By Laramie Martinez
Lightrunner is fun in the same way Saturday morning cartoons are fun. Published in 1983, by Starblaze graphics and most recently by Dover Publications, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book for review. It turns out I had a classic example of the old school space opera. While it is definitely a product of it’s time, that doesn’t stop it from being a fun read. If you like Silver age art with a familiar yet entertaining sci-fi plot, this comic is worth checking out.
Burne Garrett, the son of the famed Commander Garrett, is framed for the theft of a new starship capable of traveling at light speed without the aid of the star stream. While trying to find the truth to the conspiracy he himself working with freedom fighters, rambunctious starship captains, and a furry alien telepath. Familiar, yet just weird enough to keep things interesting, this story has a freedom to it that you just don’t see in contemporary comics. It has a blockbuster movie feel to it, with non-stop action and a lot of scenes which cut back to villains plotting in a board room. As for the main characters, Burne is ok as a protagonist, and Tak, the alien telepath, is fun as far as furry sidekicks go (think Snarf, but not annoying, and with deep soulful eyes), but Lanie was by far the most entertaining. She’s got a Han Solo vibe cranked up to 11 and a devil may care attitude you can’t help but love.
As I said earlier, Lightrunner not the best example of character driving story. Burne basically goes from being a clean-cut reluctant fighter with daddy issues to a mustachioed brawler with a tough guy mentality. Yeah, that’s it. I can tell you that and it gives away no spoilers. So if you like your characters deep and complex, I’d pass on this one.
Art wise it’s all starships, action, and Silver age color schemes. The panel structure is done well and I enjoyed all of the weird character designs. It’s funny to look back and see how much the art takes from movie special effects. I feel like most contemporary artists draw aliens in a way which humanizes them. As opposed to this title where side characters pretty much fall into three categories: human, human with a weird trait, and beyond human comprehension. It feels like a cartoon, but in a good way, like an 80’s cartoon set in space.
My final word on Lightrunner is if you have any interest in sci-fi I think this one is worth checking out. It’s short, about 100 pages, but I guarantee you’ll find something you’ll like.
Writers: Lamar Waldron and Rod Whigham
Artist: Rod Whigham
Publisher: Dover Publications