Comics for kids range from silly fluff to intensely introspective stories. They don’t have to be sugar-coated adventures but can tell a meaningful story that, if done well, adults can enjoy too. When they work they can even transport you back to your own childhood. It’s a big reason why I tried out Planet Terry and I was pleasantly surprised by how strong it was at telling its story. Here’s three reasons why Star Comics: Planet Terry breaks the mold.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Reach for the stars with the eighties spacefaring sensation! With Robota and the mighty Omnus by his side, nothing can stop young Planet Terry as he journeys the galaxy in search of his long-lost parents — while fending off threats such as the Ruby Monster, the Tarantalugs and Vermin the Vile! Sam Space, intergalactic private eye, lends a hand against the evil Repugna and her mad menagerie of monsters — and the prison planet Alphatraz just might turn our hero into Planet Terry-ble! The secret of Space Station W-22 will change his life — but will he ever find his folks? Don’t be so sure you even want to, Terry! It’s action, fun and family drama in a cosmic comic saga like no other from Marvel’s classic 1980s all-ages imprint!
Can I jump in easily?
This is the complete collection containing all 12 issues of Lennie Herman, Stan Kay, and Dave Manak’s series all of which is drawn by Warren Kremer. This series was part of Marvel Comics’ Star Comics line of kids comics spearheaded by Tom DeFalco and Jim Shooter. As to why this line of comics was created DeFalco explains in one of the extras included in this book, “Children are really getting ripped off these days!” Why not make comics for a specific market, which made a lot of sense then in 1984 and still does today if young adult and middle-grade lines DC Ink and DC Zoom have anything to say about it. The back-matter is actually very good and helps give context to Star Comics and those involved with the line.
Reason 1: Well plotted and paced storytelling
After reading and reviewing the recently released Ewok complete collection I was expecting episodic stories that were repetitive and boring. I sure was happy to find each issue of this 12 issue story arc filled with good story progression and surprises. In fact, I was shocked to discover I reached the second issue when I could have sworn the amount of content in the first issue must have been multiple issues. As the story progresses Terry befriends aliens, discovers strange worlds, and gains new clues that lead him in a satisfying direction. One particular character who shouts, “Close enough” when he decrees from a special book (which I think is a commentary on religion) is an excellent idea and there’s a good reason the character pops up more than once. By the end, there are surprising twists as well as a solid message or two too.
Reason 2: A purposeful overarching narrative
The comic opens with Terry trying to find his parents after his escape shuttle jettisoned him away from a starship. He has little to go on, but with gumption and positivity, he finds clues that lead him to his parent’s ship, key figures involved, and eventually folks who very well could be his parents. This is a good comic for kids as it teaches them to never give up and do not despair. With most kids comics, a formula can arise that grows tiresome or at the very least it bides its time to fill out issues. That’s not the case here as the creators keep the story moving forward all the way to the end.
Reason 3: Creative artistic design
Part of me wonders if the writers and penciler Warren Kremer were hoping this would be picked up for cartoon syndication because Kremer fills this book with creativity. From the aliens, strange planets, and spaceships there’s so much to love in this book. There’s a lot of creative ideas at work that Kremer nails too, like a sequence where Terry must shoot enemies called Devourers from smashing into his ship like some kind of video game, or later a giant web that engulfs a planet. The attention to detail to ships is quite cool too lifting this up and making it stronger than a simplistic kid-focused collection.
Reasons to be wary?
This series can be a little cutesy and it certainly shows its age here and there. In regards to the latter Terry’s robot seems to be in love with him after being around him for five seconds. There’s even a moment he wakes up a princess with a kiss (but thankfully she rightfully yells at him that she didn’t give him permission).
Is there a rationale for the reasons?
I was actually expecting to hate this book but ended up loving every minute of it. Terry’s mission to find his parents is a driving force for every adventure he goes on and it twists and turns nicely. It’s also well drawn and filled with amazing characters and alien creations. Like great comic strips like Pogo, this comic series instills a sense of wonderment and adventure kids and adults alike will enjoy
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