Battle of the Planets 1B NM Silvestri Cv Shurief Tortosa Russo Bros Movie Image


SKU: 14512 Category:


Battle of the Planets (2002 Image) #1B

Published Aug 2002 by Image
Marc Silvestri Cover
(W) Munier Shurief
(P) Alex Ross and Wilson Tortosa
(c) Shane Law and Udon Studios
Full color, 32 pages

Banded together to protect the earth, G-Force is a team of five highly trained teenagers who keep the world safe from all manner of evil threats! Using an array of advanced weapons and even-more-advanced vehicles, the team best known for their 1970’s cartoon series is set to be taken into the 21st Century by some of the top talents in comics!

The Wait is OVER! Sandy Frank Productions, Top Cow Productions and Alex Ross proudly Present G-Force, The Battle of the Planets. Yes it’s true. This July, the hottest book of 2002 takes off, written by Munier Sharief (Battle Chasers) and newcomer penciler extraordinaire Wilson Tortosa, with story layouts, art direction and COVERS by ALEX ROSS! Join Mark, Jason, Tiny, Keyop, and Princess on all their adventures to save the earth from the evil Zoltar and the forces of Spectra!

Our story opens with a series of disasters, as a mysterious person in a pointed mask receives updates pertaining to their undefined plan, followed by a jetliner encountering a massive, mysterious vessel in the skies over the Himalayas. At the same time, in a secret military facility, another secret weapon is being tested…

The suits and scientists are impressed by the ability of five teenagers to rip through Center Neptune’s most powerful mecha weaponry, and this would be a successful dry run by any measure, were it not for the scowl on the face of one General Tomak…

One might think that Director Anderson would be devastated by the setback, but he seems to take it all in stride, returning to his office with a thoughtful expression on his face, when out of the shadows comes a voice…

When I initially read this comic, in the faraway land of 2002, this is the point where I realized that this is all happening in between the lines of Gatchaman/Battle Of The Planets episode one, “Attack of The Space Terrapin”, one of the most epic-yet-kinda-dumb titles in history, and an episode my preteen mind still recalled vividly. I also admire the decision to keep the faux-70s fashions and haircuts intact, an art decision that gives the whole story a timeless retro-future appeal. As the Space Terrapin attacks, General Tomak’s “traditional” military forces are powerless against its assault, falling in waves before warship’s might…

Tomak is even more angry when a communique arrives from Anderson, consisting of one blunt sentence: “You have no idea what you’re dealing with.” While external forces converge to bring G-Force into play, the kids who comprise the team are dealing with their own issues. Keyop, the youngest of the group, worries about his own competence…

The ironically named Tiny, the team’s pilot and most physically powerful member, ninjas his way past the guards to their vessel, The Phoenix, and proceeds to have a discussion with “her”…

The technology is also really well-served by Wilson Tortosa’s art, with The Pheonix looking especially impressive under his pencils. Team leader Mark is sent to test a new plane-mounted camera, interrupting his busy work mission to check in on his impulsive lancer, Jason…

It’s a well-executed sequence, in many ways, with the major exception that Princess, the team’s fifth member exists only as sounding board for one of her male teammates. Also, though the characterizations are shown effectively, they’re relatively shallow archetypes, a weakness that recurs within this series. Still, it does a good job of streamlining the American and Japanese mythology of the team into one, as shown when Director Anderson manages to get an audience with one person who outranks the recalcitrant Tomak: President Frances Kane herself!

Anderson lays out his case: The threat they face is NOT some would-be world beater, but in fact another race of beings who have traveled to Earth to replenish the resources of their own depleted planet. The only defense against such a threat, he insists are The Gatchaman, an elite cadre of soldier bred for just such an emergency…

But, we worry, will the President give him the go-ahead?

Five wrist-alarms say “Hell, yes, Faithful Spoilerites! It’s pseudo-Sentai time!” As the issue comes to a close, we finally get our first look at the terrible menace that is The Space Terrapin…

…and that is effectively terrifying. What’s most impressive about this debut is how well is hews to existing Gatchaman/G-Force history. As a debut issue, it’s got a lot going for it. Battle Of The Planets #1 serves as a good introduction/review of the world of G-Force, and while it ends in a weird and awkward place, it’s a solid first issue.

Following the massive success of the early-2000s revivals of G. I. Joe, Transformers, ThunderCats and Masters of the Universe, it was clear a market existed for modern takes on beloved afternoon action-adventure properties. And while most of these revivals came from relative unknowns within the industry, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a big name attached to your project. And however much you might think superstar painter Alex Ross likes the imported anime Battle of the Planets, you need to multiply that number by five.

Top Cow’s entry in the not-quite-classic cartoon revivals for comics looked back a little further for inspiration, as Battle of the Planets aired original episodes in America from 1978 to 1980 (and continued in reruns until 1985), after debuting in Japan in 1972 as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, Gatchaman starred five young superhero ninjas who worked for the International Science Organization to fight the terrorist organization Galactor. The show leaned heavily into environmental themes, as the villains were attempting to control Earth’s endangered natural resources.

American TV producer Sandy Frank was convinced an audience for the series existed in America, following the release of Star Wars in 1977. It wasn’t the superhero element that convinced Frank of the property’s commercial value; Gatchaman’s robots, futuristic vehicles and sci-fi technology drew his eye. Frank’s reimagined title, Battle of the Planets, was itself a play on Star Wars. While most of the original Gatchaman episodes were earthbound, Battle of the Planets had its heroes traveling to numerous alien worlds that looked an awful lot like Earth, because that’s where the locales were intended to be in the anime.

The reimagined Battle of the Planets casts the five heroes as G-Force, referencing the force of gravity and not specifically Gatchaman. Its members are the even-tempered leader Mark, hotheaded rebel Jason, an independent female ironically named Princess, the husky comedic relief Tiny, and the kid brother of the team, Keyop. Known as the mischievous Jinpei in Japan, Keyop received the adaptation’s most drastic overhaul, becoming a genetically engineered clone child with an unusual speech impediment that caused him to stutter and make whirring noises. He was portrayed by Alan Young, Disney’s longtime voice of Uncle Scrooge.

G-Force is overseen by Dr. Anderson, the team’s founder and chief of security for the Intergalactic Federation. He gives G-Force their missions, and is depicted as someone genuinely concerned for the safety of the teens in his care. Much of his mentor role in the original anime was removed and given to a new character, 7-Zark-7, a robot introduced for American audiences. 7-Zark-7 provided voiceovers that smoothed over any of the scenes cut from the U.S. airings (often due to the original’s violent content) and some kid-friendly comedic relief. His visual evoked Star Wars’ R2-D2, while his personality was similar to C-3PO’s. New animation was created to insert 7-Zark-7 into the episodes, but fans have noted it doesn’t match the quality of the original anime.

The revamped mission of G-Force is to protect Earth from outer-space threats, such as the masked overlord Zoltar from the planet Spectra. Zoltar receives orders from “the Luminous One,” who appears to him as an ethereal floating head. In his Gatchaman incarnation, the original interpretation of Zoltar could adopt numerous female forms, an element dropped from the American version.

Although Battle of the Planets didn’t have much of a life in the United States after 1985, a cult following did exist. One kid of the era who never forgot the show was Alex Ross, who by the early 2000s had become one of the most acclaimed artists in comics. Teaming in 2002 with Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions, Ross served as art director for Battle of the Planets’ first appearance in comics in more than 20 years. Orders for the first issue, according to Top Cow’s press release, were double what the company expected.

The true standout visually are the Alex Ross covers, which merge his photorealistic style with the show’s anime designs. His color choices are remarkable, and he somehow makes these cartoony images seem very much three-dimensional. Ross had already earned his reputation as the “Norman Rockwell of comics,” but these images were the earliest indications of his impressive ability to stretch his style. If there ever is a CGI-animated Battle of the Planets or Gatchaman film (something that’s been talked about for years but has been stuck in development hell), it would be a shame if it didn’t resemble Ross’ work.

It was announced at the San Diego Comic Con in July 2019 that Joe and Anthony Russo are producing a live-action Battle of the Planets film through their production company, AGBO, with the possibility of directing. On July 22, 2021, it was announced the Russo Brothers have brought Daniel Casey as the film’s scriptwriter.

Cool future TV projects, assemble! While Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo remain in constant contact with the head honchos at Marvel Studios, they’re also at work on other fun projects. Brother Joe has given Collider some details on the non-MCU projects he and Anthony announced at San Diego Comic-Con last year, including adapting the Grimjack comic book series for Amazon, a live-action adaptation of the 1978 series Battle of the Planets, and an animated series based on Magic: The Gathering for Netflix.

The big thing that Joe revealed about their upcoming Battle of the Planets is that it’s “not going to be a direct adaptation of the series” (which itself was an American adaptation of the Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman). In fact, it’s going to be an original story, with a “new mythology.”

“It’s going to be our own story that we tell surrounding a group of genetically altered kids who are involved in a space war,” he said.

Alas, the Russos are currently only “in the bible phase for Battle of the Planets,” and Joe said it will “take months of gestating and trying to figure out what the new mythology is.” And once they commit their new mythology to a bible, from there they’ll create some concept art, and once they’ve created some artwork they like, then they’ll commit to a script. So don’t hold your breath to see what this new vision for the old series will be, since it’s going to take a while.

Near mint, 1st print. Bagged & Boarded.