Option38.com > Comics > 80s : You Is HERE
Shogun Warriors #19 (1980)"The Giant of Manhattan"
Writer: Doug Moench
Artists: Herb Trimpe
Shogun Warriors were about 10 years before their time. Long before the kids of the 80's gushed over TransFormers, Voltron and other cheap Japanese imports, Shogun Warriors came along in the sci-fi craze of the late 70's. But for whatever reason, they weren't too popular with the kids. For one, the toys were gigantic and really friggin' expensive. Something like 30-40 bucks for a big 24 inch high plastic robot. That's 40 bucks... in the 70's. Considering Star Wars toys were about 2 bucks a pop and Hot Wheels were less than a buck, nobody I knew had a Shogun Warrior. Plus, the toys weren't in scale with each other. They produced the big 24 inch Shoguns, plus smaller 8 inch versions, and even 3 inch versions. Then throw in a mish-mash of extra vehicles, gadgets and other crap that had no compatibility with any of the figures and it was a big mess.
Go, Go Shogun Warriors!!
So what's all this have to do with the comic book? Well, it was a big mess, too. Marvel did their best with it, though. It came hot on the heels of the successful "Micronauts" comic. Another toy tie-in seemed like a good idea, but as mentioned above, the toys weren't wildly popular and the inanimate Shogun Warriors -- Raydeen, Dangard Ace and Combatra-- weren't the stars of their comic. The focus of the comic was on the Shogun's pilots-- three multi-cultural characters who weren't connected with the toys at all. Ilongo Savage the Obligatory Black Guy, Genji Odashu the Obligatory Japanese Chick, along with Richard Carson, the all-American White Guy! At least "Micronauts" had translations of Space Glider, Galactic Warrior and Acroyear. The Shogun Warriors toys didn't have anything resemling Ilongo, Genji or Richard.
Multi-cultural roll call! (plus two robots)
Here's a shocker, but this issue was the second-to-last Shogun Warriors comic. In recent months, the pilots have been fighting off the alien Primal One and his various schemes to take over the Earth. The Primal One is kinda' weird... he's a disembodied field of energy that closely resembles a Jewish Star of David. He even has some alien flunkies to help him out. One with a giant green watermelon for a head and the other resembling a salamander without a mouth. No doubt, The Primal One vs. the Shogun Warriors was one of the great rivalries of the Marvel Universe... right up there with Thor vs. Mongoose, Nomad vs. Madcap or Wasp vs. the Magician.
Last month, The Primal One even sent a giant robot named Megatron to raise a ruckus (Transformers fans will surely freak out over that name). This month, he's called in a special spaceship, which converts into the mailicious Gigantauron! Being a mysterious, all-powerful omnipotent World Conqueror, The Primal One let it slip that the top 2 targets on his list are the Shogun Warriors and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.
So, to warn Reed, the pilots all pile in the "best-suited" Warrior, Combatra. Instead of, y'know, calling the FF, they decide to simply land the gigantic Combatra, unannounced, on top of the Baxter Building in New York City. Which means that it's time for the Obligatory Hero Team-Up Misunderstanding! The Thing and the Human Torch mix it up for a bit, until everyone figures out what's going on.
The Shoguns pay a visit
Right on cue, The Primal One sends Gigantauron to attack. The Warrior pilots convince Reed that the best way to fight Gigantauron is with Combatra. So, everyone piles into a detachable piece of Combatra. That was another thing that hurt the Shogun Warriors' appeal-- the "vehicles" each robot split into. They usually resembled....well, a big piece of a robot. Unlike Voltron's lions, these vehicles looked like a giant flying robot pelvis. "Quick! Everyone into the Pelvis Ship!"
Gigantauron a big ol' boxy world-devouring robot, comparable to an animatd Kirby vacuum with an attitude. But he's considerate, as he makes a special effort to land in the East River and not in the middle of Manhattan. Also, since this was the late 70's, Gigant has a special vulnerability spot inside him. Sort'a like...oh, I dunno'... the Death Star?! The Human Torch uses the Force to fly inside and blow-up Giangantonormous's power source. GIgant falls, conveinently, into the East River and Manhattan is saved. Amazingly, no water is displaced into the city... but is there really sense in arguing Logic in Comics about a story featuring a flying robotic pelvis?
Watch your step
The Primal One would return....in one month for another shot at the Shogun Warriors in their final issue! Thankfully, the Warriors prevailed and forever saved the Marvel Universe from the disembodied floating Star of David thingie. However, the Marvel U wasn't saved from the dreaded Toy Marketing Tie-In, as more would follow in the 80's. The Shogun Warrior toys themselves, were a harbinger of more cheap Japanese imports. I'm no authority on Giant Robots or the whole toy lineage, but if not for the Shoguns, we might've been saved from TransFormers, Go-Bots, Voltron, Power Rangers, Pokemon and Dragonball Z. In fact, the Shogun Warriors are eerily similar to the Power Rangers of the 90's (minus the Pink Ranger with the nice caboose, though). The blame must fall somewhere. Put it squarely on the plastic shoulders of the Mighty Spring-Loaded Shogun Warriors.
Summary: The FF and three people in jumpsuits fly around in the bodyparts of a giant robot.