it is hard to complain about it.
The character designs have also undergone updates. While they retain a basic resemblance to their original anime counterparts, they have been retooled for a new century. Some diehard fans may take time getting used to it, but from the first two issues it is apparent that the personalities that made the original characters are still there. Those personalities come out more in issue 1 than in 0 but are definitely recognizable and provide for some good dialogue.
Check out our interview with the writer of this series, Dan Jolley for more insight into this recent release.
Overall : A-
+ Nice setup for where the five space explorers came from and great art, snappy dialogue