Star Slammers was originally the sixth Graphic Novel from Marvel Comics and released back in 1983. It was created (and I assume owned since he has done it at 2 other companies) by the great Walt Simonson. I’m just going to get this out of the way now, back in the Kamandi post I said Jack Kirby was the Odin of comics creators, well Walt Simonson sits at his right hand in the Asgard of comics creators.
So Star Slammers is set in futuristic society that is really the Roman Empire during its decline. The Slammers themselves are the best and most sought after fighters in the galaxy, picture are combination of Boba Fett, Jedi Knights and the Spartans from both 300 and Halo and you are getting close to what they are. When they are hired the deal is the Slammers get EVERY weapon and ship used by the force they were hired to fight. And nobody knows where the Slammers come from, you get a message off and if they take your job they show up out of nowhere and leave as quickly as possible. Oh yeah, and the WIN.
The book starts off with a siege on a planet that a band of slammers shows up to break that siege and they do, but they also ruffle the feathers of the people who hired them. This little spat causes the locals to tip off the Orions, the Roman guys I mentioned earlier, they have been looking for the Slammers for some time and the capture the team on its way home. Then you see a flashback, it turns out that the Orions have been exiling “undesirables” on a secret world for generations and using them as the “circus” to amuse the populous of the Orion Empire. They do this by taking members of the ruling class to hunt the Exiles and televise it. One powerful Senator stumbles across a family on one of these hunts but instead of being simple kills one of the Exiles pulls out a sling known as Power Slammer and takes out most of the hunters and their vehicle before being killed. In the process he cripples the Senator who returns to Orion and then gets authorization to destroy the planet.
When the Senator recounts the tale of what happened another member recognizes the weapon used by the Exiles as one his ancestor used before being exiled. The man who becomes known as Grandfather leaves Orion and travels to the Exiles world to warn them and train them to stop the Orions. Grandfather starts training the Slammers to create a psychic link between them all, to fight with a single mind with thousands of bodies. This will take years but as Grandfather points out it will also take the Orions years to assemble a fleet large enough to destroy a planet.
So as usual I’ve left out a ton including at least the last 1/3 of the book and glossed over a lot of the rest. This book is a classic sci-fi story, from the declining empire to the honorable warriors to the man to goes against his people to do what is right. The battles are wonderfully done and Simonson’s art perfect for the book. He evokes power of the weapons and on the flipside the age and sadness of Grandfather.
The only “bad” thing is it feels like it should be an epic saga that plays out over years and dozens of issues rather than 60 some pages in a graphic novel. Think of it like a two hour series premier for a sci-fi show. It introduces the heroes and villains, gives their back story, shows why the heroes are awesome and gives you a huge battle to wrap it all up.
Walt Simonson is one of my all-time favorite comics creators, besides Star Slammers he had a LEGENDARY run on Thor (where he created one of my favorite characters and wrote one of the best story arcs ever) and did runs on X-Force and Fantastic Four. He was the artist for the Marvel/DC crossover X-Men and Teen Titans which is (arguably) the best of the Marvel and DC crossover books and his art in it is stunning. Simonson is one of those people who I will buy any book I see with their name on it. I also regularly lament the fact I will probably never be able to afford a Simonson page.
So in summary if you want a Star Wars/300 story with great art go get Start Slammers, you can get it used on Amazon for like $6! And I feel like I did a horrible of explaining how cool this book is, but it really is. Honest.