November 25, 2009

Mantech: Robot Warriors #4

1985 comic issue. Written by Rich Margopoulos. Illustrated by Dick Ayers and Chic Stone.

Related reviews:
- The first issue of the series.
- The previous issue of the series.

"Invaders from Earth"
"War of the Planets"
"Dregs of Defeat"

Long separated from their homeworld, the Mantech warriors are shocked to discover that humans, now using interplanetary gateways instead of starships, have made their way to the planet of Mekka. Though Solartech and Lasertech don't want to head back home until the threat of Tyranik has been resolved, Aquatech, long dissatisfied with his cybernetic form, is lured from the others by the promise of returning to a cloned body of flesh.

But, alas, things have changed on Earth. Pollution has made concentrated oxygen a rarity and the Orion Corporation, a ruling body these men represent, start setting up a factory to syphon Mekka's rich air supply back to our dying world. And Aquatech? His mechanized body will be dissected by the research department.

I was really blown away by this issue. The story is still cheesy, with all its blurted one-liners fully exclamated, and the art still childish, with figures hitting their wobbliest and eyes pointed in different directions, but it was a damn gripping read. The corporate plunder of a world, the shock that our heroes get at learning what their home has become, and the huge climactic battle with actual fatalities was something I didn't expect from a "Comics Code Approved" Archie title, and it got even better as the heroic Mantech had no other option but to team up with Tyranik and his hideous Terrotechs in order to face down a shared threat before the suffocation of their entire planet.

Sadly, this marks the last issue of the series. Clunky as it is, I was impressed by the thought and creativity Margopoulos slipped into his scripts, even as the art came back rushed and lacking conviction. There's promise of an issue 5 on the letters page, but it never came to be.

For more information about this issue, check out its page at The Comic Book Database. Though out of print, copies aren't very difficult to find at various online comic retailers.

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