Thursday, September 24, 2015


Counterpoint: Lukewarm sales.

Marvel's kid-friendly Star line seemed to be based on a trio of lucrative principles. The first was, naturally enough, license everything humanly possible. The next two were "swipe straight from Harvey's popular children's line as much as you can" and "puns."

Denied in the case of the first rule - Marvel had attempted to license the then-retired Harvey line of characters, but no deal could be reached - they embraced the second two, even though they could've left the last one well enough alone.

Planet Terry was Marvel's space opera by way of Richie Rich, more or less, featuring a desperate orphan boy exploring the universe in what should have been the vain hope of finding clues to his origin and the whereabouts of his parents. Far from being a difficult search, pretty much every other person Terry spoke with on his quest had some valuable info to pass along. This was going to be a short mystery, in other words.

Take that, haters.
Or it would have been, had Terry made it past twelve issues, and if the universe didn't seem content on jerking him around. Right out of the gate, Terry learns from an old-timey space prospector (a weird archetype in space dramas but what are you gonna do?) the details of his origin - born on an interstellar vessel, infant Terry is placed in the sterile environment of a lifeboat for his own safety. And is then launched into space. This is a powerful reminder to folks that spaceship lifeboats are for being shot into space first and used as incubators second.

It speaks poorly as to the design and efficacy of the lifeboat that the parent ship was unable to find it, much less space-based emergency services. Lacking some sort of emergency beacon, apparently the one thing you gain out of leaving a damaged spaceship via lifeboat is "a slower death,"

Well, Terry doesn't die, but he does lose his parents forever - unless he can find them, that is, which is the crux of the book. Along the way, he picks up Robota, a robot laborer otherwise condemned to the scrapheap and a character whose name must have been decided upon in something like ten seconds. She also has flowing locks of gorgeous red hair which is SUPER IMPORTANT in robot labor.

Also accompanying the duo is Omnus, a pile of netted laundry possessed of tremendous strength and the intolerable patter of a barbarian nitwit. Together, the three of them pursue the rumors of Terry's birth vessel, The Space Warp, across the universe, meeting bad guys and generally wasting a lot of time along the way.

Like other Star books Royal Roy and Top Dog, Planet Terry was illustrated by veteran Harvey artist Warren Kremer, giving it a visual connection to the world of Richie Rich and Hot Stuff. Perhaps that's where Terry should have looked next, perhaps Timmy Time could have given him some pointers.

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