Sunday, April 6, 2014

CBR:Quickies Battle of the Planets (comics)

Battle of the Planets! G-Force, five incredible young people with superpowers! And watching over them from Centre Neptune, 7-Zark-7!

Watching, warning against surprise attacks by alien galaxies from beyond space. G-Force! Fearless young orphans, protecting Earth's entire galaxy.

Always five, acting as one. Dedicated! Inseparable! Invincible!

Check out more TATSUNOKO Production review below:

Time for another look back at a Tatsunoko Production classic series!

While animes in general (and live action tokusatsu shows - aka scifi action shows) are still being inspired to this day by the cult classic series Gatchaman, much of the American "superhero teams" genre owns a lot to the internationally broadcasted Battle of the Planets, its Western-ized version.

It impressed the young mind and sparked the imagination of kids everywhere.

In the US for example, it went on to have a huge impact on fan-favorite artist/painter Alex Ross all the way through his childhood! In fact it's part of what inspired him to put such effort in most of his work.

No wonder he became one of the principal forces behind a revival of the show through Top Cow Productions (Image Comics), not only supervising the series but also working on the cover arts on a regular basis.

What is Battle of the Planets you ask?

An original 1972 anime by popular studio Tatsunoko titled "Science Ninja Team Gatchaman". It was later edited in 1978 as "Battle of the Planets" outside Japan. And finally a second less popular re-edit in 1986 as "G-Force: Guardians of Space". Despite some changes to the backstory, setting and motivation of the characters the basic pitch is always the same: the show follows 5 young heroes protecting earth from over-the-top alien villains trying to conquer our planet. Those 5 heroes form an all bird-themed superteam!

A first comic book series saw the day in the early 80s at Gold Key Comics.

Top Cow decided to revive and revamp Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets as an on-going series, which was finally set as a 12-issue limited series. It would be followed by several minis and one-shots. The comic book would go back to the original Japanese roots of the show while incorporating several aspects of the American edit such as the names of the characters (Mark, Jason, Princess, Tiny & Keyop).

Most of this comic was later reprinted as both Trade Paperbacks and Digest-sized Collections. All 12 issues and most of the specials have been collected.

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Sketchbook Preview
Art by Alex Ross & Wilson Tortosa
Format: One-shot preview for the then-upcoming Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Since the actual Battle of the Planets comic would only begin in 2002, when they announced it a year earlier a special "Sketchbook Preview" issue was released in January 2001 to help fans wait and build up the hype.

This special preview issue only received a limited release and just features a dozen or so pages of sketches. Concept designs from series supervisor Alex Ross & artist Wilson Tortosa.

It's just a little behind the scenes look to wait for the actual comic.

Overall: Alex Ross concept designs for the series. A simple little preview book with the art of Alex Ross and series artist Tortosa, no actual page in progress, long before the actual series started.

It's only a must for huge Gatchaman or Alex Ross fans, not really necessary to be honest.

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Battle Book #1
Edited by Renae Geerlings, Sina Grace, Peter Lam, Jim McLaughlin & Phil Smith
Format: One shot special issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

The Battle of the Planets Battle Book was actually released along issue #9, it was printed in May 2003.

It's a one-shot special detailing the G-Force team.

It was supposedly written by Chief of Security and G-Force leader/mentor Chief Anderson. Their de facto-father figure.

It gives some interesting insight on the characters and was supposed to work as a guide for new readers/fans. Showcasing the characters, their weapons and their vehicles.

It also gives some much needed background to the whole Spectra Organization led by the flamboyant Zoltar, aka the villains.

Overall: It's fun but not really essential.

This Battle Book contained lots of info and trivia tidbits for fans.

And great artwork from both the comic book series and the actual show. The end also contains some pin-up art by several Top Cow artists.

Note also the fun cover by UDON Studios. They would continue to provide alternate covers along Alex Ross on the main series.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #1/2
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa & Edwin David
Format: Single special issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Announced in January2001, the actual Battle of the Planets comic would only be actually released in August 2002. To help fans wait and to show something earlier a pre-issue was released in 2002 in the meantime, to launch the actual series. Issue #1/2.

This issue serves as an introduction to our characters as they are training at the center Neptune under Chief Anderson. He has been part of the program to bring up these very special kids.

These last few years his talks about an alien invasion threat have been ignored by the authorities...

Will the G-Force be ready in time when push comes to shove??

Overall: A fun little teaser. Showing our protagonists prior to the actual story. Younger and in training.

It's a nice warm-up that shows some promises in terms of both story and art.

With Alex Ross clearly announced as series art director.

The book also contains at the end several concept arts by Alex Ross giving the tone of the show for the on-going series. It served as both preparation for his cover work on Battle of the Planets and would also be serving as guideline for the series' artist.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #1
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Here comes the comic book series!

In this first issue we are introduced to the threat the Spectra Organization might pose, coming from deep beneath the Himalayas. Their sub-leader Zoltar decides it's time to come into action.

Thankfully the G-Force is here to save the day!

But who exactly are these heroes and why was this superteam formed in secret by the government?

Their first mission was a success. Andreas Tomak, aka the Commander-in-chief of the United Armed Forces, is forced to admit the whole operation might just work.

But as they were going to celebrate, the villains start to attack cities.

They arrive on the scene... suddenly a giant robot attacks the town!!

And who will be able to protect the human race for these new sort of threats?!

Overall: What a fantastic opener!

Fast-paced, eventful and with a great rhythm, not only did this Battle of the Planets comic mimic the tone of the show to perfection but also give a new fresh start to this series.

Our writer Munier Sharrieff is also apparently a huge fan of the show. Not only was he able to start anew and bring the series back to its original Japanese roots, but also incorporate several nods and allusion to both America edits of the show. This is just as much a Gatchaman comic as it is a Battle of the Planets and a G-Force one. Keeping the best of all of its incarnations. The characters being addressed by their original American names might take some getting used to or detract the purists, but it was made by fans and for fans before anything. And the Japanese names were kept as the character's codenames anyhow!

Artist Wilson Tortosa managed to do a great job at capturing the anime look of these characters. And even keep some of the sensibilities from Alex Ross' renditions. Cartoony, anime-esque and pretty fun.

All in all,

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #2
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Our heroes Mark, G-1 aka the Eagle, Jason, G-2 the condor, Princess, G-3 the swan, Keyop, G-4 the swallow and Tiny, G-5 the horned owl are extracted from their leisure time to help confront the giant machine terrorizing Central West city.

Their aircraft the Phoenix takes them to the heart of the battle being waged across the sky of Central West where they meet war legend Red-1 and his squad.

The henchmen of Spectra are bombarding the once-peaceful town with their alien ships.

Who is this mysterious Zoltar?

The giant robot attaches itself to the Phoenix and starts a crash course to the ground...!

Overall: Another fantastic well paced issue!

The action never goes down!

This is another must read, a great way to reimagine this classic anime for a modern audience. The transition from anime show-to-comic isn't that detracting and in facts these characters find their mark (no pun intended!) pretty quick!

Solid action-packed and captivating.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #3
Written by Munier Sharrieff & Edwin David
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

The enigmatic colonel Cronus aka Red-1 is just witnessing the giant machine exploding up in the sky.

Are our heroes dead? Not just yet! They were able to pull off an impossible maneuverer..  They turned the Phoenix itself into flame which helped them defeat the robot!

There's some internal friction amongst the team. Between our leader Mark and the lone wolf Jason. Thankfully the janitor is here to break them apart with some of his wisdom.

Were the evil Spectra just defeated? No. It was all part of some sinister plan from Zoltar...

Overall: The spectacular action continues!

Once again, it's just as fun as the show and goes a bit more into details.

While this issue was definitively slower in terms of pacing it helped ground our heroes some more and their motivation.

The well detailed art still is a lot of fun, they also begun this issue what would be one of the main on-going jokes in this BotP series - that is hiding as many references and funny little anime classics throwaway cameos in crowd shots in the background. Keep your eye open for allusions to cult vintage series such as Lupin III or Cutey Honey! It's well worth it!

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #4
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Back in the Himalayas we see Zoltar bowing to some mysterious superior entity known only as the Luminous One, from somewhere afar from its homeworld, the Crab Nebula.

Apparently Zoltar's only one of his lieutenants. The Terrapin robot was also only a mere distraction to provide cover for the main weapon they deployed...

What is Zoltar's real secret? He seems to suffer from a split personality of sorts...

We get treated to a mission debriefing with the team. To evaluate their psyche condition.

Little Keyop is still traumatized from his brutal experience on the actual field.

Our heroes go after a lead but Mark finds himself in a trap.. when suddenly the entire floor on that building explodes!!

Overall: While the first act continued the slow pacing of the last issue, with much exposition and more introduction to key players in BotP, the ending was such a shocker! Great cliffhanger!

Another solid issue all around. Much better than one might expect from these sort of comic adaptations. It really shows the people in control of this book love the series.

By the by, this issue features one of my favorite covers of this entire series. I dunno why, the team look pretty kickass in their civilian garbs.

Also this issue contained some random hilarious Ghostbusters references if you're attentive enough!

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #5
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

The team went to investigate Omni Foundries and left little Keyop behind. (the janitor seems to be keeping an eye on him? I wonder why...)

Mark was blown off right out of the building, Jason shooting his arm is able to wake him up in time for him to change up into his G-1 attire and escape death in the nick of time.

Meanwhile Tiny and Princess are under fire at the Olympus Courts. They get trapped by several soldiers from Spectra. Tiny is able to save a girl over there (good for you, Tiny!).

Chief Anderson is trying to make their Spectra prisoner from the last attack to talk without much success... He claims himself a patriot and not a traitor (who is he?!) and won't be giving no answers for our heroes...

Later on, the G-Force goes to infiltrate Utoland, a resort country for the rich and the infamous! They meet Anderson there who briefs them on their next target.

Is everything okay or is that merely the calm before the storm...?

Overall: A much calmer issue after the frantic first issues we got so far.

The art is still top notch and the characters fun to follow.

I felt like this was much more a filler issue than anything else, really. The conflict from the last issue is quickly resolved.

Nothing much. Solid issue, albeit nothing much going on besides setting the scene for the next one.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #6
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa

Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

The super city of Central West has been going through its worts rainstorm in ages and even the skies have turned to a crimson red for some reason.

Suddenly, everybody has fallen asleep...!?!

The next morning the citizens have finally awaken, like they all shared the same dream and it finally came to an end..

Why's that, you ask!? It's another one of Spectra's schemes of course!!

All Hail Spectra!!

They were able to brainwash people and now they've closed off the city....

Our team goes back to Central Neptune to plan the next move... but it turns out almost everyone was taken over too!

What are they going to do?!

Overall: A great follow-up to a much calmer previous issue. Which was only setting up the stage for this next arc!

It's a more subtle form of attack from Spectra!

How will our heroes get out of this one?

This was a great smaller-scale creepy issue. It's not a big colorful scifi battle but an Invasion of the body snatchers-type of scenario.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #7
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

The military forces lost sight of their enemy and can't even enter Central West...

It would be about time to deploy T.H.O.R., a secret defense project satellite for just this sort of occasion. But T.H.O.R. has just gone offline for some reason...? It was going to be their all-seeing eye in the sky, armed with the most sofisticated artificial intelligence in the world. It was alos linked to Mjolnir, a THOR-controlled arsenal aircraft that they just lost too now.

It seems they might have a double agent, hidden in plain sight amongst them...??

Chief Anderson is hurt by Zoltar himself!

The virus was airborne, when the Terrapin blew up it saturated the clouds and the rain from last night helped spread it...

The team has to investigate the scene while Spectra holds the entire city in its claws...

Mark and Keyop crash in the middle of an armed crowd...

Overall: Another solid and captivating issue.

Nothing much to say than the series continues its solid run. Great art all around and great plotting.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #8
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Zoltar has great news for his "superior". The city is firmly in the grasp of Spectra as of now.

The Phoenix crashed deep beneath a water plant.

Jason goes solo to help the situation leaving Tiny behind, but Princess wants to joins him. Good thing. Since there are even more Spectra soldiers coming..!

The General Tomak admits to chief Anderson Earth is not alone in this battle against Spectra... In fact they can count on the planet Riga which will join the fight if it comes to it...!

Zoltar arrives at a shady compound, the Spectra Organization just captured Keyop and Mark! 

Overall: What a twist!

The action continues and the suspense never stops!

This was another fantastic issue, revealing some more new information regarding the plot and the characters.

And Spectra's closing in... Will the villains win... No, it cannot be...?

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #9
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Mark is able to escape from Zoltar's torture, finds Keyop and they try to run from that place.

Mark has to fight Zoltar on his own turf to a stand-off. But Zoltar's not merely a simple leader, he's also a great fighter on his own. Plus the evil genius has some tricks up his sleeves...

Princess and Jason are fighting a horde of enemies, both Spectra and human...!

Suddenly the signal controlling the civilians is cut off... people finally wake up!

Tiny grab our two heroes in the middle of the crowd and now the Phoenix has to take down Mjolnir on its own!

Mark is able to defeat Zoltar, and takes the madman in his custody! But he suddenly warps away...

The team is reunited.

No mater the odds, G-Force will always prevail!

Overall: And that's the end of the main second arc!

By this point it had been decided Battle of the Planets' on-going series would rather be now a 12-issue maxi-series. So plot had to be adapted to make it more self-contained and turn these issues into smaller 4-issue arcs (these first 9 issues, which included a small filler).

While it means this arc was concluded rather quickly and simply, it also makes it closer to the tone of the episodes in the original show. Which is a nice trade off.

All in all, a solid conclusion to an already fun plot.

To be continued!

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Mark #1
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Edwin David
Format: One-shot special issue Battle of the Planets: Mark #1.

We take a break from the main on-going series to check on a one-shot released in between issue #9 and 10.

Mark was taking some well deserved time off for himself, piloting his plane. No G-Force, no alien invasion, just his favorite pastime.

Suddenly he's attacked... by Red Impulse, the United Armed Forces special air strike force?

Mark gets to meet the entire team. They want him to replace their mysterious leader Colonel Cronus  who has been apparently killed in action... They just wanted to test Mark for the role.

It happened a week ago while on a simple surveillance mission in Mandrakos. Cronus had to fight off strange small aircrafts and was suddenly taken out.

Meanwhile, somewhere else in a dark and dangerous place, the colonel his being held in captivity and being used for a strange experiment. They wanna copy his abilities to mass reproduce pilots for Spectra!

We learn he has actually really been Mark's father in reality!

The colonel is able to escape during the confusion caused by Mark and the Red team. He also destroys the creature that was feeding off his brain patterns... no pilots for you, Spectra!

They escape from a ton of Spectra soldiers.

The end actually ties in directly into a scene from BotP #9.

Overall: A fun look into one of the G-Force protagonists.

This is a deluxe-sized one shot special.

With Edwin David taking over art from Wilson Tortosa in the main series. His art is pretty consistent with the look of the series, not that far from Tortosa's and it didn't detract much from the general tone of the series. Fitting artist!

At the time time it was announced we would be getting a series of one-shots for each member of the G-Team, and while we did get Jason shortly afterwards, those plans had to be drastically changed due to the coming cancellation of the book...

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #10
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

Our story opens 24 hours after the retreat of Spectra from Central West. People are finally happy feeling at peace after so long, but they also fear the reprisal once this enemy might gather his bearings...

In a secret bunker we meet this new army of terrorist preparing to take over after Zoltar's defeat. Led by someone who had been left for dead back in the first issues. And Zoltar's going to wish Korak had died with the Iron Terrapin!

General Tomak tells Anderson about their alien allies in their war against Spectra. And how this supposedly alien took over his body long ago and now he's been on Earth here acting as their eyes to help prevent the rise of Spectra's empire.

Humanity has actually engaged in a war against their future selves (!?!). That's why Spectrans look exactly like humans!

Our G-Force heroes have all been trying to help people in different ways post-this war against Spectra. Mark has been acting all Batman-ysh and stuff. The others have been working with the help relief to help survivors. But Tiny's not quite himself and acting all sad. He hasn't been the same since the incident and that whole thing with the daughter of Spectra's ally Rupert Spinner. Meanwhile Jason appears to be just plain looking for trouble.

At the end, Jason reunites Tiny with the girl of his dreams!

Overall: This one was another simpler calmer aftermath issue. But this time it was much better handled.

It was nice since we both got to see close several ongoing threads (the end's coming up!!) and also get several new revelations regarding key players!

I'm not sure introducing a new main villain was a good idea though...

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #11
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

In the middle of the night Mark wakes up. He's having another of those strange nightmares following his adventure with Red Impulse.

Meanwhile Jason is apparently all grumpy once again (more on that the next one-shot special!).

Mark tries to understand how could the chief be the victim of assassination attempt, they never had the time to deal with this before. How exactly did a Spectra assassin get this close to.. Was that... Jason??

Tiny is all in love with this Carla girl and starts talking to an angry Jason that gets quickly annoyed...

Suddenly a new Spectra machine emerges from deep beneath the ocean!

It's time for G-Force to enter into action. Transmute!!

Zoltar's back! And he has the United Forces leaders in his captivity - including chief Anderson!

You're move G-Force...

Overall: A solid action-packed issue with great tension in the story and amongst the team.

While not as crazy as the earlier issues, it's still a fantastic read with great characterization and art. Much better drama that one might expect from such a comic adaptation.

Up next we have the Final Battle!  But first a quick stop by Jason...

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Jason #1
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Edwin David
Format: One-shot special issue Battle of the Planets: Jason #1.

This was the second one-shot released along issue #11 but taking place prior to it.

Our story begins with Mark in some seedy inn with a sniper rifle, waiting for some strange letter containg a target...

A few days ago...

We get to know more about Mark's background. We learn that his birthname was actually George (!) and that he's Sicilian! (and Lupin III apparently frequents that restuarant)

Mark goes to see his uncle in a strange adult club. The man gives him a shady job.

While providing some protection for a client, a killer attacks the limousine. The plot thickens and ties directly into the death of his parents as a kid!

While deep undercover he now has to take down Chief Anderson!!

Mark later gets his revenge. He finally faces and brutally kills the murderer of his parents.

Was his dad really working for Spectra...?

Overall: A much darker story but equally great.

Probably the most serious issue in the entire series, giving some gravitas for Mark's personality.

The authors do seem to be having fun exploring these characters by themselves.

Like usual, great art, top notch plot. Some heavy narration due to following the most serious character on the team.

All in all, it's all good.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets #12
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets on-going series.

This is it! The final issue! The last battle with Spectra... or is it only the beginning?

"Destroy all monsters"! Join Mark, Jason, Princess, Keyop and Tiny in this all-out battle against the Spectra Organization, the explosive conclusion to this maxi-series!

Zoltar had captured the President and Chief of Security Anderson from the United Forces. And G-Force is now forced to protect Spectra's new giant robot from the army. And all their signals are being blocked, so they can't even warn the commanders in charge...

There is one employee at the United Forces who can't wait for the outcome of this situation, Shiro the Janitor. As he watches a photo of young Keyop one last time, we are left to wonder.. Who really is this old man... ?

Tomak consults the other alien scouts from planet Riga, invisible being to the human eye.

A conflict between Jason and Mark arise.. Was that a glimpse of the end of G-Force (in more ways than one?).

Zoltar still has an army of mechanical monsters under his sleeves! (long time fans of the show will recognize several of those faces)

Our heroes defeat armies of Spectra soldiers to get to the hostages. They are able to save Madame President and Anderson. They also have one last trick.. G-Force performs super tornado attack and is able to get out of there free! They use the Phoenix to escape those evil headquarters.

But where did Jason go...?

Jason left to stay with the bad guys! He's really going to help Zoltar rise an army of clones?! How can it be...!!

Overall: And that was it!

A fantastic long-awaited epic conclusion. Fantastic story and always-stunning art. The only real downer in my eyes is probably that unresolved mysterious ending that was supposed to be followed upon...

One can say this whole Battle of the Planets comic series worked as a prequel of sorts to the entire animated series... but surely you would have needed one more story-arc as to properly get the proper status quo of the anime.

It's the end of a very enjoyable run.

The ending was epic as well as that cliffhanger.. Sadly it wouldn't really ever be continued since this was the end of the series.

Top Cow would continue to explore this franchise through several more one-shots and mini-series but it would never really be the same...

The only real continuation of these 12 issues would be in the form of the Battle of the Planets: Manga.

We also get some final words from both writer Munier Sharrieff and Alex Ross, as well as several member of UDON Studios (which worked on the following Witchblade and Thundercats crossovers). All showing much enthusiasm for this whole BotP/Gatchaman project.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Manga #1
Written by David Wohl
Art by Edwin David
Format: Single issue from the 3-issue mini-series, Battle of the Planets: Manga #1.

And we are back with our heroes of the G-Force!

Our story begins at Center Neptune, the undersea HQ of G-Force. With security chief Anderson.

Will his team be ready for a new critical mission they are embarking upon? Hopefully this mission won't be their last...

The target? An amusement park... Or at least, what appears to be one, but there might be actually a lot more going beneath it...

Tiny and Keyop are riding the craziest roller coaster in the world.

Meanwhile Princess his in a moto racing game, breaking new records!

Where is Jason you ask? Appropriately in some shooting game (I suppose we have to be fine with this... no words on that cliffhanger we left on the main series, no allusions to it, nothing...? Really? Darn'...).

Everybody sure is having fun. Only Keyop has some doubts.. he's kind of missing the fact he never had any real parents to speak off to take him to one of these amusement parks as a kid...

Keyop goes in some sort of spook house.

With a bunch of kids he's replaced by what appeared to be simple reflections at first...? Why's that? This park hides a secret Spectra organization! They're even hiding it from Zoltar himself. It's their own secret evil plan!

And by accident they were just able to capture a member of G-Force..? It's a huge success for Spectra!

Suddenly, that fake!Keyop gets the rest of the team in trouble!

A robot! Working along (the fake) Keyop?!

Overall: A pretty fun issue. But don't expect it to follow up the main series. Some undisclosed time has passed since then... (where they hoping to get the main on-going series back? they should have used this mini to offer a proper continuation)

This "manga" version was a 3-issue mini-series that last from 2003 to 2004. Following the conclusion of the series in August 2003. The "Battle of the Planets: Manga" was shortly launched in November 2003.

It's a much "smaller budget " follow-up of sorts, since the only actual manga thing about it was that it's in fact simply in black & white.

With writer David Wohl taking over the plotting. It's a much more simpler episode-style, it has sort of that "monster of the week" formula to it. This could have been perfectly an installment on the actual show.

And Edwin David remaining on art duties. His style does look nice by itself, with no colors.

After one epic series, this feels like a mere filler rather than the follow-up you might have hoped for.

All in all, it's still pretty good, only it's a much more basic offering.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Manga #2
Written by David Wohl
Art by Edwin David
Format: Single issue from the 3-issue mini-series, Battle of the Planets: Manga #2.

Last we left our heroes they were in some new trouble in the form of a giant robot formed from scrap material lying around the park. And Keyop seems to be controlling it? Did he betray the team?? Princess can't believe it...

They try to subdue the giant mechanical creature... with no success...

Who is that Keyop doppelganger you ask? A subtle ruse from a bunch of Spectra soldiers hoping to infiltrate mankind through another scheme!

The faker gets short circuited! But where's the real one?

Keyop finds the other kids in captivity and helps them!

When suddenly the entire park seems to be coming to life and attacking visitors!!

Overall: The story continues!

While it's certainly not the best or the most imaginative Battle of the Planets story ever done, it's still a nice enough comic in itself.

It just feels like a filler. A big 3-issue filler, but a filler story nonetheless.

With a one-time threat and one-time villains.

At least it gave us a Keyop-centric tale. I wonder if originally this was meant to be contained in a single issue, in colors, and released as the Battle of the Planets: Keyop one-shot special... Mmmh..

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Manga #3
Written by David Wohl
Art by Edwin David
Format: Single issue from the 3-issue mini-series, Battle of the Planets: Manga #3.

The situation is only getting worse!

The entire park awakens and starts threatening the civilians!

Jason and Prin' are taking the fight to Spectra while Tiny oversees the situation from the Phoenix, and Mark goes after Keyop if he can possibly find him in this mess...

Meanwhile Keyop himself is taking on the entire organization from behind the scenes and saving the rest of the children trapped in the park.

Princess gets to race again against those soldiers. This time on her own special bike, those robotic bikes don't stand a chance against her...

Tiny uses their aircraft at best against those hordes of Spectra soldiers.

And Jason also gets to do his own thing, only this time he won't be needing any guns to do so!

Zoltar arrive on the scene (via a com-link screen) only to see the entire operation crumbling to pieces (the soldiers lie to him and try to make some time to clean this up...).

That is precisely when they decide to awake another gigantic mechanical nightmare! But this "Mechagodzilla" doesn't stand a chance against the combined force of our heroes!

The team is reunited and with a fiery final blow they are able destroy the creature!

Overall: The G-Force saves the day once more!

The last issue from any sort of Battle of the Planets on-going was released in January 2004.

It's a nice conclusion, to a story that seemed to drag on a bit. It doesn't feel like it should have been a 3-issue story to begin with...

Anyway, nice conclusion. Great crisp clean art. Nothing more.

This comic also contains the original script for comparison, just for fun, giving us a look at how a comic is made.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Princess #1
Written by David Wohl
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets: Princess mini-series.

We're back with our 5 scientifically enhanced teenagers in this all-new tale!

Princess is selected to go on a special mission of her own in the Himalayas. Alone.

A strange idol appeared in Changu. Who built it... and why? She goes there alone to avoid suspicion from the locals.

Mark and Jason are blowing some steam off by playing a game of table tennis..Keyop is missing!! Did he go after Princess??

Prin' is having some memories from way back, from her childhood. Growing up and training in the monastery near Changu. Chief Anderson had sent her there as a kid. She decides to make a turn and check out her old "home" quickly.

But something happened there since then.. The entire town was destroyed!

While Keyop's visiting the actual target town - as he went looking for Princess - she gets in trouble with some kind of mutated feral feline. She can't activate her transmitter and loses it in the battle...

Robot warriors have been tearing apart the region... They arrive where Keyop is with a resident, waiting for Princess to show up.

Overall: This is more like it! Much more interesting and captivating that the previous mini.

The Battle of the Planets: Princess mini was published from November 2004 to May 2005. As such it's one of the very last BotP material released by Top Cow/Image.

While Mark and Jason got one-shot specials each, Princess gets to have an entire limited series of her own! She deserves it, I think she's the most interesting character of the team. (in the end only Tiny didn't get the time to shine in a story of his own, counting the BotP: Manga as Keyop's)

Like the Battle of the Planets: Manga before, it also is in black and white only. Which works with the series, coming from the anime/manga scene originally.

We have Wilson Tortosa back on the artwork for this series. It's fantastic to have him back, he fits great with this universe and it shows! It's great to have him back, since he was one of those who originally defined the original comic book series.

Stunning work, very clean, just lovely.

All in all, a great starting point and a new entry in this BotP comic book series. Recommended for long time fans or new readers!

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Princess #2
Written by David Wohl
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets: Princess mini-series.

Princess is racing away from a horde of robot warriors that were hiding and terrorizing the region around the Himalayas.

Charioteers! Just great... Flaming charioteers! Even better!

The rest of the G-Force crew arrive. With Jason doing his best impersonation of the Batman! Again!

Meanwhil in the village of Changu Keyop and the old man are fighting off the entire bunch of robot soldiers.

The old man tells Keyop the secret of Changu...

Back at the giant idol who do we find once again... it's Zoltar!

The heroes (minus Princess) arrive over there. The Spectra soldiers have a new surprise of their own for the G-Force.. They learned some new techniques! From our heroes' own methods! Team up work! A ton of them get together and they are able to form an improvised super robot form!! Woah! I didn't see that coming, at all! Impressive.

That is when Princess arrive on the scene to save the rest of G-Force! Better late than never, right?!

They do their own combined super attack to defeat the giant robot.

Later in the Phoenix they get into an argument... Poor little Keyop doesn't like when the rest of the team is angry at each other.. Good thing he found a new little friend (an insect)...

Overall: Much more characterization and exploration of the team.

Another great issue.

All in all, a much better job at emulating the anime-influence than the previous BotP: Manga mini. Tortosa's probably the reason why this is miles away from the previous series.

The  Battle of the Planets: Princess received a lot of, shall we say, "saucy" sexy pin-up cover art in its entire run. Top Cow probably wanted to use it as selling point... While this one doesn't really "show" much, it certainly is a very suggestive one what with her pose. I have nothing really against that, but it's a shame since this series was supposed to be focusing on a heroine (you could use it to introduce the series to female reader!).

Anyway, it's not like the original animated series didn't contain its fair share of sexy moments involving her character...

That's beside the point... Another great issue.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Princess #3
Written by David Wohl
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets: Princess mini-series.

Princess decides its time to do her best Spider-man impersonation.. and leaves super-heroics behind her for good! She quits!

Zoltar has just found another way to impress the luminous one... another way to get at humans... He's going to conquer Earth by taking its children away!...

Princess winds up at a J-Club bar (literally filled with a dozen manga/anime references! The Cat's Eyes! Kaneda! and more!).

Jason finds her... Princess wonders if there's more to life than just wasting their entire childhood as soldiers of war..

The insect Keyop grabbed in the mountains mutates into some kinda large creature... It hypnotizes Key' and capture him inside its torso!!

Overall: While this tale started and seemed to end quickly over the last issues, it was only the beginning of the trouble!

Princess is searching for her own path. Keyop gets captured (again!?). Meanwhile our leader Mark is the biggest douche he's ever been and Jason is playing it cool. Tiny? Huh.. I don't remember.. Was he in this issue..?

Another great entry in Top Cow's Battle of the Planets series.

For the cameos and references alone,

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Princess #4
Written by David Wohl
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets: Princess mini-series.

Princess is finally enjoying life for what it is. Going out with her friend Miya, shopping, etc. (That first page alone is worth it in cameos! The FFX-II gals! Alita!) Suddenly the city is attacked by a giant robotic bug!

The army is having trouble fighting off the robot...

Zoltar's new plan is going perfectly according to plans. He's already ready to call it a day, it's a success!

Prin' returns to the headquarters. Keyop is missing? Last time she saw him in his room he was hanging with a little insect... His room's completely destroyed!? How...

Keyop is inside that... thing! They have to be careful.

Red Impulse arrive on the scene, ready to blow up the monster!... What about Keyop!?

Overall: Another solid issue, this story arc is actually pretty original and it's hard to figure where it's all going for.

Great art all around. Tortosa's usual quality. Full of details, great facial expression and funny cameos.


I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Princess #5
Written by David Wohl
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets: Princess mini-series.

The the famous "dat ass" special issue! (haha... I'm just half-joking here... dat cover, though...)

Colonel Cronus was about to blow up the insect (and Keyop) back to Kingdom Come, but he's suddenly ordered to call off the attack ny Chief Anderson.

There's several more robot insects flying over the skies (and once more the villains managed to capture one of the G-Force totally by accident!).

Mark and Princess go on a solo mission to infiltrate the villains' new lair. Some kind of Roman Coliseum in the middle of the ocean.

Keyop and the kids are trapped in a laboratory, they're about to run through some experiments...

Princess and Mark land in the wrong place... in the middle of an entire Spectra army!

Overall: Another great fun issue.

This whole plot feels like a much better take on the BotP: Manga story (children captured? check. Keyop amongst them? check. for some kind of experiment/manipulation? double check...).

While I absolutely loved the artwork, the plot, the dialogues and the interaction between the characters, it was the awful cover art done by Eric Basaldua that almost ruined it for me.. I mean, sheesh! Talk about cheesy art... And you wonder why people call comics childish... It's a lovely butt, mind you. But the awful convulsed pose just to show it... Blah..

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets: Princess #6
Written by David Wohl
Art by Wilson Tortosa
Format: Single issue from the Battle of the Planets: Princess mini-series.

Princes and Mark found themselves trapped in the middle of a Spectra organization, meanwhile Keyop and other kids are in the hands of a mad scientist...

Our heroes are saved at the last minute by the rest of the group (Tiny and Jason).

Keyop is able to take his revenge on the bad guy.

The team saves the rest of the children and escape.

The Red Impulse squadron arrive just in time to help our heroes make their way out of the base.

The whole place collapse. The family is back together! Hooray for G-Force!

Overall: And it's over! This was certainly a pretty fun story.

Great issue, it packs a lot. The conflict is resolved, Princess grew a bit. And in the end, all is well for our heroes!

We even also get a much better cover by Basaldua again this time. Much better compared to his last offering the previous issue. A much more dignified yet still sexy cover this time. Perfect.

Top notch issue, all-around great recommended mini-series.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets/Witchblade #1
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Christina Chen with Jo Chen
Format: Deluxe-sized one shot special softcover issue.

I'm reviewing these last few crossover specials here at the end since they don't exactly "fit in" with the rest, but this one was actually released in February 2003 right alongside issue #6 of the original main series.

It's a crossover with the Witchblade series, an Image Comic series following a magical gauntlet of power that served the most powerful women to ever live...

Our story opens somewhere, some time, in Eastern Europe. A grandma is telling the story of "the Princess" that saved her ages ago...

Some out-of-this world foe had taken over the land. The invader was trying to terraform our world for its own needs. That foe was.. Spectra!

One day a mysterious stranger let herself be captured.. She was Princess of G-Force!

The Witchblade weapon had come into the hands of Spectra. Their scientists were trying to understand how to use it...

But the weapon had already set its sights on someone else. It was calling for Princess, she was chosen by it.

The Witchblade showed her its long history with other powerful women throughout the ages. The Witchblade required a host to feed off and it had already found its news chosen hero...

Princess helped the slaves escape, they quickly overtook Spectra by surprises....

..But she was forced to take the weapon!

The rest of G-Force arrived, but almost too late. Princess was almost completely taken over by the dark weapon...

Oh, and that old woman telling the tale at the beginning? A young kid back when G-Force saved their village. She would be the one to become the host to the Witchblade the following decades!

Overall: This was a fun little "side story". A self-contained tale about a little kid who's life was changed after entering in contact with G-Force...

All in all, this 2003 crossover with Witchblade actually works, surprisingly. We don't delve into deep Witchblade details, but it's a nice on the surface-crossover that manages to get both proprieties right.

The art was provided by UDON Studios. Their manga-esque aesthetics is pretty close to every Battle of the Planets comics produced by Top Cow so far. It mixes well with BotP. Perhaps the only one who would complain might be Witchblade fans...

All in all, a fun little crossover that works.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Battle of the Planets/Thundercats 
Written by Munier Sharrieff
Art by Alvin Lee & Rob Ross with Alan Tam
Format: One shot special issue Battle of the Planets/Thundercats.

Before you call this random, let me tell you this crossover actually works pretty naturally to much surprise.

Our story began aboard the Poseidon's Reign, a luxury ship.

There's a threat to world leaders, and information regarding the cruise has been leaked out. So our heroes had to infiltrate it. They're now working on board, protecting these people, hidden in plain sight as staff, passengers and entertainers.

Suddenly Spectra attacks!... but that won't be happening today... tomorrow...or ever! Not with the G-Force around!

Re-suddenly another giant mechanical robot creature appears out of nowhere (this time it's a robot octopus!).

The Phoenix arrives to help save the day. Thanks Tiny! And it's another failed attempt by Zoltar thwarted by our heroes.. One too many if you ask "the great one". He has to punishing Zoltar for this! He zaps him... somewhere...

The team goes back to Center Neptune, this time the mission travel! Their most dangerous mission yet! They will be facing Spectra on some unknown planet!

The travels with the correct coordinates takes them to.. the planet Thundera! Zoltar was sent there to take over the situation from the local Spectra soldiers. They were able to already capture... some kind of local creature? (it's Wilykit from the ThunderCats!! Oooooooooh!!)

Speaking of,

Meanwhile outside, the rest of the ThunderCats are arrive on the scene to free their captured comrade. When they get some company... are those vulture men? No, it's G-Force!

The cats and the birds fight off against each other. Assumptions are made in the heat of the moment...

Lion-O faces Mark with the sword of Omens! The most formidable weapon ever forged! But it also ha the power of sight beyond sight!

Strangely.. through the sword.. they share memories! So both leaders call off the battle and settle. They have a common enemy now, they should work together!

The cats and the birds attack Spectra, Zoltar was already trying to make alliances with Thundera's most vicious foes...

Wilykit was about to be experimented on.. when Keyop saves her in time!

Lion-O was kicking some ass, Mark arrives to help him out.

Mumm-Ra himself is awaken! The rest of Thundera's villains escape, Mumm-Ra and Zoltar face each other. Our heroes leave those enemies to deal with each other!

Zoltar has learnt his lesson, his superior takes him back to earth.

G-Force has to leave... but not before Keyop gets a kiss from Wilykit! You got lucky, kiddo!

Overall: This was a pretty fun crossover! Strangely.. fitting. Odd, but not that far off.

Both respective franchises shared a lot of elements and tropes of the genre.

My only complaint is that they didn't pair both strong men from both groups (Tiny and Panthro) and both rivals/angry teammates (Jason and Tygra)... Too bad...

There were two more crossovers following the Witchblade one, these were made with another old school cartoon propriety... the original ThunderCats! This first one was published in May 2003 alongside issue #9 of the main series and was published by Top Cow.

The art was once again provided by UDON. This issue was made to be kept in tone with the regular Battle of the Planets series. You can fit during its course... or keep it apart you won't be missing much (except, well, all the fun!).

Two covers were made for these two Battle of the Planets/Thundercats crossovers. One by regular BotP artist Alex Ross and the other by J. Scott Campbell. The regular main cover was made by the other series' regular (cover) artist, the secondary alternate cover by the actual series' regular and vice-versa.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Thundercats/Battle of the Planets  
Written by Kaare Andrews
Art by Kaare Andrews & UDON Studios
Format: One shot special issue Thundercats/Battle of the Planets.

A kid is watching his Saturday morning cartoons while eating some cereals (a familiar nostalgic intro if there ever is one!).. Suddenly! It's childhood imagination magic as we get treated to a crossover featuring both these classic series! ThunderCats, Hoooo!!

The ThunderCats were investigating some strange trouble. A strange thing opened up in the sky, and Lion-O is going to study it by himself...

Meanwhile on Earth, Mark saw some strange similar weather phenomenon and went for it alone.

Mark gets warped out in the skies of Thundera!

Back on Earth the rest of the team is able to get some images through his monitor.. It's some kind of giant.. cat?

Chief Anderson prevents the team from going after their fallen comrade.. No one's going through that portal! (what is going on with the chief..?...)

We're back with the kid. Now he's playing with some toys during the commercials...

Mark and Lion-O wake up by strange Spectrans-ysh animal-esque creatures...!?!

Back on Earth the rest of the ThunderCats crossed over the portal and are now on our planet, trying to hide amongst the humans.

Jason spots them, the rest of G-Force arrive. Our heroes fight each other... finally they break the fight apart to come to the rescue of their respective lost leaders!

A giant brawl ensues!

This time it's Jason who gets to kiss one of the cats (Cheetara, of course!).

Our crossover ends with two kids (the one from earlier and another) arguing about which series is better! ThunderCats or G-Force??

Overall: This was both hilarious and absolutely perfect!

This second crossover was published this time by Wildstorm (DC Comics) which owned the copyrights to and was printing ThunderCats comics at the time.

This Thundercats/Battle of the Planets one shot was published in July 2003 along the #11th issue of the regular series.

While the first Thundercats/Battle of the Planets crossover from Top Cow's perspective managed to keep the tone of the Battle of the Planets series, WildStome simply went for it and just let writer/artist Kaare Andrews free reign to improvise a fun childhood dream crossover... And it was a fantastic move on their part!

It's a great original comic!

The breakdown of the pages layout itself was pretty clever and divided pages vertically by featuring above the events taking place on planet Thundera and below Earth (during the first act).

We were also treated to some hilarious fake mock-up commercials (featuring He-Man and G.I.Joe!! This crossover just got cra-zy!).

The official never-animated crossover we never truly got back then! It feels like an actual epic episode that could have come from either shows!

Simply - a must!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Alex Ross: Battle of the Planets Artbook
By Alex Ross
Format: Special over-sized special issue.

This is not a comic book issue, per say.

It's simply a collection of all of Alex Ross' work for the Battle of the Planets series. Containing all of his cover work and pin-up art realized for Top Cow.

Also includes a foreword by Ross telling how much BotP inspired him as a kid and continues to be the biggest influence on his work to this day. Great stuff.

Overall: All in all, not a recommended issue. Not a great contribution to the series.

Just a mere collector item.

Just a must have for any Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Gatchaman fan.

Even if you didn't follow the comic book series (for one strange reason or another), it's a great book well worth the space for any fan of the classic vintage animated show.

It's amazing to be able to check out his covers, with no text over it, no distractions. Just a clear clean look at his art. How he adapted himself to capture Tatsunoko's classic series the best possible way.

Lovely art. Over-sized for the occasion. In great print quality.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

And that's all Top Cow was able to print from 2002 to 2005.

This whole comic book series can be seen as prequel of sorts to the show.

The actual anime Gatchaman lasted for about 105 episodes (only 85 of those were used for the Battle of the Planets adaptation). While it was generally faithful in both terms of plot and character development, there were a lot of cuts done to appeal the American market. The original 1972 show Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was followed by Gatchaman II in '78 and Gatchaman Fighter in '79 (those were later also recut, but to a much bigger degree, by Saban into the questionable "Eagle Riders" with no ties to the previous series).

There also was a revival of the franchise in the 90s in the form of a "OVA" series in 1994. It was a great condensed retelling for a much more mature audience.

Why did the comics stop you might ask? Around 2004 the rights to Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets were secured by Sentai Filmworks to produce a CGi animated Gatchaman film by IMAGI. That, of course, never went anywhere and simply quickly went into development hell...

Capcom then obtained the rights to include those characters in the game Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.

Finally we now have a full all-new live action adaptation coming out to look forward to.

All this prevented Top Cow from making any more comics, that is without ever working several issues, contacting the current copyrights owners and having to make a new deal..

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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