Newsarama today have posted an article entitled “TRANSFORMERS & Beyond: 5 Best Marvel TOY Comics”, yet I have to take issue with their choices. To my mind, they have missed out one of the very best toy-linked titles of all time.
Although no one can deny the quality of the Micronauts, ‘They come from Inner Space’; or Rom, Spaceknight, the latter of which I have sung praises about previously, there was another toy character that seemed to get lost in the shuffle.
Back in 1983, The Saga Of Crystar, Crystal Warrior only lasted for eleven issues, and like most toys was based on quite a simple concept. Beings of crystal fighting beings of lava. Set in an alternate, fantasy style world of Crystallium, the comic followed the release of the toys the previous autumn, and so like many, I had assumed it was a licensed property, the trademarks resting with the toy company Remco.
So researching this morning for this post, I was surprised to learn that according to the ever-infallible Wikipedia, the entire concept was wholly created and owned by Marvel, who had the express intent to license this to a toy company.
Those eleven issues for a teenager like me (at the time) had great characterisation, and all the requisite dramatic themes. The forces of Chaos versus Order; the poisonous rivalry between brothers, in this case princes of the realm that tear the country apart, numerous love interests; and even more importantly for me at that age, guest appearances from Doctor Strange, Nightcrawler and Alpha Flight.
This was my first exposure to the art of Bret Blevins, which I have to note had a dramatically different style to his later work in New Mutants. Remember that cartoony style during the Bird Boy saga and the Fall of the Mutants era? This was nothing like that. Combined with phenomenal colouring for the time, this had an epic feel to it, sort of like a more shadowed and dirty George Perez, said shadow giving an impression comparable to a lot of the Lord Of The Rings art books that were floating around in that time.
I must say, if Crystar and his fellows remain in Marvel ownership, which they most obviously do, then why is it that we have never seen another appearance of this cast? With such iconic themes, they would easily provide a backdrop for a story of many of the more popular teams. After all, if Marvel can reference the Space Knights or Baron Karza and other members of the Micronauts cast even after those trademarks have long flown the coop, then why not Crystar?
The reason brother versus brother plots keep reappearing is because they last the test of time; we love this stuff. Marvel continually tries to honour its history; even retcons only reinterpret what has gone before rather than ignoring it.
So why not Crystar? Let’s see him again, and soon.