Tuesday, October 06, 2009

With a name like "Morituri," it's got to be...well, a bit of a downer, yes.

Even though I may still have this particular comic, I bought another Strikeforce: Morituri #1 out of the quarter box a while back, along with a few other issues from that series. I've lost some since then, but I read the first year or so back in 1986, then fell off the book as both the distribution seemed to get sketchy (at newsstands, anyway) and the first wave of characters died off.

More after the break!

It's a pretty good high concept, and unsurprisingly, one that has pulled some interest for a TV version: Earth is under attack by the alien Horde, who are picking the planet apart to steal its resources, and because they're dicks. (Samples of their dickery: ejecting human captives from orbit, so they can be seen burning up on re-entry; decapitating children, and stealing archive copies of classic films like E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark) It's a losing battle until a scientist comes up with the Morituri Process; which overlays a second metabolism on the subject, giving them super-powers. Oh, and (mumble) it kills the subject inside of a year, tops.

While I haven't read the whole series, creators Peter B. Gillis and Brent Anderson play it very straight: there are no reprieves for the Morituri heroes. I don't think any of them got noble sacrifice deaths, either; most of them burn out at inopportune moments. Some die off-duty while waiting for battle, one dies right after her first fight, and I know one dies on his way to the big one.

The first issue is not only a good set-up for the rest of the series, but also reads pretty well as a done-in-one. I also loved that the framing device for the tale of the Black Watch (the first wave of Morituri soldiers) is a comic! To differentiate it from the 'real-world,' the art for the comic section was from Whilce Poratcio--spelled 'Wilce' here--who would later go on to Punisher and Wetworks, and must've been like twelve when this came out.

Strikeforce: Morituri could well be turned into a TV series, but the rights are apparently in dispute now, presumably so Gillis and Anderson can get their rightful cut. Which may also be just as well: while it could be the next Battlestar: Galactica if done right, it could also have been the next Night Man if they'd tried it in the 90's. It would be interesting to see how strict they play with the concept, and if a hit actor or actress would "miraculously" survive longer than their year...or if a problem or unpopular one would spontaneously combust sooner.

Also: I wonder how well this series did when it came out? It lasted a good three years or so, not bad for a non-licensed, unconventional super-hero property. The month Strikeforce: Morituri #1 came out also featured The 'Nam #1, the third month of the New Universe, two digest-size books (for Marvel's Star line and G.I. Joe) and Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz's Daredevil graphic novel and Elektra: Assassin #3! I have to wonder how all of those sold, in comparison to the books of today.

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