Throwback Comic Review: “Sun Runners Christmas Special” (Jolly Jinglings Special)
Welcome back to Jolly Jinglings, The Splintering’s festive holiday extravaganza that celebrates all things Yule.
But you want to know what won’t be celebrating the season along with us? The Sun Runners Christmas Special by Amazing Comics. Not only did it mark the end of the Sun Runners series in 1987, but it had absolutely zero to do with Christmas or the Holiday Season in general. In fact, the book was actually intended to be a “Summer Special” before getting kicked down the road a few months. But you know what? We’re going to review it anyway, because we bought the book to review it for Jolly Jinglings, and by Saint Nick’s beard, we’re going to do just that.
Some spoilers will follow. It’s been decades, after all.
Sun Runners Christmas Special consists of two black and white, ten-page stories plus a few pieces of pinup at the back. The first story is titled Rocky Horror which featured a script by “Rotgut” Roger McKenzie, story and art by Kelley “Tequila” Jones and Jim “Sasparilla” Sinclair.
The plot serves as a background/origin story for Geo, who is a sentient geoform who left his planet of Dega-Prime because his life as a sentient, but stationary rock formation was far too boring for his liking. This led to his banishment from his home planet, but ultimately also to his joining the Sun Runners team.
While lost in thought as he recalls these experiences, Geo is exploring some aberrant activity on a deep space volcano. He winds up being attacked by a massive lava worm. A brief fight scene follows, and Geo manages to escape the fight, sparing the life of the worm in the process.
On the art side, there is some solid action, which is admittedly most of the story. The black and white is used well for separating foreground and background elements, and the lava creature looks particularly cool. If I were to gripe about anything art-wise, it would be the handful of wonky expressions on the last page. Otherwise, everything in Rocky Horror is serviceable.
The second story in the book is titled Voices, and it features a story by Roger McKenzie, pencils by Thomas Lyle (RIP) and inks by both Jim Sinclair and Jim Sanders III.
Voices follows the shapeshifting member of the Sun Runners team, Shifter, who is trapped in some kind of intergalactic prison (space jail?). Similar to Geo in the previous story, Shifter is recounting his own origin – how he came to be a feared bounty hunter thanks to his ability to shape-shift. He eventually became too successful and found that a price had been put on his head, ultimately leading to his capture and imprisonment. While spending five hundred years in space jail, Shifter is haunted and harassed by the voices of those whom he targeted. This leads him to an appointment with some kind of prison psychiatrist, who is assessing Shifter’s state-of-mind by listening to his flashbacks.
If that sounds like a “meh” plot, then I agree with you. Even for just ten pages, there’s not much here. Lyle’s art helps, but I wouldn’t say that it “comes to the rescue”, though. There’s not very much visual depth in the flashback sequences, but the scenes set in the prison have a better black and white balance, with some slight noir vibes provided by the shadows cast by the prison bars.
To round out the package, the book includes five pieces of pinup art as back matter: one of the cover art, one for each Sun Runner team members Delphi and Scooter, and two for the full team. They all have giant text that reads “Bonus Pin-Up” covering up part of the artwork, which was really unnecessary.
The Sun Runners series started at Pacific Comics, then went to Eclipse Comics, then to Sirius Comics, and finally landed at Amazing Comics. Hard to follow? Yeah. In the afterward, this is all laid out as part of the probable reasons why the Sun Runners series was unable to gain or maintain an audience. This was my first exposure to the series, and I wasn’t particularly taken with it. For fans of the characters in their heyday, this so-called “Christmas Special” might have finally fleshed out the origins and backstories of Geo and Shifter. Fair enough, but it still seems like a hard sell for 20 pages of black and white story with a $1.95 cover price (which is roughly $5.25 in current-year cash). But for readers new to the series, or certainly anyone looking for a festive, Christmas book to review for their website’s holiday-themed event, it’s a pass.
Thanks for reading!
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