COMIC BOOK REVIEW: STAR SLAMMERS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION / AUTHOR: WALTER SIMONSON / ARTIST: WALTER SIMONSON / PUBLISHER: IDW / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 24TH
When Walt Simonson’s Star Slammers made its debut in the ‘70s, it was ground-breaking stuff. Even back in the early ‘80s, when Marvel released it as part of its graphic novel collection, it stood out due to its excellent art and its cinematic sci-fi violence. Alas, in the year 2015, its power to impress has long since faded. What was once incredible stuff is now our minimum expectation of science fiction comic books.
It doesn’t help that the core premise is very, very simple and rather dumb. The Star Slammers are a race of intergalactic mercenaries who can out-shoot, out-fight and out-think anybody. This race of superhuman killing machines are in high demand and are regarded as an immense threat to anyone who can’t afford them.
The story swaggers around like the hero of an ‘80s action movie. There’s isn’t a lot of complexity here, and the plot is paper thin. Star Slammers turn up, shout a bit and then violence happens. The first story (which gives us their origin story) is the better tale and has some attempt at depth. The second tale is longer, dumber and less coherent, but it does feature a ton of scantily-clad ladies (for very little discernible reason) and a female lead who seems to be made solely out of clichés.
As a demonstration of Simonson’s talent, it’s a very interesting showcase of one of the industry’s most enduring and endearing figures. As a piece of comics history, it’s a fascinating lesson in the evolution of both comics storytelling and how far we’ve come in terms of conveying action and depth. As an actual comic book, intended for an evening’s entertainment, it’s total trash. Very competently produced and pretty trash, but pulp nonsense none the less.
It is a very good thing that IDW have resurrected this book and made it more easily available; if you’re into comics history, or you’re an artist looking to examine the art style of a master of the industry, you’ll find this very useful. If you’re just after a fun bit of sci-fi, however, comic books have moved on since Star Slammers, and there is better stuff out there.
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