Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Classics - Strikeforce Morituri #1

Comic book companies are always looking for a different take on the traditional super hero tale - and on rare occasion, they succeed.

For example: from 1986, Strikeforce Morituri.

It was a real departure for Marvel Comics - an adventure set in an alternate (which is to say, non-Marvel) future, one where an alien invasion has devastated the planet and left mankind desperate for a way to fight back.

The solution is to develop a scientific method for creating real-life superheroes - the Morituri Process - but there's a deadly cost involved.

Everyone who goes through the process gains great powers - but only for a year. After a year, each hero dies.

It was (and is) a shocking and unexpected take on super-heroes, and made for a a great, hard-hitting series of stories. The comic was written by Peter B. Gillis, and it was one of his better efforts (and that's saying something).

The art was by Brent Anderson (pencils) and Scott Williams (inks), with three "comic book" pages by Wilce Portacio. It was impressive work (especially considering the limitations of the printing process at the time) - early in his career, Anderson was already showing his strengths - powerful layouts, clear storytelling, creative character designs and distinctive features.

This was a series that was grounded in science fiction, but with plenty of leeway for larger-than-life superhero action, and an infinite variety of characters and powers. And it didn't shy away from its deadly premise - a number of heroes lost their lives - either because of the process or through heroic sacrifice.

The series lasted a respectable 31 issues (plus a five-issue mini-series) and wrapped up the storyline (more or less) during the run.

By the mid-'80s, comics were growing up - and this series helped lead the way.

With outstanding art and story, it's well worth the trouble of tracking down.

Grade: A


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