I’ve written on this blog that I’ve collected comics for most of my life. When I was a wee lad it wasn’t so much collecting as it was just buying comics and reading them. My brother and I would look at the comics at the Springdale Stationary and get to pick one after church on Sundays. Like most kids we would read them over and over, not caring about preserving them for the future. They got bent and ripped but that didn’t matter, we still enjoyed the heck out of them. Some of our earliest comics were Disney and Looney Tunes comics, Battlestar Galactica (we loved the TV show), and Shogun Warriors.
I mentioned that we didn’t care about keeping our comics in great condition, we weren’t thinking about the future, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t keep them. Many of the things from our childhood have long been gone from our lives as we moved and grew up but not our comic books. We’ve managed to hold on to those well worn treasures to this day. Look at the picture above. Notice the creases in the cover, the rips and worn edges. Check out the spine of the book, the cover is practically coming off. It has been warped from folding it back so the comic could be read holding it with one hand*. Just looking at this comic brings me right back to 1979, to that stationary store, kneeling on the newspapers with my brother eagerly going through that lower shelf of the magazine rack where the comics were kept.
*Editor’s note – when we were a little older and actually started collecting comics the practice of folding the comic around itself was the first habit we had to break to be “serious” collectors.
Writer – Doug Moench
Artist – Herb Trimpe
Inker – Dan Green
Letter – Jim Novak
Colorist – Andy Yanchus
Editor – Al Milgrom
EiC – Jim Shooter
The open splash page has the reader at Shogun Sanctuary where the amazing Shogun Warriors are being recharged with solar power. Dr. Tambura is working with his staff on preparing the mechs for their next adventure and their pilots are training on how to control them better. Elsewhere the villain, Maur-Kon, is working on a plan to defeat the doctor and his “giant robots” by using science instead of his evil magic.
As the new group of pilots get to know each other better we get some background on one of the pilots, Ilongo Savage, an oceanographer. Story-time is interrupted by Dr. Tambura as he takes the team, Richard Carson, Genji Odashu, and Savage to review their last battle. They need to learn more about the machines they are piloting and how to best use their abilities. There is a pretty cool explanation of what Carson could have done better against the Rok-Korr elementals they faced in the last issue.
Back at Maur-Kon’s volcano lair his techno-mages have created the awesome Mech-Monster. A giant purple and yellow machine that looks a bit like a dragonfly with a bull’s head. The team gives Maur-Kon a demonstration of the weapons on the monster, canons on the side of its head and a laser blaster built into the tale. Maur-Kon is pleased and tells his mages that they’ll test the monster against the Shogun Warriors tomorrow. Meanwhile his lieutenant, Magar, who believes in magic over technology, has other plans for the fearsome machine. He takes control of it after everyone has left and brings it to the “Pool of Dark Life”, a lava pool that will be used to convert the machine into some unknown terror. He is interrupted by some guards and loses control of it, but his goal is achieved. The Mech Monster is transformed into a living, breathing, creature that still seems just as powerful as the original creation.
At Shogun Sanctuary the team has wrapped up their training and Genji decides she wants to take Combatra out for a test drive to see if she can put some of her newfound knowledge to practical use. Dr. Tambura gives her the thumbs up and she heads off into the night. While Genji is out she comes across the nearby city which is engulfed in flames. The living mech monster has attacked and now has its sights on Combatra. Genji calls back to HQ for assistance and prepares to defend herself and the city. She splits Combatra into the five individual ships that form the giant robot in an exciting cliffhanger that will lead right into the next issue.
As far as the story goes this is a really good example of a kids comic of the era. There was a Shogun Warrior toy line that the comic was meant to support and after reading this comic I don’t know how any kid wouldn’t be asking their parents for a new toy. The Shogun Warriors are prominently featured but there is a lot of character development and exposition to support an actual story.
It’s been a long time since I read one of these comics but I got everything I needed to know about the characters in this single issue, or at least enough to understand what is going on. The leader is the brainy scientist Dr. Tambura, the crew features a diverse team of young professionals, and the villain is the menacing Maur-Kon who uses science and magic to accomplish his goals. We learn about the abilities of the Shogun, that Radian is powerful and Combatra is actually a collection of vehicles that form the big warrior. That particular idea would be featured in much of the programming my brother and I enjoyed in the era from Voltron, to the Transformers, and the Gobots just to name a few.
This particular copy of Shogun Warriors #4 is an artifact from my childhood. It is a saddle stapled newsprint periodical that my brother and I managed to hold onto for forty one years. Despite the fact that most of the things that were part of our childhood are nothing more than memories now my brother and I never threw out our comics. They were more than advertisements for toys or disposable bits of entertainment to us. They were a shared experience. They were gateways to other worlds. They were what fueled our imaginations and they were important to us.
I’ll close this out this trip into the long boxes with a picture of the cover of the next issue that features Raiden battling the Mech Monster.