Ok, just in case I haven’t made this perfectly clear to anyone who reads my columns at any time, I am a child of the 80s. I watched A.L.F. and Webster. I loved the A-Team, the Incredible Hulk, and the Dukes of Hazzard; and heck, what boy of the 80s wasn’t in love with Denise Huxtable and Kelly Bundy? Yeah, I’m a true 80s kid, and, as such, I remember the golden age of cartoons.
Oh, they were awesome and abundant. We had Superfriends, Spiderman and His Amazing Friends, Space Ghost, Thundercats, Tiger Sharks, Silver Hawks, He-man and the Masters of the Universe, M.A.S.K., G.I. Joe… Heck, the girls even had JEM, Strawberry Shortcake and Monchichis (I still remember the theme song from Monchichis- it was catchy). And the 80s introduced me to the giant robot.
I mean, I loved- and still love- giant robots. Gundam was cool, and Robotech was awesome. Voltes V was ok, Go Bots was cheesy- I still watched it though, and Mighty Orbots rocked (I wonder if I’m the only one who remembers that one?), but none of them- well, except Transformers- held a candle to the one and only defender of the universe, Voltron. Voltron was awesome, introduced by the voice of Optimus Prime, the story of the five robot lions that came together to form a massive fighting combiner was one of my all-time favorite cartoons. But, I eventually grew up, and outgrew Voltron… ok, I’m lying. A new Voltron cartoon started on Nicktoons last year, and I realized I’m just as big a Voltron geek now as then, the difference is that I’m aware of some of the lack of backstory. Thank goodness, someone else noticed it too.
Presented by Dynamite Entertainment, written by Brandon Thomas and penciled by Craig Cerma; Voltron: Year One is a little deceiving as the giant robot for which the book is named never actually appears. Still, it is a fun read. The story takes place sometime before the Space Explorers head off to planet Arus in search of the lions of Voltron, and while these are, definitely, the Space Explorer/Voltron Force crew we know and love, this is not a Voltron story.
When we join this story, Commander Sven (yes, I said Sven, not Keith) is having horrible dreams in which he and his crew of Space Explorers are dying a horrible death because of mistakes he makes while his team is on a rescue mission, under his leadership. And, apparently, this is a recurring nightmare for him, as we see, not only the nightmare more than once, but a few instances where the nightmare almost comes to fruition. When he awakens, he is focused, because not only is his team, S.E. 686, the best, but they are also undefeated. Because of this, they are sent on many missions with a low chance for success, and still they manage, time and again, to achieve their objective. Being the best, the team expects to be sent on missions of the utmost importance, so they are perturbed when they receive orders to rescue a wealthy businessman from some would-be terrorists.
Still they go and the mission is a disaster for them as, suddenly, their weaponry malfunctions and the hostage is killed. When the team returns to the Alliance, they learn that the businessman was actually the weapons supplier for the whole Alliance, and his abduction is a disaster. Team S.E. 686 had never, before, failed at a mission upon which it was sent, and this becomes a catalyst through which most of the rest of the story takes place, because there is a traitor in the Galaxy Alliance, and the traitor fears S.E. 686.
I must admit that, when I found that there was no Voltron at all in this story, I was rather disturbed. After all, the robot is on every cover, but the story is, very specifically, the story of how the team became the Voltron force. It is a heck of a read and a heck of a ride. Watching as Keith becomes the commander; seeing the young, hotshot Lance when he was even more impulsive than we know him to be. And the complexity this story adds to Sven’;s character is amazing. If you were/ are a fan of Sven, then this is a definite must read. Of course, as I’ve stated a few times before, and let me be perfectly clear, Mr. President, Voltron does not appear in this, six issue, limited series. While that was a disappointment, once the story got rolling, the backstory of the Voltron Force became one of my must-read titles.
I highly recommend reading Voltron: Year One if you’re a fan of Voltron, if you’re a fan of outer space intrigue, or if you’re just a fan of a good story, and you have been warned- no Voltron- so there will be no surprises… actually, there’ll be a lot of surprises. Enjoy them. Read Voltron Year One and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did- now if I could only get the full story of Voltron’s construction… ah well…