Greetings from the Odinson,
Popular properties are a big part of the comics market. Properties like Star Wars (Dark Horse), He-Man (DC), GI Joe and Transformers (IDW) have not only grown to become staples but over the years they’ve grown so big that it’s hard to imagine pop culture without them in it. From The Ghostbusters to Doctor Who, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, these franchises have carved out a notch for themselves in the industry and have proven time and time again that they have a loyal fan base.
Even with all these franchises still going strong there is still plenty of gold to be mined. There is so much untapped goodness out there. The 1980s alone is rife with pop culture gold, so many awesome properties just sitting out there in the ether not being used. In the right creative hands some of these properties could become mega hits.
Inhumanoids – When underground exploration awakens an ancient nest of Lovecraftian horrors and unleashes it upon the world, mankind is faced with a danger of apocalyptic proportions. The only thing standing in the way of these monsters is Earth Corps, scientists equipped with advanced battle armor, and their allies, a mysterious race of elementals that have a connection to the Inhumanoids. It’s Iron Man meets Pacific Rim.
ThunderCats – A small band of refugees escape their doomed world and crash land on a lush paradise planet full of vibrant vegetation and life, but this world is also home to unspeakable evil. Now this small band of heroes, each with their own unique skills and abilities, must fight for survival against pirates, assassins, mutants, and, worst of all, a deadly ogre-mage whose immortal dark power is rivaled only by the mystical power of the Sword of Omens. It’s the X-Men meets Dungeons & Dragons.
The Herculoids – On the far side of the galaxy, a courageous family that has sworn off advanced technology fights alongside prehistoric monsters to protect their cosmic resource rich planet against the invading space pirates and tyrants that seek to plunder it for their own devilish schemes. It’s Swiss Family Robinson meets Godzilla.
Centurions – Power X-Treme! In the not too distant future, mankind is threatened by the terrorist Doc Terror, a mad scientist that transformed himself into a deadly cyborg. The only ones standing in his way of global domination are the Centurions, brave men who have fused their bodies with super science that gives a single man the firepower of an entire regiment. It’s The Terminator meets GI Joe.
Just to name a few.
But for the Odinson, the Holy Grail of ‘80s properties that is in dire need of a modern day renaissance is Thundarr the Barbarian.
This animated gem was created by Steve Gerber (Howard the Duck) and featured character designs by Alex Toth (Super Friends, Space Ghost) and Jack Kirby (Fantastic Four, New Gods). Set in a post-Apocalyptic world of feudal territories ruled by malevolent wizards, Thundarr is the tale of a brave hero armed with his fabulous Sunsword who rides across the land alongside his companions Princess Ariel and Ookla the Mok and battles the forces of evil. This cartoon had some of the most memorable villains in action/adventure history. From the two-faced wizard Gemini to an alien vampire from beyond the stars to the Brotherhood of Night, a pack of deadly werewolves, Thundarr and his allies faced dangers undreamed of.
As Thundarr and his allies ride across the post-Apocalyptic landscape, a keen-eyed viewer can spot certain geographical features of a bygone era. A ruined Hollywood sign, a destroyed Statue of Liberty, a weathered Alamo, or fallen down skyline of the Las Vegas strip lets the viewer know what locale that week’s adventure is taking place in. Thundarr the Barbarian has all the potential in the world of being something really cool, something special. It’s Conan meets Jericho.
Since it’s been out of the popular consciousness for so long, the tale should start at the beginning and unfold by introducing the readers to this fantastic world and its denizens. Whatever company decides to pick this property up needs to have the creative team watch the intro to the cartoon and draw inspiration from it.
The voiceover goes as follows:
The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man’s civilization is cast in ruin! Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn… A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery, super science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!
It would only take minor tweaks to bring the tale up to the 21st Century, and the premise has already been laid out. I figure start at the beginning. The first four-issue story arc can set up this post-Apocalyptic world and show how Thundarr and his companions meet and introduce the catalyst that is the driving force that sets them out on their quest for justice.
Here’s the Odinson’s take:
Issue one would begin with a two to three-page introduction that closely mirrors the intro of the cartoon. Instead of using the cataclysm date of 1994 (a date which has obviously come and gone) I would use the foreboding and timeless description of – In the not too distant future… Then, as in the original cartoon intro, go on to describe the destruction of civilization (again, the artist should draw inspiration from the original cartoon intro) and end the introduction with – 2,000 years later, Earth is reborn…
The next page would be the splash-page and read: “Chapter One: A World of Savagery…!” NOTE: The title of each of the first four issues would be callbacks to the original cartoon introduction. Issue two would be “Chapter Two: Super Science!” Issue three – “Chapter Three: Sorcery!” Issue four – “Chapter Four: He is Thundarr the Barbarian!” Not only would each issue’s title be a callback, but it would also set up the theme for that particular chapter. “Savagery” would be the running theme throughout issue one, “Sorcery” would be the theme for issue three.
We would begin our story as a peaceful barbarian tribe is suddenly and viciously attacked by a horde of mutants and monsters under the command of the evil wizard Sabian. The men of the barbarian tribe are brutally slaughtered as the women and children are forced into slavery. A particularly rebellious young blond boy catches the eye of the wizard. This boy’s name is Thundarr.
As the issue unfolds, we see Thundarr grow up in slavery, forced to work in the mines and quarries under the rule of the evil wizard. Thundarr routinely has the lash taken to him for his rebelliousness. He is forced to fight for survival in a gladiator arena for the amusement of the wizard, his guests (a good spot to have cameos by other evil wizards like Gemini, Kublai, and Morag), and his monstrous subjects. However, this cruel life only serves to strengthen not only Thundarr’s resolve, but his body as well.
Then one day Thundarr is brought before the wizard in chains. Having reached manhood and now at the peak of his strength, Thundarr, to the horror of his slavers, bursts his bonds and leads a rebellion against the wizard. He is joined by Ookla the Mok, a monstrous catlike humanoid whose people are also enslaved by the wizard, and Princess Ariel, a beautiful sorceress who was taken in as Sabian’s adoptive daughter after the evil wizard murdered her parents.
The first issue ends with the slaves free of Sabian’s rule and the demise of the evil wizard. Thundarr, with Ookla and Ariel at his side, embarks on a mission to free all the lands from the evil wizards that rule them with an iron fist. The next three issues can include how Thundarr obtains his greatest weapon – his fabulous Sunsword – and also set in motion a greater over-arcing plot for the series, a quest for a powerful artifact that can free the world from the power of evil wizards forever. A subplot would be the discovery of the origins of what caused the planetary cataclysm 2,000 years ago that led to this world of savagery, super science, and sorcery, and our heroes and the readers will learn that maybe it wasn’t such a cosmic “accident” after all.
Thundarr the Barbarian is so a comic I would want to read.
BraveStarr, Crystar, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Underdog, Bionic Six, The Spiral Zone, The Mighty Or-Bots, MASK, Visionaries – there are so many other properties just sitting out there, waiting for somebody to come along and mine gold from them once again. Hey, if My Little Pony has proven anything, it’s that properties from the ‘80s still have a core fan base and some of those properties can find a voice in this modern market and attract a new generation of fans.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell