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Monday, September 14, 2020

Hey!! Kids Comics: Shogun Warriors 1 (1979)

Shogun Warriors, Vol. 1, No. 1


Cover date: Feburary 1979

Cover artists: Herb Trimpe & Al Milgrom

"Raydeen!"

Writer: Doug Moench
Penciller: Herb Trimpe
Inker: Dan Green
Colorist: Andy Yanchus
Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Allen Milgrom
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot: Introducing the Guardians of World Freedom - the Shogun Warriors. Massive giant robots, forged by the technology of the future, and piloted by the bravest heroes the world has ever known. Raydeen battles the colossal might of Rok-Korr!



We begin in the midst of a colossal battle happening in the outskirts of Tokyo between Giant Robot Raydeen and a cyborg creature called Rok-Korr.

Rok-Korr, who continually refers to himself in the third person, is a giant monster equipped with some armor and various weaponry. Rok-Korr has tentacle arms equipped with a blaster and claw. He can shoot spike missiles from his chest and has two spiked rollers for feet which can be ejected for ranged attacks.

We also find out that Raydeen is being controlled by three obviously inexperienced pilots, barely able to hold their own against the creature...

How did all this start? Flashback time! Rok-Korr was created by Lord Maur-Kon, the leader of the Followers of Darkness and unleashed on Tokyo. Why? For the lulz, because Maur-Kon is evil, thats why!

Dr. Tambura, leader of the Followers of the Light, abducted three individuals named Ilongo Savage, Genji Odashu and Richard Carson to pilot Raydeen. Richard, Genji and Ilongo are unhappy to have been stolen from their various pursuits, but are quickly convinced that they are needed to save the world. After a literal 20-minute crash course in giant robot piloting, they are now in the fight of their lives against Rok-Korr!

They finally get it together and using Raydeen's Breaker Blade, lop off Rok-Korr's head! But before they can celebrate their victory, some kind of lava oozes out of Rok-Korr's neck-hole, and reforms itself into an even more threatening form! Rok-Korr in his new form defeats Raydeen, vomiting a spew of lava which buries the robot!

Breaking free, the three pilots realize if they slowly retreat they can lure the monster further from the city. This allows them the time they need to regroup back at the Shogun Sanctuary, where two more giant robots are revealed to them -- Combatra and Dangard Ace. They are told that now instead of three pilots in one robot, they will each be piloting a giant robot alone!

The Shogun Warriors was a bit of an odd-ball comic at the time and to understand it, you must know the history of the Shogun Warriors themselves...

In the early 1970s, likely inspired by imported Dinky toys based on Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds, the Japanese toy company Popy produced a licensed figure of the anime character Mazinger Z. This was so successful that Popy followed up by licensing and producing a string of figures of super robots from other popular kids cartoons of the time. These various characters were released in three inch size, five inch size, and finally two-foot tall robots called Jumbo Machinders (made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a sturdy plastic also used for shampoo bottles!).

Enter American toy company Mattel, which came across them after importing and licensing a batch of Godzilla toys for a line released to the domestic market in late 1979... Mattel licensed all the super robot characters from Popy incorporating them into a single toyline called the Shogun Warriors. Promoting the figures, however, would prove a bit more difficult.

Licensing all the cartoon characters for the line was financially unfeasible and would involve buying the rights to numerous different series. See, each Warrior was the star of his own very own cartoon series in Japan (an unrelated anthology series of some of these shows would eventually appear in the eighties under the name Force Five, but by then the toyline was long gone). Instead Mattel turned to Marvel Comics, which was already licensing Godzilla - King of the Monsters.

Writer Doug Moench (creator of Moon Knight) and artist Herb Trimpe, who were already working on Godzilla, were tapped to do the new comic series. Media rights, however, were not part of Mattel's deal with Popy so Marvel was forced to arrange these rights separately. For this reason they limited themselves to just three of the Shogun Warriors -- Raydeen (from Brave Raideen), Combatra (taken from Tadao Nagahama's Chodenji Robo Combattler V), and Dangard Ace (of Leiji Matsumoto's Wakeusi Robo Danguard Ace). This explains why Great Mazinga, Dragun, and the others were never seen in the comics.

Moench then crafted an original backstory for the robots, allowing them to co-exist in the Marvel Universe (like most of the company's licensed output, including Toho's Godzilla, Mego's Micronauts figures, and Rom the Space Knight for Parker Brothers).

Initially very popular, the Shogun Warriors toyline would eventually come under intense pressure due to safety concerns regarding their spring loaded weapons features and for this reason, as well as decreasing sales, the Shogun Warriors toyline would be cancelled and gone by 1980. So go the toys, so goes the comic. The Shogun Warriors comic series would be cancelled after a run of only 20 issues.

Due to the complicated rights involved, the Shogun Warriors comic series is unlikely to ever be reprinted and a collected volume will probably never see the light of day.

Here is the whole comic for you to download and read as a CBR file, just follow the link on the left.

CBR files hold comic book pages as images in a compressed archive format enabling them to be viewed, sequentially, from within a comic book reader program or app such as CDisplayEx.


Please take a moment to share your thoughts on today's adventure with the Shogun Warriors. Did you ever own the toys? Did you collect the comics? Lets hear from you in the comments below.

4 comments:

  1. I loved Shogun Warriors. Very cool comics.

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    1. I had this comic as a kid and remember reading it over and over obsessing over the toys! I always wanted a jumbo Mazinga, but never got one.

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  2. Great post! Forgot they had a comic book run.

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    Replies
    1. I only got one other of the comics as a child... I always wanted to read the entire run and find out how the story went. I have access to them now, so keep and eye out as I will continue reviewing this series.

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