Pirates of the Final Frontier

With the live-action movie coming in August, Marvel is naturally focusing its attention on the Guardians of the Galaxy. But it hasn’t forgotten about its other team of space-faring adventurers, the Starjammers.

The Starjammers will be co-starring with a version of Cyclops, one of the original X-Men in a comic called—wait for it– Cyclops, starting in May. A version of Cyclops, you ask?  That’s right. The original Scott Summers, the one who appeared in the original X-Men #1 is an adult now. This version of Cyclops is a teenager who was brought into the 21st century. He’s joining the Starjammers because  because he just discovered that Corsair,  the leader of the team, is his long-lost father.

(Here’s one to file under Time Travel Makes My Head Hurt: this is the second time Corsair has had to reestablish his relationship with his son. The original Cyclops knows who he is, but this younger version has only just learned about it.)

The Starjammers were conceived by the late Dave Cockrum, an artist who rose to prominence with his work on the Legion of Super-Heroes and the revival of the X-Men in the late 1970s. When he was unable to sell the concept as an independent title, he joined forces with Chris Claremont, his collaborator on X-Men, to introduce the Starjammers into the Marvel universe. Since then, the team has been appearing from time to time, including limited series written by novelist Kevin Anderson and Warren Ellis.

Somewhere in the development process, a third influence was added to the mix: the space adventure novels of Poul Anderson.

falkayn 001   corsair2

The Starjammers are led by a human being, Christopher Summers, who adopts the name Corsair.  His team includes Hepzibah, a humanoid female who bears a resemblance to an earthly skunk (or, at least the skunk character that appeared in the classic comic strip Pogo );  Ch’od, a massive, lizard-like alien and Waldo, the artificial intelligence that controls their ship.  Hepzibah  is aggressive and sarcastic, while Ch’od is slow to anger.

One of the major players in Poul Anderson’s future history is a human named David Falkayn. His associates include the cat-like Chee Lan and the dragon-centaur Adzel.  The artificial intelligence that controls their ship is called Muddlehead. Chee Lan is aggressive  and sarcastic while Adzel, who has embraced Buddhism, is slow to anger.

(A quick tangent: there was a period when R.J. Brande, the sponsor of the Legion of Super-Heroes, bore a strong resemblance to Nicholas van Rijn,  another major character from Anderson’s series. Baen Books recently reprinted Anderson’s future history saga in seven omnibus volumes, starting with The van Rijn Method.)

I’d like to tell you that I’m the first person to discover these links, but I can’t.  What I can say is that comments I remember after the Starjammers’ premiere spent a lot of time chasing the proverbial wild goose. Cockrum and Claremont had just introduced the Shi’ar Imperial Guard—a group that was clearly inspired by the Legion of Super-Heroes—so a lot of letter writers were theorizing that the Starjammers evolved from the Fatal Five, a prominent group of Legion villains. This idea was buttressed by the fact that another one of the Starjammers, Raza, is a cyborg with a design similar to Tharok, a member of the Five.

How long will the Starjammers be part of this new comic?  I haven’t found a specific answer to that question, but writer Greg Rucka has been telling interviewers that part of what attracted him to the book was the chance to explore the  Cyclops-Corsair relationship so I’m optimistic that this will be format for a while. Rucka is probably best known for his mystery/suspense work, both in prose and in comics , but he is also the author of a terrific space opera web comic called Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether.          The artist for Cyclops will be Russell Dauterman.

MEANWHILE: Robotech/Voltron #2 is now available at your Local Comics Shop. I’m going to be scripting issues three, four and five of this five-issue crossover, but I was included in the writing credits for this issue because of a change made during the editing. A scene I wrote for issue three was moved up an issue. It’s the last scene in this issue and it even includes one of the Zentraedi  terms I developed for The Malcontent Uprisings,  the first  Robotech comic that I wrote, sometime back in the late Jurassic.  (For the sake of completeness, let me note here that the Zentraedi is one of the alien races that appear in the Robotech saga.)

Incidentally, Robotech/Voltron  is a bimonthly comic, so my first issue is scheduled to  come out in April.



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